The Pretenders is an autobiographical novel. Told through the adventures of Joel Kramer, it is the story of tens of thousands with degrees in history, English, communications, psychology and other disciplines who worked in high tech and who unintentionally became pretenders. They lived through, contributed to, and helped create the history of the computer industry.

As a personal story, the book chronicles Joel’s life from the time he met Julie, the love of his life, through grad school, military service, and a 38 year civilian career spent principally in high tech marketing, sales, and business development.

Joel’s military service was similar to that of hundreds of thousands of men and women who took their turn standing on the wall during dangerous times. In their own way, each contributed to the defeat and ultimate break-up of the Soviet Union and the winning of the cold war.

As a history of the computer industry, The Pretenders chronicles the dramatic changes in computer technology from the days of the mainframe to the forerunner of cloud computing.

As a history of our times, The Pretenders records events from the days of JFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis through the great national nightmare of Vietnam to 9/11, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The Pretenders is history as seen by an everyday participant in those events. It is the story of all who have struggled, experienced tragedy and joy, and lived through what have been, as the ancient Chinese curse says, “interesting” times.

Leland Katz, author of The Pretenders has developed a three hour course based on the book, his personal experience, and research he has done. Called Perspectives on Today’s World, the Past as Prologue, Mr. Katz will, in the course of three one hour presentations explore the U.S. relationship with Russia, with Turkey, and the situation in the Middle East, Extremely timely, this program can be made available under the right circumstances. Those interested can contact the author through this web page and through the Facebook Page for the book at the following link.


Book Reviews

5.0 out of 5 stars Not just for “techies”
By Palm River Tao on September 25, 2018
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

The Pretenders is a great read! I enjoy it even though I’m not a big tech guy. It describes life in the 60’s, from the eyes of a guy who got his start into the tech world from his duties in the USAF. It’s truly a fascinating read and I Highly recommend it to anyone looking for a good book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read!
By dm042 0on August 23, 2018
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase

Having lived through this era at these companies this book was a great visit to my past! The book combined the technical aspects with the political intrigue and business politics in high technology. Loved it.

“I’m not a big “tech” guy, but this book is an excellent read. I highly recommend it!”

By Rod Burch

Read the book. Really great job. Amazing love story.
By Geoff

Vincent Parisi rated it (5stars) it was amazin
Written as a novel so that the author can express his opinions freely, “The Pretenders” by Leland Katz is a view of the development of the computer industry from the inside. As such, it is heavily technical, but filled with vivid descriptions of people and their daily activities that give a widely and informative picture of how business is conducted and the push and pull of individual activities that makes things happen.

These are real people doing what they must to accomplish their ends, either with or in spite of the activities of others. The book is about reality, and not the orderly processes that we assume are the typical business day. “The Pretenders” would be especially useful for those who are studying for an MBA, or anyone interested in how the real business world operates.

Telcochris rated it (4 stars) really liked it
Full disclosure- The author and I both worked at BEA Systems in the late 1990s – early 2000’s. We’ve not been in touch with each other since then other than one or two Linked In messages.

The Pretenders really captures a special time in history – the time when high tech moved from mysterious and esoteric to commonplace and ubiquitous. It is an era that when historians look back will be one of those turning points in Man’s history. While others have written about this time, Lee does so from a perspective that I have not seen before. Rather than focus on the engineers or the leaders, he provides a clear view into the role of marketing and lower management.

This makes it sound like a text book – and The Pretenders is not a textbook but rather a fun roller coaster of a read. The prose captures your attention and sweeps you from one episode to the next and ultimately to the time when he and I both walked the halls of BEA. I’ll confess to looking for myself in the characters there!!

Foreword Clarion Review

“Leland J. Katz’s contemporary autobiographical novel The Pretenders is a professional coming-of-age story that follows Joel Kramer through the ups and downs of his life in the burgeoning field of computer technology. Like the field itself, Joel experiences rapid change both in his employment and his personal life over the span of fifty years.

The story tracks Joel from his college graduation in 1959 to his retirement in 2011. He is an early entry into the then brand-new profession of high tech, working in its developing years in the 1960s. After serving in the military abroad, in places including Germany and Greece, he and his wife, Julie, return to America. The . . . novel focuses on Joel’s numerous corporate jumps, business meetings, family life, and personal frustrations.

Joel and his steadfast wife, Julie, are endearing characters, especially in their domestic settings. Their development results from their interactions in real-life contexts rather than as drones in the workplace. Their multiple moves for career improvement and their dedication to their family life are rendered with touching earnestness . . . and Joel’s home and work lives conflict with each other throughout.”


Kirkus Review



Leland J. Katz
iUniverse (772 pp.)
$28.99 paperback, $3.99 e-book
ISBN: 978-1-5320-3822-8; June 15, 2018



A debut autobiographical novel about one man’s struggles in business and military matters in the 20th century.

Joel Kramer’s journey begins at the University of Massachusetts in 1959, where he becomes an Air Force officer and meets his future wife, Julie Arlington. After he gets married and receives a master’s degree, he embarks on a military career in the midst of the Cold War. Although Joel is initially stationed stateside, it isn’t long before he winds up in West Germany with a crucial task. Essentially, if the Soviet Union were to engage in hostile activity, he would be an “alert duty officer” who’d be responsible for ensuring that nuclear bombs were launched, when ordered. After Germany, Joel is stationed in Greece, where he serves as a courier for top-secret documents.

The book then follows his later years after leaving the Air Force; he and Julie return to the United States and raise two children, and he embarks on a career full of ups and downs, mostly in the nascent field of computing. He observes various developments in technology, including the inventions of the ethernet and the first internet browser, and sees how businesses attempt to keep up with the changes.

However, the best parts of the novel are its earlier sections, when the author astutely explains the mix of fear and

boredom that encompassed much of Cold War life. For example, Joel, during his time in Germany, does drills for what he knows may very well be the end of the world. By contrast, his days in the business world aren’t nearly as thrilling; . . . readers do get a firsthand look at technological growth in America, . . . .

An earnest . . . historical tale.