Media praise for Spam Kings, hardcover edition

"A fascinating insider look at an odd assortment of individuals who unscrupulously market phoney schemes, bogus investments, fake medications, and counterfeit goods to millions of unsuspecting computer users via unsolicited e-mail, or spam. These are their stories, and those of anti-spammers who are actively hunting them down and turning them over to the authorities."
-- Michael Kleper, The Kleper Report on Digital Publishing

"This is about the personal lives, and the trials and tribulations of spammers and spam fighters. A more motley crew of miscreants and their enemies would be hard to imagine... What is really amazing is just how readable this book is. McWilliams has the narrative talent of a novelist, and the investigative skills of a top drawer journalist. I found this bizarre story of greed and human depravity in cyberspace as 'unputdownable' as a best-selling true crime tale--which it is. This also serves as a sort of history of outline spam, chronicling the lives and times of those involved while reporting on the various measures taken by email providers and governments to combat the flood of unsolicited bulk emails."
--Dennis Littrell, review, June 2005

"It is an axiom in security to know your enemy. Before taking on spammers, Spam Kings is a good place to turn for a look at some of the people responsible for the spam epidemic. The book provides the details, often comical, of the seemingly never-ending cat-and-mouse games played by spammers and members of the antispam cabal dedicated to stopping them. It's a good preview on what a company is getting into when it decides to take on spam."
--Ben Rothke,, April 2005

"McWilliams is an experienced author, and his breadth of understanding helps keep the prose informed and clear while skillfully managing to avoid becoming too technical, no mean feat given that the channels through which spammers and anti-spammers work are often obscure and enjoyable read, and warmly recommended to anyone looking for something fun but relevant to take with them on their next vacation."
--Dr. Neale Monks,, March 2005

"This title deserves its hard cover; it is an important historical record...that covers spamming and anti-spamming activities over a period of six years. The author is an investigative journalist and his account is written in a style that reads like a novel; and a very good read it is...It is a fascinating account of spammer exploits and how a small group of individual doggedly pursued the spammers...A great read, every bit as exciting as any who-dunnit or spy story..."
--Major Keary, Book Notes, 2004:19

"Spam Kings is nonfiction but reads like a lively novel, which means it should appeal not only to IT professionals looking to better understand their enemy but anyone who has a passing interest in the spam world's inner workings."
--Paul McNamara, Network World, December 2004

"McWilliams has written a true crime thriller with just enough geek-pleasing details on how spam outfits work, interspersed into a rich and fascinating tale that documents the lives, loves and motivations of several spammers, as well as the antispam activists who are bound and determined to get these dorks offline and into jail. If you've ever wondered who is behind those bizarre e-mails that promise you improved body parts, your own harem of nubile and alarmingly eager ladies, and plenty of money for nothing, read Spam Kings. You'll be horrified -- when you're not laughing like a lunatic."
--Michelle Delio, Wired News, December 2004

"Brian McWilliams has done some excellent sleuthing!"
--Robert Pritchett, MacCompanion, January 2005 (3:1)

"McWilliams does a great job of explaining not only technical terms in easy-to-understand language, but he also delves into the personas of both spammers and anti-spammers and the surprising companies that profit from the virtual rubbish that has become far too common."
--Steve Segal, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, December 2004

"Spam Kings is nonfiction but reads like a lively novel, which means it should appeal not only to IT professionals looking to better understand their enemy but anyone who has a passing interest in the spam world's inner workings."
--Paul McNamara, Network World Fusion, December 2004

"With monikers like Shiksaa, Dr. Fatburn, Mad Pierre and Terri Tickle, the subjects of McWilliams's debut often sound cut straight from pulp or comic-book noir farce--despite being real. A brisk narrative sets immediately on the trail of one of them: Davis Hawke, a chess-geek neo-Nazi turned spam lord. We also meet Shiksaa, a frustrated AOL user turned antispam vigilante who, along with a posse of like-minded netizens, fights running battles with spammers like Hawke, the man behind countless herbal Viagra offers and get-rich-quick schemes. McWilliams, an experienced business and technology reporter, manages, at his best, to make stories of people glued to their computers read like a thriller. His true (if virtual) crime tale's quick pacing and use of online exchanges provide relief from details of how , technically, spam kings operate (not always gripping moments: 'Hawke purchased and downloaded a copy of Extractor Pro from the company's Web site'). This helps McWilliams pull a lively tale from the messy web of computer-geek criminality and righteous antispammer reprisal--and one from which spam-beleaguered computer users may take heart. Forecast: McWilliams--who garnered some press after a 2002 piece on the contents of Saddam Hussein's inbox--writes authoritatively and will be touring, giving this book the makings of a sleeper."
--Publishers Weekly, October 2004

"McWilliams, an investigative reporter famous for hacking into Saddam Hussein's email, follows several spammers and antispammers from 1999 to 2004...As their stories unfold, the reader gains some understanding of the grass-roots efforts to fight spam and the people and technology behind it...['Spam Kings' provides] a history of spam and raises some interesting moral and ethical questions while offering insight into the communities of spammers and antispammers by discussing their jargon and practices."
--Colleen Cuddy, Library Journal, November 2004

"This engaging book is a kind of 'history' of spam wars, involving several people, the most notable of the spammers themselves, and the people who chose to fight them...No, this isn't a book about how to get rid of spam or guard yourself against it, but it does provide a fascinating story of greed, stupidity (on the part of those who do indeed buy product from spammers), and how some dedicated individuals are trying to put an end to it."
--Todd Hawley,, November 2004

