By: Stephanie Sammartino McPherson
Publisher: Twenty-First Century Books
Publication Date: August 2010
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: October 2010
Carl Page had high expectations of his son Larry, a talented young man with a lot of promise who dreamed of what he could one day accomplish in the field of technology. The Page family, who lived in Lansing where Larry was born, insisted he attend the University of Michigan. His father said, “We’ll pay for any school you want to go to as long as it’s in Michigan.” It was a school where he excelled and he was even able to help develop a solar-powered car with a team of classmates. Larry wanted to continue his education and receive a doctorate as his father had done. His school of choice was Stanford University near Silicon Valley, a school where he could continue his work in computers.
Before Larry made his decision to attend, he decided to tour the school. The tour guide seemed to have nothing better to do than argue with him and, in Larry’s own words, was “pretty obnoxious.” It was an auspicious meeting for the two young men as that obnoxious guy turned out to be Sergey Brin. Sergey was also a very talented young man who emigrated from the Soviet Union with his family when he was five-years-old. He was a gifted student and a mere four years after arriving in the states he had a Commodore 64 and “erected his own computer game, complete with virtual warriors.”
Sergey had been at Stanford two years before Larry arrived on the scene. Even though they “argued vigorously” and “considered each other ‘obnoxious’” it was clearly a match made in heaven, but one that was not clearly evident at the time. The two opinionated young men soon found themselves working together. Larry had an unusual dream and thought, “What if we could download the whole Web?” To most people that would be an insane proposition, but to Sergie it seemed realistic and they “decided to collaborate.”
In 1996 there were ten million documents on the Web, but Larry, who had a "healthy disregard for the impossible," was up to the task. A crawler was sent out and the quest for the impossible began. In this book you will learn about Larry and Sergey’s personal lives, the methods they used to create Google, the algorithm they used to prioritize page ranking, how they selected a name, how they got money for their project, how they crashed Stanford’s computer network, how they received financing, and you’ll discover many more interesting aspects you never knew about Google and its founders.
This look at the founders of Google, the men who want to “organize all the information in the world” will fascinate its young readership. This is a success story that shows just what unbridled talent and genius can accomplish. The biography of Brin and Page clearly will show young readers what can be done when they follow their dreams. I enjoyed not only reading about Brin and Page, but also about people like Dr. Terry Winograd who encouraged their dream and never said the word “can’t.” There are numerous informative sidebars, including reproduced USA Today articles, that supplement the biography very nicely. For example, the reader can learn about such things as server farms, where the World Wide Web came from, and clients and servers. In the back of the book is an index, a glossary, source notes, a selected bibliography, and additional book and website resources to explore.
Quill says: If you are interested in learning about two young men whose talent and genius enabled them to “invent a new way to search the information on the World Wide Web,” this amazing biography will keep you reading far into the night!