Thursday, June 25, 2015

Ben Mezrich's "The Accidental Billionaires"...A Book Review


A couple of weeks ago I heard Jim Rome interview Ben Mezrich on his latest book about Russian billionaires. The book sounds fascinating. So much so, I logged into my local library and looked at all the audiobooks available from Ben Mezrich. I had read his book on the M.I.T. blackjack players who created a system to beat the house. They made a movie about it and the book was great. His latest book about the Russians was unavailable in audiobook form, but I did see another book called The Accidental Billionaires that was available. I downloaded it and began listening to it this week. I had no idea what the book was about.

Not knowing what a book is about can make the reading/listening to experience better. It did in this case. After listening to the first hour or so I told my wife about the book. I said, it was basically the story you get by watching the movie The Social Network and it explained about the beginning of Facebook.

Turns out, The Social Network was the film version of Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires. Of course, had I just read the book's entire title, I would have known this.

Still, having seen the movie didn't ruin the reading experience. I knew how it ended but Mezrich's style of turning non-fiction into a story that sounds like well-written fiction is fantastic. He's good in the same vein as Laura Hillenbrand is good. And in this case, if you like the movie, try reading the book.

For me, the most interesting thing about the book was how much has happened since this book was published in 2009. Mezrich wows us by explaining how successful Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook were at that point in time. I wonder if any of the story's principle players (as well as the author...) could comprehend just how successful Facebook would become by 2015. I doubt they could. It's difficult to imagine an internet site being worth more than the most successful store chain in the world, Wal*Mart.

But it is.

If you've read other books by Ben Mezrich, I'm sure you'll enjoy this one. Facebook didn't just change the lives of its founders, but pretty much everyone else, too.

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