I read a ton of books, mostly at lunch on my Kindle. It’s my way of escaping the work day grind and restoring a little of my soul. But it’s rare that I read a book that moves me enough to really want to talk about it. Sometimes it’s because the story was outstanding (The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August comes to mind) and sometimes it’s because the story just leaves me dead inside (The Prince of Nothing series…. seriously, go read it and get back to me with WTF JUST HAPPENED???).
Bad Blood is one of those books.
Bad Blood is written by John Carreyrou, the Wall Street Journal reporter who broke the story about how Theranos, the Silicon Valley darling trying to revolutionize health care, was nothing more than a dumpster fire of fraud and broken dreams. There’s a ton of info out there on what happened, how it happened, and how it all ended up, so it’s not like you don’t already know the ending when you start. But the beauty of this book is in the telling.
The early chapters each (sort of) focus on a minor player, usually an employee, or a family friend of the CEO of Theranos, Elizabeth Holmes, and their interactions with the company. Most of the time, those interactions devolved into a firing, a quitting, or some sort of personal animosity as Theranos escalated its attempt to cover up the fact that they were blatantly lying about what their products could do and failing to deliver on pretty much every promise they ever made. The middle to late chapters is where the bad blood (get it?) begins to accumulate, leading to a tip to Carreyrou, who begins investigating this fast-rising, $9 billion startup, one that sported a Who’s Who of political and tech giants on its board of directors.
The books then transitions into a thriller as Theranos learns about the story and tries to use every dirty trick imaginable to stop it. Like, gangster-level kind of stuff. I don’t want to spoil anything, because I really do want you to go out and buy this book, but needless to say, I read this book in about three looong sittings. And it was worth it. And the extra good news is a movie is being made, because of course it is. But I’m looking forward to this because I need to see it on the big screen and I need other people to see it because I WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT! Seriously, I need to find someone to share in the incredulity I’m feeling right now. This place was messed up, and I had to keep reminding myself that I was reading a non-fiction book.
Anyway, the book is below so you can go check it out, and I recommend you do. It starts slow, but it’s a great read, and a great reminder of how even well-intentioned people can let horrible things happen. I’m even adding a link to a Wired article that offers an excerpt of the book, in case you need some more proof.
As an aside, the last time I read a book like this, a non-fiction account of harrowing, real-life events, that really left an impression on me, was At the Devil’s Table. It’s the story of Jorge Salcedo, the nice-guy security chief who turned on the Cali Cartel and essentially brought them down from the inside. His story is actually the main thread of Narcos Season 3 on Netflix, and I can’t tell you how excited I was to watch that after reading the book. Talking about Bad Blood reminded me of that, and I never really mentioned my love of this story online before now so I wanted to make sure I put that out there as well. I’ve added an embed of that book as well, because it’s just as good (or maybe even better???) than Bad Blood. So make sure you grab both.