BOOKS: A COMIC ROMAN A CHIP

PO BRONSON'S TALE OF GEEK GREED AND TREACHERY HAS ALL SILICON VALLEY WONDERING WHO'S WHO

Jake McGowan is squirming. It's this new book, Po Bronson's The First $20 Million Is Always the Hardest (Random House; 302 pages; $23). Bronson, whose first novel, Bombardiers, skewered the world of Wall Street bond traders, has now set his sights on Silicon Valley. What fascinates McGowan is that the book reads like an old-fashioned roman a clef, in which fictional characters bear an uncomfortable resemblance to people you know--in this case, several computer-industry legends.

The story is about a young entrepreneur who (like McGowan) gets frustrated with the ineptitude of a middle-sized computer company (like McGowan's former employer, Silicon Graphics)...

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