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Summary

A New York Times best seller.

Winner of the Financial Times/McKinsey Business Book of the Year Award 2018.

The full inside story of the breathtaking rise and shocking collapse of Theranos, the multibillion-dollar biotech startup, by the prize-winning journalist who first broke the story and pursued it to the end, despite pressure from its charismatic CEO and threats by her lawyers.

In 2014, Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes was widely seen as the female Steve Jobs: a brilliant Stanford dropout whose startup 'unicorn' promised to revolutionise the medical industry with a machine that would make blood testing significantly faster and easier. Backed by investors such as Larry Ellison and Tim Draper, Theranos sold shares in a fundraising round that valued the company at more than $9 billion, putting Holmes' worth at an estimated $4.7 billion. There was just one problem: the technology didn't work.

In Bad Blood, John Carreyrou tells the riveting story of the biggest corporate fraud since Enron, a tale of ambition and hubris set amid the bold promises of Silicon Valley.

Now to be adapted into a film, with Jennifer Lawrence to star.

©2018 John Carreyrou (P)2018 Macmillan Digital Audio

Critic reviews

"Wall Street Journal investigative journalist Carreyrou presents meticulously researched, clearly written evidence of the fraud perpetrated by business wunderkind Elizabeth Holmes. The former CEO of the once-renowned Silicon Valley startup, Theranos, bilked investors of millions and potentially risked the lives of patients around the world with a groundbreaking diagnostic product that did not work reliably. Will Damron is the perfect choice as narrator. His precisely articulated style makes the entire effort sound as if it is a cloak-and-dagger spy novel." (AudioFile)

"Chilling...Reads like a West Coast version of All the President’s Men." (New York Times Book Review)  

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Brilliant

Very well written/spoken. Really interesting book and well worth the read, could not put it down

14 people found this helpful

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A fascinating dissection of the real Theranos

Bad Blood: Secrets And Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou

Hello again to my readers! This is definitely going to be one of those instances where my review topic is decidedly outside my usual focus topics of science fiction, history, fantasy and crime (to a degree.) Although in this case after finishing the book I feel a compulsion to talk about it in some way even if I end up sounding slightly less focused and more rambling than usual.

Bad Blood by John Carreyrou is one of those books in physical form or in audio you can’t stop yourself from reading. It’s like watching one of those never ending car chases but on live TV. It’s a real story of a strange mix of genuine desire to improve medical science from some individuals, a simple desire to make money and a refusal to actually learn the lessons required to make the necessary changes and improve flawed structures internally and externally. But I should give a basic overview of what the book is about for those who don’t know.

Bad Blood is a book about the Theranos scandal, one of the most recent and horrific incidents of disgraceful misconduct in Silicon Valley. The book tells the story behind the meteoric rise and equally sudden fall of Theranos, a multi billion dollar (using American money since the book gives numbers in American currency) medical technology company. In 2014 they and the owner – Elizabeth Holmes – were seen as one of the great hopes of the Valley, promising to revolutionise healthcare with a machine that would greatly simplify the process of blood testing. At one point the company was worth more than $4.7 billion. Only one small issue: the device was a lie. This book is the full book released by the journalist who initially broke the story of Theranos’s lies.

Carreyrou writes the book mostly in a third-person descriptive style, looking at events from the point of view of select individuals he is quoting or in some select cases paraphrasing. For example at one point when talking about an ex-Theranos employee’s attempts to leave the company building after saying goodbye to long time friends while being hounded by lawyers to sign certain documents, he makes a point of describing the events from their point of view and in some cases using their own words.

The only instance where this is not the case is towards the end of the book where Carreyrou himself comes into ‘the story’ so to speak and describes the rest of the book mostly from his own first person perspective with some moments in third person from other points of view.

Thanks to interviews with individuals who saw behind the scenes such as ex-employees, government department staff, close friends of Elizabeth’s own family and certain famous individuals involved in the story you are able to see to some degree how it felt to work at Theranos during different stages of its life, the various ways in which Theranos’s concepts were inherently flawed and the horrific behaviour and bullying of its Chief Operating Officer Ramesh ‘Sunny’ Balwani. The stories you are told are frankly horrifying. Beyond nightmares. In several ways? This book reminds me of my review of The Church Of Fear from back in January.

