Thursday, February 21, 2019

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

I don’t always read nonfiction, but when I do it’s for the hot tea.

On the surface, Bad Blood is the sensational story of  Elizabeth Holmes, a young ambitious college-dropout turned  CEO who used her access to wealth, power, privilege and influence to cause the downfall of Theranos, a billion dollar company.

As someone who has worked in a lot of offices and seen tons of office politics gone awry, there is something fascinating about hearing someone else’s workplace gossip, drama and scandals; all while knowing those in power are eventually held accountable. I mean it’s maddening some of the things the employees of Theranos had to live with in silence.

Elizabeth Holmes’ rise and fall from grace wasn’t that surprising to me. She had access to a world of wealth and privilege and while I appreciate Carreyrou not outright saying it--- and this probably isn’t fair to say ---it's not surprising that a conventionally attractive young woman who is undoubtedly smart and ambitious could easily pull in influencers. 

I’m not convinced Elizabeth Holmes set out to be a scammer. I think she got herself in too deep and tried to hide from the truth. She surrounded herself with people who refused to believe that she was over-promising because that would mean they sunk millions of dollars into false promises. I mean she was rubbing elbows with former secretary of states, Ex-CIA agents, tech millionaires and people who would later become aides in the Trump Administration.

It’s interesting that Carreyrou was put on the story by a mid-sized pathology blogger-- because pathology blogging is a thing. John Carreyrou makes a point to presents himself in the story as an enterprising investigative reporter who participates in clandestine meetings, goes toe-to-toe with lawyers and his editor to bring the truth to the surface.

Will Damron narrates the audiobook and I’ve been sort of so-so on some of the YA he has done, but his voice works for non-fiction, he has a very instructive quality and he went all in on the few moments that required a slightly cinematic touch.

I think her story of blind ambition, wealth and ego goes hand-in-hand with Billy McFarland from Fyre Festival, her face even appears in Fyre Fraud. Like seriously she and McFarland should do a TED Talk or appear on Celebrity Big Brother together or something . . .  when they get out of prison. Holmes hasn’t been convicted yet, but…come on.

Just as I finished this book ABC News released their podcast about Elizabeth Holes called The Dropout, I mean the podcast is okay, but they just scratch the surface of the story. It is interesting to hear the tapes from her deposition and you get to hear Elizabeth’s trademark voice. Carreyrou is in the podcast and I kind of feel like he should have been the entry point into the podcast since he broke the story.

Also, there is an HBO documentary which has an interesting visual style that I think will be interesting.

Based on how much Holmes reputation meant to her I bet she is fuming about all this.

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