Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Gary Rivlin  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1958 in New York City

-- Website --
-- Gary Rivlin on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Lived in Cook County for 10 years

Biographical and Professional Information

Through most of his twenties, Gary Rivlin worked as a staff writer at the Chicago Reader, where he wrote primarily about Chicago politics. He inaugurated a regular “City Hall” column and for a time co-wrote (with his good friend Ted Cox) the paper’s “Hot Type” column but mainly wrote long cover articles delving into the politics dominating Chicago in the 1980s, when the city elected Harold Washington as its first black mayor. That experience led to his first book, Fire on the Prairie: Harold Washington and the Politics of Race, winner of the 1992 Carl Sandburg Award for best non-fiction and also the Chicago Sun-Times’s non-fiction book of the year.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Fire on the Prairie: Chicago's Harold Washington and the Politics of Race
ISBN: 0805026983

Henry Holt & Co. 1993

Explains how Harold Washington and his associates overcame the Daley political machine and built an administration that crossed racial lines and transformed Chicago politics

Drive By
ISBN: 0704380129

Interlink Publishing+group Inc. 1996

The story of a group of teenagers whose dispute over a bicycle ended in murder presents the experiences of their families, investigators, and defenders, in an examination of the human element of random violence. 15,000 first printing. $15,000 ad/promo.

The Plot to Get Bill Gates: An Irreverent Investigation of the World's Richest Man... and the People Who Hate Him
ISBN: 0812990730

Three Rivers Press. 2000

To understand the magnitude of Bill Gates, one must first understand the people who hate him, most of whom suffer from an acute case of "Bill Envy."

The Plot to Get Bill Gates is the true, hilarious story of a loosely knit cabal of Silicon Valley's wealthiest and most successful leaders and their quest to defeat the richest man in the world. These leaders are known within Microsoft as Captain Ahab's Club for their self-destructive fixation with harpooning the Great White Whale of Redmond, all two hundred pounds and $50 billion of him. Acclaimed journalist Gary Rivlin tells their tale as a high-tech variation on Moby-Dick, and by taking us deep inside the world of Gates and his enemies, he vividly reveals their consuming obsession.

Lead players in The Plot are Lawrence Ellison of Oracle, Scott McNealy of Sun Microsystems, Ray Noorda of Novell, Marc Andreessen and James Barksdale of Netscape, Philippe Kahn of Borland, and Gary Kildall (the unsung programmer who could have been Gates), with special guest appearances by venture capitalist John Doerr, consumer activist Ralph Nader, zealous attorney Gary Reback, and the Fraternal Order of Antitrust Lawyers. The author describes each man's ill-fated attempt at besting Gates, who seems to become bigger, hungrier, and more dangerous after each attack.

Rivlin also conducts an in-depth investigation of Gates himself, examining each crucial step in the ascension of the slope-shouldered billionaire with bad hair and unearthing the most telling details to explain why Gates is so rich and we aren't. (The short answer: monomania.) Rivlin concludes with an illuminating analysis of Microsoft's latest upgrade of its CEO, Gates 3.1, which seems to be operating with fewer bugs than previous incarnations.

Gary Rivlin's reporting is irreverent and intellectually independent, free of the romanticized portraits and techno-hype perpetuated by many in the media. As an award-winning political reporter, he brings a fresh perspective to the avaricious, bloodthirsty behavior of these new icons. The result is a savagely funny morality play about big business at the century's end.

The Godfather of Silicon Valley: Ron Conway and the Fall of the Dot-coms

AtRandom. 2001

Gary Rivlin tells the story of Ron Conway, the man who has placed more bets on Internet start-ups than anyone eise in Silicon Valley. Conway is a reader-friendly way into the realm of angel financing, where independently wealthy investors link up with companies just as they are being born. King of the Angels takes you into this fascinating world on the edges of the financial universe, where the pace is frantic, the story lines are rich, and every moment is perilous.


Carl Sandburg Award for Non-fiction for Fire on the Prairie

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)