Book reviews: Masters of Doom and The Phoenix Project

I finally got back into my reading habit. My first two book choices for August made me quite happy. Here’s what I though about …

Masters of Doom

The book describes the “Two Johns'” respective childhoods, their first meeting at Softdisk in 1989 and the eventual founding of their own company, id Software. It discusses in detail the company’s first successes, the popular and groundbreaking Commander Keen and Wolfenstein 3D games, as well as the new heights the company reached with Doom, which granted the company unprecedented success, fame and notoriety. It also discusses id’s next project, Quake, as well as the aftermath of Romero’s departure from the company and his founding – and the eventual collapse – of Ion Storm, his new game development studio. Kushner also describes the new gamer culture created by Doom and its impact on society. – Wikipedia

There is a lot to ingest here, especially about the nature of personal careers and breakthrough products. Incredibly, much is due to chance. What made the difference was the ability and willingness of the various actors to seize opportunities as they presented themselves. The latter parts of the book are equally fascinating, casting some light on how the group around id ultimately couldn’t repeat their incredible achievements indefinitely and wasn’t able to realize that for a prolonged time.

Verdict: highly recommended for anyone with an interest in digital gaming and digital products in general.

The Phoenix Project

In a fast-paced and entertaining style, three luminaries of the DevOps movement deliver a story that anyone who works in IT will recognize. Readers will not only learn how to improve their own IT organizations, they’ll never view IT the same way again. – Amazon

Anyone would have a hard time finding a more condensed yet easily digestible introduction into DevOps or, more contemporary, Lean Development. The work of Kim, Behr and Spafford in extracting the most essential wisdom becomes apparent throughout and makes this equally enjoyable and educational.

Verdict: an absolute must for aspiring as well as seasoned IT managers.