He was born in the U.S.S.R. in 1958. Through high school he immersed himself in math Olympiads and political incorrectness. In 1977 he came to America in search of freedom. His life there has gone through four stages. He started out with a self-taught programming career. He followed up with a study of philosophy and mathematics. He left school for an entrepreneurial venture in Internet technology. He is living through its acrimonious and catastrophic aftermath. He is concluding five years' worth of startup wind-down and litigation. The defendants are his former partners, a former girlfriend and a publicly traded company founded by her father. His rewards comprise withstanding death threats, doing right by his former employees, and delivering a comeuppance to his enemies. His father was a plaintiff in a related lawsuit. He has perished in an apartment fire of suspicious origins. His mother suffers from Alzheimer's aggravated by this trauma. She is left in his care. He lives in a rickety house sitting on a Hollywood hillside. It is full of dusty books, loaded guns, half-assembled Italian automobility, and cranky old dogs. Michael writes to stave off insanity.