I don’t read many non-fiction books, and I particularly despise biographies. I find them to be boring. I don’t judge anyone for liking them, but I don’t. This book is different. Yes, it is a biography of a person and a company, but it reads like a drama-filled thriller. The several points of view in the story just add to the drama, instead of detracting from it.
Author: John Carreyrou
Number of Pages: 303
Genre: Business Biography
John Carreyrou is an author, as well as a journalist for The Wall Street Journal. Bad Blood is his first book. He was made aware of this story from a blog writer, and it took him several months to research enough for even his first story. He wanted all his facts to be correct, and have a bulletproof story before going to print. His subject was notorious for suing for “libelous” statements, so his story had to be able to stand up to that. Needless to say, this book is proof that he was able to do that.
This book doesn’t read like a non-fiction book. It tells the story of a company’s meteoric rise and subsequent fall, but in such an engaging way I forgot I was reading a true story. I even looked up Elizabeth Holmes, the subject of the book, on YouTube, because I wanted to see what she looked like and sounded like. I had a very different picture in my head. I pictured a brunette “nerdy” look, which is absolutely not what Elizabeth Holmes looks like. She’s so pretty!
On one hand, the book had me feeling semi-sorry for Elizabeth. She wanted so badly to revolutionize healthcare, and if her idea had worked, she would have. Her idea of creating a “portable blood lab” that people could have in their homes to make blood testing quicker and more convenient was an awesome idea. I was caught up in her dream, except for her severe mistakes.
The book describes several instances where Elizabeth cut corners, and at other times outright lied, in order to make her dream come true. This I was NOT OK with.
Excerpt (no spoilers, I promise)
Elizabeth Anne Holmes knew she wanted to be a successful entrepreneur from a young age. When she was seven, she set out to design a time machine and filled up a notebook with detailed engineering drawings.
When she was nine or ten, one of her relatives asked her at a family gathering the question every boy and girl is asked sooner or later: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Without skipping a beat, Elizabeth replied, “I want to be a billionaire.”
These weren’t the idle words of a child. Elizabeth uttered them with the utmost seriousness and determination, according to a family member who witnessed the scene.
What saddens me the most, is that Elizabeth Holmes made good on her desire to be a billionaire. When Theranos, her company, was at the height of its success, Elizabeth Holmes was worth a whopping $9 billion.
I can’t think of anything I didn’t like in regards to the writing, or the storytelling. Most of what I didn’t like stemmed from the lengths Elizabeth Holmes went to to make her dream come true. John Carreyrou is a very good storyteller, and it is obvious he did a TON of research to make sure his facts were correct.
What I loved was the way the author divided his story. Each chapter was a part of the story told from the point of view of a different person involved in the scandal. The whole book, except for the parts that the author himself was involved with, was told in 3rd person. This made it easier to not get confused about who was talking, or what was going on. I was on the edge of my seat for almost the entire book!
The style of the book is written almost like a book-length newspaper article. This makes sense, because the author is a journalist. While it read like a newspaper article, there was enough description that kept it from sounding stunted. I don’t read the newspaper often, because I get frustrated by the “he said, she said” form of an article. I like stories to be more personal sounding. Mr. Carreyrou achieved this in spades.
I give this book 5 stars, and recommend it to everyone! This book was so good! I will probably purchase it, as I currently have it checked out from the library. I’d love to own a copy.
If you enjoy biographies, or Silicon Valley stories, or scandal, or even just dramatic stories….this book is for you. This book is a cautionary tale against going to all lengths to realize a dream, but at the same time, it’s a book that gives some of us hope that dreaming isn’t a bad thing. Elizabeth Holmes dreamed, and she dreamed big. That doesn’t make her a bad person. The mistake she made was realizing her own dream on the backs of underprivileged, sick, American people.
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Until next time, bookworms!