"" Hi, it's Jeff." Silence. " Your grandson, " I added.
" Oh. Yes. Jeff. How are you?" " Great, " he said, sounding
genuinely surprised. " Why don't you come by and pet the robots?" "
In Sunnyvale, California, in 1979, Jeff Goodell's family lived
quietly on Meadowlark Lane, unaware that their town was soon to
become ground zero in the digital revolution. Then one day his
mother announced that she and his father were divorcing after
twenty years of marriage. Big deal, thought Jeff. " Everybody we
knew was splitting up-it was the romantic equivalent of the
pet-rock craze." Over the next decade, Silicon Valley boomed, and
the Goodell family unraveled. Sunnyvale: The Rise and Fall of a
Silicon Valley Family is the story of a fragile, all-too-ordinary
family caught at the epicenter of one of the great economic,
cultural, and technological explosions in recent history.
After the divorce, Goodell's mother went to work for a little
company called Apple Computer and began her ascent into the new
world; his father, a landscape contractor who valued plants and
trees over bits and bytes, found himself alone and falling farther
and farther behind. For the Goodell children, the aftershocks
brought pain and confusion: Jeff ran off to Lake Tahoe and the fast
track to nowhere; his younger brother, Jerry, began a nightmarish
descent into drugs, alcohol, and sexual experimentation; and
eleven-year-old Jill bounced between two houses, struggling to make
sense of her shattered world.
Watching it all was grandfather Leonard Goodell, a Westinghouse
ur-geek who-even in his lateseventies-still had enough mental
horsepower to work as a lead engineer in a robotics factory. But as
Leonard watched his son's family fall apart, he realized his
worldly success had not come without a human cost, and near the end
of his life he began his own quest for forgiveness and redemption.
Sunnyvale is a portrait of a way of life that is no more, in a
place where progress runs wild. It is about individuals struggling
to make lives for themselves in a brutally Darwinian world. Above
all, it is about what we owe to the people we love. A unique and
compelling family story, it is also a resonant document of our age.
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