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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
In World War 3.0: Microsoft and Its Enemies, Ken Auletta tells the story of history's most expensive antitrust case, the two-year-long courtroom battle between Microsoft and the Department of Justice that was estimated to have cost Microsoft alone over $100 million in legal fees. In a captivating book, parts of which were originally published as essays in The New Yorker, Auletta relates how Justice Department lawyer Joel Klein originally decided to challenge Microsoft for alleged anticompetitive practices directed against Netscape, how super-lawyer David Boies turned the government's originally weak case into a sure win, how the two sides came within inches of settling, and how Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson finally came to his now infamous decision to break up the corporate Goliath.
But this well-crafted and highly readable narrative is more than just a reporter's digest of the facts of the Microsoft trial. Auletta also paints vivid portraits of many of the trial's key figures, among them Boies, Judge Jackson, and Bill Gates himself. Although he readily admits that Bill Gates possesses a rare form of genius, Auletta portrays the 45-year-old tycoon as essentially an overgrown adolescent. He is fiercely competitive and quick to lose his temper, as when he broke down in frustration and shouted, "The government is wrong! They're just wrong!" He uses teenage jargon such as "hard core," a now infamous Microsoft term meaning tough and combative. And his two literary heroes are Holden Caulfield and Jay Gatsby, archetypal figures of adolescent stubbornness and romanticism. Although these characteristics may have helped propel Gates's entrepreneurial career, encouraging him to take risks that others would deem impossible, they also made him appear arrogant and untrustworthy in the eyes of Judge Jackson.
Like Gates, government lawyer David Boies is a risk taker, but unlike him, the slightly disheveled-looking trial lawyer is completely an adult. Boies, who gained even greater visibility for his Supreme Court defense of Al Gore last December, thrives on playing the game. Inside and outside of the courtroom, he is a high-stakes gambler. In an interview with Auletta, he admitted that "had Microsoft asked first, I might have represented Microsoft. I certainly don't think Microsoft was an evil empire. Nor do I think so now." Nonetheless, he went after Microsoft without mercy, pulling no punches in an all-out attempt to beat the opposition.
Boies's case presumably convinced Judge Jackson, though many trial watchers, particularly those inside Microsoft, believe that the judge was prejudiced against the corporation from the onset. Although Jackson often appears dim-witted and, according to Auletta, actually fell asleep in court on one occasion, Boies has said of him that he is much like Presidents Truman and Reagan. All three men "had been underestimated, had their intellects questioned, yet surprised critics with their tenacious convictions and vigorous common sense." Reading the book, it is hard not to agree with Boies's assessment. In fact, anyone who reads this book will walk away with not only a detailed knowledge of the ins and outs of the case against Microsoft but also an increased understanding of the chief players' methods and motives.