"Brian McWilliams' 'Spam Kings: The Real Story Behind the High-Rolling Hucksters Pushing Porn, Pills, and %*@)# Enlargements' is a surprisingly good tale. I was expecting more of a survey of the field, but it's instead a well-told narrative with bizarre characters and unexpected developments. In fact, it's a page turner."
--David Weinberger,, November 2004

"Every once in a while, we run across an item online that pries the lid off the shadowy world of spammers and how they operate...In tracking the exploits of spammers and those who fight them, McWilliams exposes the dirty details behind the spam business and gives us an insight into just what kind of people are involved on both sides of the conflict. This is not just a litany of the technical tricks spammers use - although there are good explanations of those for the non-technical reader - but is more a book-length cultural account of the spam industry, written in the style of a crime thriller. It's a fine overview of spam culture, and the best book on the subject so far."
--Netsurfer Digest, November 2004

"The thing about Spam Kings is this: it is fascinating to read about the bizarre characters behind so many of the bogus messages that appear in my email inbox, and it's also intriguing to learn about the odd duality between spammers and those who fight it. But it is also rather depressing to realize that yet again, 'We have met the enemy, and it is us.' McWilliams' Spam Kings is a good, entertaining book that ultimately may only confirm one basic principle, articulated by Davis Hawke like this: some people are stupid."
--Bill Wallo,, November 2004

"Brian has been one of my favorite freelance writers, ever since he hacked his way into Saddam's in-box two years ago...[Spam Kings] is breezy, naughty fun, with deeply-flawed good guys and painfully-human villians. Think Dominick Dunne, edited by the geeks at Slashdot. Good stuff."
--Noah Shachtman,, December 2004

Advance praise for Spam Kings

"Spam is probably the worst problem facing computer users today--worse than viruses, trojans, and even identity theft--because it threatens our very ability to communicate with each other. Spam Kings deftly exposes these creeps, humanizes them, and helps us to understand how and why they do what they do. It isn't a pretty picture but is one we all should look at and understand. Read this book."
--Robert X. Cringely, creator of the PBS documentary, "Triumph of the Nerds."

"This book grabbed me from the very first page. It's a classic, in the spirit of Soul of a New Machine and The Cuckoo's Egg. Highly Recommended! I've always hated spam. Now I like spammers even less."
--Seth Godin, Author Permission Marketing

"The inside story of who's behind all that junk filling up your inbox is both good reporting and a good read. All the scum-sucking bottom-dwellers of the spam underworld are represented, as well as many of the unsung heroes in the war against unwanted email. Spam Kings should be required reading for anyone who hates spam-which includes just about everybody except spammers."
--Daniel Tynan, contributing editor, PC World

"Spam Kings is less a 'how to' than a 'who do'--an irresistible look into the wheelings and dealings of spammers, those digital evildoers who cram our in-boxes with junk, and the anti-spammers, whose mission is to drive them off the Internet. McWilliams has an eye for detail and a keen ability to make even the most complex technical concept easy to grasp. The result is a very entertaining read."
--Adam L. Penenberg, author of Tragic Indifference: One Man's Battle with the Auto Industry over the Dangers of SUVs

"McWilliams's book shows the evolution of spammers from disinfranchaised Neo-Nazis and hucksters of herbal remedies to a formidible force for evil. But rather than quote statistics and look at low-level technical tactics, McWilliams digs deep into these people's motiviations, psychology and finances. At times I felt as if I were reading intelligence reports from FBI field offices. Spam won't be the death of us all, but it could be the death of email and the Internet. McWilliams's book is a powerful salvo in the war against the spammers."
--Simson Garfinkel, coauthor of Stopping Spam and author of Database Nation

"In my anti-spam work I've known the names of a lot of spammers, but I never knew much more about them. Somehow, Brian McWilliams got some of the world's most prolific spammers to open up so he can tell tales, alternately hilarious and horrifying, of neo-Nazi chess prodigies supporting themselves with fake virility drugs, a guy desperately looking for spare parts for his time machine, and the years of online skirmishes between spammers and a loose-knit band of people dedicated to rooting them
--John Levine, author, The Internet for Dummies; board member, Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email.

"Like a deep-sea photographer, McWilliams brings us a shocking series of portraits of the bizzare creatures feeding and fighting at the bottom of the Internet. Anyone who has wondered what kind of person would send spam can find the answer here. The truth is stranger than fiction, and more disturbing, as their tentacles reach us daily."
--Jason Catlett, founder and president of Justbusters Corporation

"Congratulations to Brian McWilliams for this compelling unmasking of the shadowy world that reaches out from every email in-box. The real-life villains and heroes of Spam Kings make it a high-tech page-turner."
--Dave Stampley, Senior Corporate Counsel and Director of Privacy, the Reynolds and Reynolds Company; former Assistant Attorney General, New York State

"Spam is the best example of the unintended consequences of the Internet--the very success of email as an easy and flexible communications tool has opened the door to massive abuse. McWilliams does a wonderful job of putting a human face on the problem, illuminating the motivations and actions of spammers and anti-spammers alike, and documenting spam's 10-year march from minor annoyance to serious global issue. There are no easy answers to the spam problem, but Spam Kings clearly describes the efforts of spam fighters, from vigilantes to Government bodies, to save email from drowning in the effluvia of worthless potions and get rich quick schemes."
--Clay Shirkey, Professor, Interactive Telecommunications Program, NYU

"A fascinating insider look at an odd assortment of individuals who unscrupulously market phoney schemes, bogus investments, fake medications, and counterfeit goods to millions of unsuspecting computer users via unsolicited e-mail, or spam."
--Michael Kleper, The Kleper Report on Digital Publishing