Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

Quick synopsis: A full investigation of the Theranos scam by the reporter who discovered the corruption.

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: How Elizabeth Holmes made very smart people look very dumb.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Elizabeth Holmes’ voice is probably fake! Henry Kissinger got pulled into this! Walgreen’s almost went under because they fell for it!

Fun Fact for History Nerds: Holmes’ scam of focusing on investors who did not know the medical science behind her work is both breathtakingly brazen and worrying since so many intelligent people fell for it. Anyone who looks at corporate crime will see all the hallmarks of a dangerous organization including, paranoia, institutional abuse, and cronies being hired for high positions.

My Take: This book is a perfect mixture of gossip, fact, drama, tragedy, and true crime. Carreyrou starts with a large amount of authority because he unearthed the Theranos scam and was essential to its downfall. Carreyrou doesn’t make himself a hero in the story, only a reporter doing his job when a lot of other people were not.

The amount of money Theranos made with no evidence of good faith results is absolutely astounding. Carreyrou does not overdue the big revelations either. He often states them as a matter of fact as he walks the reader through Theranos from Elizabeth Holmes’ upbringing to her (almost) complete downfall.

Along the way, you get to see how so many intelligent and respected men (yes, almost all men) are pulled into Holmes’ orbit and are so mesmerized by her that they lose all aspects of common sense and due diligence. Carreyrou does not try and paint them out to be fools. Instead he clearly explains how two strong business forces would allow them to miss the clear signs of fraud.

Carreyrou also does a great service to those who suffered the most from this tragedy. The employees and rivals of Theranos were put through hell (and sometimes worse) and get to have their say in this book. It is a must read.

Verdict: This is a must read for almost any audience. The sole issue with this book is what many contemporary books run into. Carreyrou wrote his book before the whole saga is over. The book ends before Holmes’ ongoing issues with the criminal justice system. However, the book does not suffer for it. Just google it all after finishing.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Harry Markopolos, No One Would Listen
  • David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon
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Bad Blood by John Carreyrou
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