BOOK REVIEW: Bad Blood by John Carreyrou

I like to imagine this book as a black and white old Hollywood film. It has all of the right elements: mystery, millions of dollars, fraud, deception, a whip-smart and beautiful leading lady, and a journalist who won’t give up his investigation at any cost.

Silicon Valley – a name synonymous with invention and success, the home of Facebook and Apple, and so many other start-ups is almost impossible to keep track. It’s the Mecca of tech companies. It’s also the site of one of the greatest corporate scandals of our time (not to be dramatic or anything).

In this investigative reporting masterpiece, John Carreyrou of the Wall Street Journal digs into the mystery of Theranos – a tech company started by a teenage Stanford drop out that promised to revolutionize blood testing and eliminate the use of needles. Elizabeth Holmes, the company’s founder, said she could test for a wide range of illnesses and deficiencies with nothing more than a tiny finger-tip pricking machine that could be easily stored in people’s homes or used anywhere from drugstores to war zones.

Holmes raised millions – even billions – in capital and was named one of America’s youngest and richest self-made female entrepreneurs. And then it came crashing down.


"This is what happens when you work to change things," Holmes said. "First they think you're crazy, then they fight you, then you change the world."

Through hundreds of painstaking interviews and numerous law suit threats, Carreyrou managed to get to the bottom of the Theranos façade and discover that the company, and its enigmatic leader, were not what they seemed.

Written in a gripping, fast-paced journalistic style, Bad Blood reads like some wild combination of thriller and true crime, and is filled with the compelling stories of past employees and former business rivals who witnessed the fall of the company.

The last section of the book – and in my opinion the most compelling – Carreyrou inserts himself into the story and walks us through the process he had to go through to expose the Theranos scandal. A brilliant writer and investigator, Carreyrou makes it clear why journalists are such a crucial part of American society and the extremes they have to go to in order to tell the truth.

This book will have you turning pages at lightning speed, desperate to find out what happens next. You’ll become absorbed in Elizabeth’s charms, only to be reminded that she is not the super-genius inventor she claims to be.

If you’ve got time over the Thanksgiving weekend, I highly recommend curling up with a copy of Bad Blood and letting yourself get wrapped up in the almost unbelievable true story of a tech company gone bad.