Planet Google, By Randall Stross

"War, hyperinflation, breakdowns in public utility services" – just a few of the accidents of history that, as Randall Stross wisely points out, the all-consuming online data store has never had to face. Google's fair-weather expansion has proceeded at stunning speed since Stanford whizzkids Sergey Brin and Larry Page created it in 1998.

Now, in the week that General Motors goes under, Google still rides high as an outsize poster-child of the internet revolution. But never an "evil" monster, of course, as it stomps about cyberspace aiming to "organise the world's information".

If the pace of change means that this first-rate book misses recent Google tricks, the richness of the inside-track narrative and the sophistication of the analysis leaves rival cyber-histories way behind.

Stoss counts all the costs, as well as ticking off the benefits, of this "one-stop destination" for our records and our passions.