I just finished reading Little Brother by Cory Doctorow. It is a Young Adult novel, but I really enjoyed it, and would recommend it for anyone interested in computers, cryptography, freedom, or security.
A quick summary of the setup: Malcolm and his friends are ditching school to hunt down clues in an internet scavenger hunt. Disaster strikes the city of San Francisco and they are picked up by the Department of Homeland Security on suspicion of being involved. The DHS tramples all over the kids’ liberties, and after they are released starts doing the same to the city. The people of the city are too shaken by the tragedy to object, so Malcolm and some of his friends begin to fight back through encryption and other tech means.
Little Brother paints a grim but believable picture of a “day after tomorrow” America where fear has been allowed to trump freedom and sense. It’s a well written piece of work, and stands as a cautionary tale about the direction that some people would have my country go in order fight its “war on terror.” If George Orwell had written a book about the events that lead to the eventual domination of England by IngSoc, I imagine it might have started something like this.
Give this book a read. If you don’t want to pay for it, you can download it, freely and legally, from Mr. Doctorow’s website, linked above. If you like it, there is a list of teachers who want copies for their classrooms where you can donate. I plan to buy a hardcopy version for my girls (they don’t have their own PDAs yet).