Pros: Interesting and accessible.
Cons: Either biased journalism or shallow social commentary.
Cyberpunk: Outlaws and Hackers on the Computer Frontier tells the stories of three men convicted of computer crimes: Kevin Mitnick, Hans "Pengo" Huebner, and Robert Tappan Morris. Each story is told in its entirety in a separate section of the book, and provides biographical information about the hacker as well as the details of his crime(s) and capture. While there are occasional references to other cases, a few recurring characters (mostly computer security types) and plenty of recurring themes, each section of the book is independent of the other two.
Kevin Mitnick is probably the most famous hacker of all time, and has himself written a couple of books on computer crime. He is also the most traditional hacker described in the book, supplementing his online activities with break-ins, dumpster diving, phone freaking, and social engineering. Of the three hackers described in the book, Mitnick comes across as the most sinister, using his skills to tamper with his enemies' phone lines, credit ratings, and electronic data.
Hans "Pengo" Huebner was a member of Germany's Chaos Computer Club, an ideological group of hackers that gained some notoriety in the 1980s. For Pengo (at least in the authors' view) hacking was mainly intellectual exercise, and his crimes were more a byproduct of his travels through the network than an end goal. His trouble started when some of his associates began selling the software and information they'd picked up while hacking to communist intelligence agents.
The final hacker covered, Robert Tappan Morris, started learning about computers as a child from his father, Bob Morris, who worked for Bell Labs during the early days of the internet. Robert Tappan the younger got in trouble when a program he had designed to replicate itself across the net got out of hand due to a design flaw and shut down computers all across the country. The authors give Morris the most sympathetic treatment, presenting him as a scientist whose computer crimes were the result of a simple mistake.
Overall, the book is occasionally dry but very readable. Hafner and Markoff do a good job of providing enough details to keep the computer literate engaged without making the book inaccessible to a general audience. My main complaint with the book is that it doesn't seem to know whether it's journalism or social commentary. If it's the former, the authors should have been more even-handed in their coverage of the three hackers. If it's the latter, more information about the "hacker ethic" and how it's changed over the years is essential.