Sara Miles. Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $24 (256p) ISBN 0-374-17714-7

With billions in revenues and little political affiliation, Silicon Valley in the early 1990s was a jewel waiting to be snatched by either major party. The Democrats acted first, due largely to the efforts of Wade Randlett, the main figure in Miles's lively, firsthand account of the awakening of Silicon Valley's political consciousness and the wrangling that ensued. Randlett, an independent fundraiser and democratic political consultant, saw a chance to become an important player on Vice-President Al Gore's team by serving as the primary conduit between the Valley and Washington. Miles shows how Randlett, with significant backing from the powerful venture capitalist John Doerr, organized the mostly apolitical business and technical leaders of the Valley in a successful effort to defeat California's Proposition 211, designed to allow for shareholder lawsuits against California executives. Following the proposition's defeat in 1996, Randlett and Doerr formed TechNet, the first major political action committee to represent the interests of the Valley's high-tech companies. With Randlett's party ties and Gore's eagerness to be associated with the New Economy, TechNet tended to favor New Democrats. But as thoroughly as Miles charts the dynamics that tied the Valley to Washington, she writes in something of a vacuum. Though Gore's relationship to Silicon Valley is a major focus, Miles refers only passingly to his nomination in 2000 and fails to discuss the Valley's role in his campaign. She also overlooks the possible effects of the New Economy's crash on Silicon Valley's political influence. Given the current postelection turmoil, Miles's book is the victim of events happening at Internet-speed. (Feb.)