It’s difficult not to be alive and aware anywhere in the world today without recognizing the impact of Silicon Valley on the way we live our lives. Half a century ago the Santa Clara Valley that is the heart of what we know today as Silicon Valley was purely agricultural. Orchards of apricots, cherries, prunes, almonds, and walnuts dominated the region. Today it’s best known as the place where many of the world’s most powerful high-tech companies are headquartered. Google, Apple, and Facebook are there. So are Hewlett Packard, Intel, Tesla, eBay, Cisco Systems, Oracle, Adobe, and scores of others.
Naturally, a center of power such as Silicon Valley has been the subject of countless books. Amazon lists more than 50,000. So, any effort to make a comprehensive study of the region by reading books would be futile. Instead, over the past decade, I’ve attempted to select those that showed promise of casting the brightest light on the Valley. And below I’m listing those I’ve read and rated @@@@ or @@@@@ (4 or 5 out of 5) in my reviews, beginning with the top 5.
Best books about Silicon Valley: the top 5
Troublemakers: Silicon Valley’s Coming of Age by Leslie Berlin—The people who put Silicon Valley on the map
Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou—A cautionary tale about corporate power in Silicon Valley
AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order by Kai-Fu Lee—The best book about artificial intelligence I’ve read so far
Becoming Steve Jobs: The Evolution of a Reckless Upstart Into a Visionary Leader by Brent Schlender and Rick Tetzeli—The new Steve Jobs biography is terrific!
The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity by Amy Webb—An artificial intelligence skeptic paints a chilling picture of a future dominated by AI
Next best books about Silicon Valley
Googled: The End of the World As We Know It by Ken Auletta—Ken Auletta takes us behind the scenes at an extraordinary company
Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley by Antonio Garcia Martinez—Confessions of a Silicon Valley techie
Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson—The Walter Isaacson biography of Steve Jobs
Surveillance Valley: The Secret Military History of the Internet by Yasha Levine—Shocking revelations: the secret military history of the Internet
The One Device: The Secret History of the iPhone by Brian Merchant—The iPhone: the world’s most profitable product?
The Upstarts: How Uber, Airbnb, and the Killer Companies of the New Silicon Valley Are Changing the World by Brad Stone—Uber, Airbnb, and the sharing economy
Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson—Women programmers, blue-collar coders, and the world they’re building
The Driver in the Driverless Car: How Our Technology Choices Will Create the Future by Vivek Wadwa and Alex Salkever—An authoritative look at technology’s potential
Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener—An insightful Silicon Valley memoir
The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age by Tim Wu—It’s time for antitrust: break up big corporations to restore democracy
For further reading
If you look on reading the best books about Silicon Valley as a starting point for a broader inquiry, you might also be interested in:
- Two dozen good books about artificial intelligence reviewed here;
- My 10 favorite books about business history (plus dozens of others); and
- 20 good nonfiction books about the future (plus lots of science fiction).
And you can always find my most popular reviews, and the most recent ones, plus a guide to this whole site, on the Home Page.