I read a prerelease (near final) copy of the book and also worked for Xerox in El Segundo on the same project where much of this story takes place although although I worked there after the events in this book. Much of the story matches the stories I heard from colleagues and what I experienced myself working for the company and how this division was very different from the rest of Xerox. Although this is a functional story it is based in factual history and I recognize many of the characters (or character hybrids) in this tale.

The book is well written and mostly an easy read. One or two small parts delve into some software details that a non-software engineer might gaze over but it is very brief and not critical to understand but more just is there to show some of the unique aspects of what was being done.

I agree with the sentiment I’ve read in the other early reviews and the reference to Soul of a New Machine (however it does not match the tension I remember when reading Kidders book) and rather than repeat the other reviews I’ll add one thing that was not mentioned.

For me I think the author captures well how working for a non-aerospace company felt during those years. Not only did I work for Xerox, I spent the summers that overlap the time frame in this book working for a nearby defense contractor. It was two very different worlds and while the defense world was stuck in their mainframes they could not comprehend what Xerox was doing (which enlightened folks did know about.) What this book does that I have not read elsewhere is capture that tension well.