The Cobweb

ISBN: 0553383442
ISBN 13: 9780553383447
By: Neal Stephenson J. Frederick George

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About this book

Clyde's life gets complicated when his wife is called up for the Army Reserve in response to a crisis in the Middle East, leaving Clyde in charge of their five-month-old daughter. Then a foreign exchange student is found floating in the lake. As Clyde investigates, he uncovers a plot afoot in his own small town that may have global implications.

Reader's Thoughts

Michael Murdoch

From his triumphant debut with Snow Crash to the stunning success of his latest novel, Quicksilver, Neal Stephenson has quickly become the voice of a generation. In this now-classic political thriller, he and fellow author J. Frederick George tell a savagely witty, chillingly topical tale set in the tense moments of the Gulf War. **When a foreign exchange student is found murdered at an Iowa University, Deputy Sheriff Clyde Banks finds that his investigation extends far beyond the small college town—all the way to the Middle East. Shady events at the school reveal that a powerful department is using federal grant money for highly dubious research. And what it’s producing is a very nasty bug. Navigating a plot that leads from his own backyard to Washington, D.C., to the Gulf, where his Army Reservist wife has been called to duty, Banks realizes he may be the only person who can stop the wholesale slaughtering of thousands of Americans. It’s a lesson in foreign policy he’ll never forget. From the Trade Paperback edition. Review "Praise for Neal Stephenson: I have seldom felt such humble, intoxicated, euphoric and droolingly grateful awe as before Neal Stephenson's ... Baroque Cycle" -- Christopher Brookmyre, Glasgow Herald "The Confusion Ideas about currency and calculus become thrilling because of the way Stephenson incorporates them into his story ... Huge in scope ... rich in detail ... This weird, wonderful collision of scholarship and storytelling has no peer" Time Out "Quicksilver: A tour-de-force ... Dense, witty, erudite and gripping, Quicksilver is ... an indication that Stephenson's Baroque Cycle is shaping up to be a far more impressive literary endeavour than most so-called "serious" fiction. No scholarly, and intellectually provocative, historical novel has been this much fun since The Name of the Rose" -- Charles Shaar Murray The Independent "Cryptonomicon: The Gravity's Rainbow of the information age ... an astonishing, monumental performance; and if the rumours of a sequel are true, I can hardly wait" The Independent About the Author Neal Stephenson is the author of The Baroque Trilogy (Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System Of The World). His other books include Cryptonomicon, Snow Crash, The Diamond Age, and Zodiac, as well as Cobweb and Interface, written in collaboration with Frederick George. He lives in Seattle.


Not bad. Rather similar to "God's Fist", with a bit of Sthepenson's sense of humour and reminiscences about the Palouse.

Cary Ussery

This was a good book and the story was intriguing. However, this did not 'feel' like a Neal Stephenson book; not sure how the co-author collaboration worked here but this seems less Stephenson and, therefore, I assum more George. Nice, fast-paced read and thriller.


Filled with humor and biting irony, "Cobweb" is the best book on the US government that I've read. It's also the best book on the Midwest, and the fact that it manages to be both at the same time is further proof (as if this were necessary) that Neal Stephenson is a treasure.Fortunately for me, Stephenson spends most of his time in the Science-Fiction / Fantasy genre, but this book, written in his early days, is a classic thriller in the mode of John Le Carré and Robert Ludlum. Since that's not where I typically hang out, I'm not quite sure how I came across the book... but I'm glad I did. The setup is plausible, the stakes impressively high, the principle characters beautifully limned, and the observations on how the US executive branch works and mid-West life ring absolutely true and at times are painfully funny.There are a couple of flaws (a few too many useful coincidences, and the ending is a little rushed and implausible), hence four stars, but I'd recommend it over most books I've rated with five.


This is a great story about the events that may have been going on prior to the Iraq war. I loved the way Neal referenced how Washington works. Having spent some time there myself, it brought up some interesting analogies. You see, I know how the government agencies work, and Neal is dead on. I also loved the way he developed the Sheriff and his character. A very entertaining read. Who knows, perhaps the plot is plausible.


A very different sort of book by one of my favorite authors.Little in the way of science fiction, but some interesting biology stuff.I just enjoy Stephenson's characters so much, it made the book fun.Also, the plot had good mystery in it, which Stephenson also does well!Not sure what to make of the politics in the book.

Tori Jo Lau

Much like the other book I've read by Neal Stephenson, this one took several chapters to wrap my head around, as there were several narrative threads to introduce before anything really happened. But again like the other book, the initial powering through paid off beautifully. A gripping and at times intense novel, with some really satisfying reveals. I have a feeling there'll be a bit of a Stephenson-marathon in my near future..


El ayudante del Sheriff de un pueblecito de Iowa se encuentra con el asesinato de un estudiante de la Escuela de ingenieros agrónomos del condado. La investigación se irá expandiendo hasta llegar mucho más allá de lo inicialmente supuesto. Un único ayudante de Sheriff se las tendrá que ver con algo mucho más poderoso que él.Me encanta el estilo de Neal stephenson, que escribió esta novela, al igual que Interface, con su tío. Dos thrillers que enganchan completamente, por la historia y por el estilo con que es narrada. Altamente recomendable.

Bhakta Jim

Very entertaining thriller with one of the best protagonists I've ever come across. Plenty of thrills, humor, and anything else you ever wanted in a story. The story is remarkably plausible, even after we failed to find any WMD's in Iraq. I wouldn't mind more books with this hero, either.Stephenson is best known for his science fiction, which this is not. Don't let that stop you from reading it.The story would make a great movie.


Slow start but very exciting at the end. Dated because it's about the first Gulf war. Not really an alternate history, but a possible behind-the-scenes intrigue.


This book was one of those "oh well, I don't have anything else to ready right now" kind of books and turned out to be a suprisingly great read. Great characters, good writing and a unique story that was not sci-fi related at all. I really recommend this one.


This novel is full of biting satire, of academia, small Midwestern towns, and government. As an academic, I guffah'ed repeatedly at the wry descriptions of university politics and corruption! As after reading other books by Neil Stephenson, I desperately hope he branches into screenplays - the imagery in this novel is equally exquisitely detailed and creative!


Great book based on biological warfare and American government; Funny, hard to put down.

Markus Jevring

Unlike Neal Stephenson's many other books, this was just barely acceptable. I realize it's a cooperation with another author, but they made Interface together, and that was so good. By comparison, this book is garbage. It was quite well written, but the story just wasn't that interesting.

Matías Kornacher

It is a strange book, a bit confusing or boring. I didn't like it very much.

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