Bad Blood is fascinating. It is not easy listening by any means, some of the strategies attempted by Theranos make me feel inherently ill just thinking about how to phrase this article. You will either be like myself and fascinated despite the horror and therefore compelled to continue to the end of this real life story or you will never want to pick this book up in your life.

The narration for this audiobook edition is performed by a Mr Will Damron who in my opinion does a rather good job. His voice is – for the most part – very calm and relaxed. The only instances where this changes is when he’s quoting the words of individuals who were very angered and furious at the moment in question in which case he does raise his voice or somewhat change his tone to a small degree but the vast majority of the time his voice is calm and surprisingly easy to listen to given the topic in question. I can’t really imagine the audio version being in any way different. When bringing up important details and factual information he does so in a way that made the information relatively easy to understand even on those instances where the information provided to the reader or listener is more technical than the rest of the book. Damron’s narration in short – despite it not usually being my preferred style of narration – worked very well in this audiobook and I’d be more than willing to give him another listen on some of his other audio work.

In conclusion if the subject or the idea behind it interests you I HIGHLY recommend you obtain a copy as soon as you can. So long as you feel you may be able to cope with some of the less savoury elements. I hope I can persuade some of my readers to give this a read or listen despite it not being my usual review topic.

Also for your information according to the all powerful Wikipedia Holmes and Balwani are due to be in court in August of 2020 although whether that information is still accurate or not is debatable.

Sayonara!

Nephrite

8 people found this helpful

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might be the best book I've read in a decade

this is one of those books that will be talked about for a generation. quite simply a masterpiece.

8 people found this helpful

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Excellent Read!

After a few very bad choices I've made on books from listening to customers reviews, which I have now found out were fake, it was a relief to finally come accross a decent book.

Thoroughly enjoyed this book! I don't normally do this, but as the characters were real, I googled their image so I could put a face to a name and found this worked wonders.

I held back from googling the real story incase it spoilt my read but having finished the book about an hour ago, I have been catching up with the news on these dispicable people.

5 people found this helpful

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Excellent book

Excellent book. Incredible achievement of the author, who with help of Tyler Schulz and a few other key people together uncovered the con job did by Elisabeth Holmes. A great read but also a great favour to the humanity - they have almost certainly saved lives.

5 people found this helpful

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chilling story of ambition and public wishfulness

this was a terrific book, and cautionary tale about our gullibility and confirmation bias. The importance of upholding rigor in journalism is borne out in this very well written account of the Theranos scandal. many people who should have known and acted with more circumspection are revealed to have few scruples, while the serious character flaws and judgment of Elizabeth Holmes is draw-droppingly retold. one is left with the impression, however, that despite all this, she probably still doesn't get it.

4 people found this helpful

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Like a thriller!

It was my first audible experience and I think this book was a great choice to start that. The book is very well written. It was a gripping story, maybe being a true story made it very interesting. It was well narrated as well. Overall it was a good book.
p.s. I'm really proud of that Tyler kid! Also great ethics by the journalist..

3 people found this helpful

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Very good if you're intrigued by the story

I found this book having read the initial WSJ article and been captivated by the story of Elizabeth Holmes - If you are similarly intrigued you will enjoy this detailed account which follows the story from start to finish.

The only gripe I had was that there was almost too much detail in parts - for example no character is ever just 'driving their car' it is always more along the lines of 'he sat at the wheel of his shiny black AUDI 2017 SUV with tinted windows and a matte finish, a slight dent was visible in the passenger side door from a recent scrape with a blue 2008 Ford in a local grocery parking lot when he popped out to pick up steaks for his wife Belinda...'!!! This level of excruciating detail lends authenticity, but did drag a little by the end.

Overall though I really enjoyed this book and feel I know all there is to know about the Theranos debacle, which I'm sure will make me very fun at parties.

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Superb, revelatory read

It is flabbergasting that one person could fool so many high profile, seasoned investors. Even Rupert Murdoch had the wool pulled over his eyes.

This is a very human story but one that leaves you thinking how did it all get so far?

Brilliant, read it!

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amazing listen

really enjoyed this, it's an amazing story. the book is so well written it plays out like a Jason Borne film (first three!) . highly recommend

2 people found this helpful