Saturday Jan 20
Jack Daniel: 3 Books that Changed My Life
Updated on Tuesday, 17 February 2015 09:03

In this series, I asked infosec professionals to name 3 books that changed their life. This entry features picks from Jack Daniel, the self-proclaimed security curmudgeon and peer-described “glue” of our industry.

Perhaps best known as the co-founder of Security BSides, there are many accolades of Jack’s professional success, and I might say the more subtle, softer side of Jack is often overshadowed by his well-developed curmudgeonly persona. The short version is that he wins awards, does great things, helps lots of people, and will never turn a blind eye or hurried goodbye to a friend in need. He does all this while sporting an exceptionally long beard and skeptical brow, both of which he’s well known for.

Jack’s interest in helping others is bolstered by his investigation in to the burnout and stress prevalent in our industry. His attention to this matter has influenced my own interests in helping the community through the application of neuroscience and mindful practices.

photo-jack daniel-books

A peek at a small slice of the Daniel home library.


The signature Jack look.

Without further ado, I’d like to wish Jack and his wife a happy 35th anniversary and share his top picks with you.

jackdaniel-book01-1984 1984, George Orwell

This is the only traditional “classic” in my list.  I read 1984 well before the year 1984, the book gave a needed boost to my budding skepticism and made me question political motives and pronouncements more than ever before.  And being raised in Texas, I found plenty to question.  In hindsight, I think that many of the dire predictions were off- but only because the more insidious ideas of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World have proven to be more close to the truth.

jackdaniel-book02-masterandcommander Master and Commander

There are a couple of things about Master and Commander that were important to me.  First, it was one of the first audiobooks I listened to that really hooked me- audiobooks have now improved my commuting, travel, and road trips for decades.  The Aubrey-Maturin series alone made for a couple of years of improved commutes.  Second, this book reignited my interest in all things nautical which led to sailing adventures (aka near-death on the high seas) and working as volunteer shipwright and crew on the late HMS Bounty replica; these in turn reignited my interest in woodworking, woodcarving, and blacksmithing.

jackdaniel-book03-bitters Bitters, Brad Thomas Parsons

I’ve been interested in “drinking better” for years, becoming the obligatory InfoSec beer snob, being a promoter of artisanal hard ciders, good whiskey, and proper cocktails.  Bitters is the book that kicked me into digging deeper into craft cocktails, the history, the evolution, and the craft of craft cocktails.  My adventures in craft cocktails have led me to many great conversations and an amazing amount of great food and drink while on the road, which has led to a much better time when traveling.

Ways to find Jack Daniel:

Go to “3 Books That Changed My Life” series introduction post.