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3.7 out of 5 stars33
3.7 out of 5 stars
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I've seen the film The Social Network which is a masterly piece of cinematic art and storytelling. So I was interested to read the book on which it is based, and hoped to gain a deeper understanding of the situations. However, the book is too scant to do that, and I'm not surprised that one of the main participants in the founding of Facebook isn't willing to be interviewed; he's busy.

If it wasn't for the female angle there wouldn't be much of a story; so two guys fell out over rights to a new company. But the college atmosphere where young men drool over girls seems pressure cooker-like and the girls, nicely, are shown as not being themselves under any pressure. I don't know how true this is. The female company theme continues to follow the two men as they go to California and back to the east coast, without any woman playing a major part in the new company. I also liked the sense of the underdog, the asocial student, making it big when the influential, wealthy, connected students did not. Partly this shows up America's long lionising of the fit and brave, when the smart and stealthy actually end up with the money.

The writing of the story seems rushed, with too many scenes containing 'he may have thought' or 'perhaps he did' instead of giving us facts. The story is mainly coming from one interviewee's point of view. There's nothing taxing in the read, no better understanding of the creation of a website or why, when one creator had given away inventions rather than sell them in the past, he now went for broke.

Certainly I found it interesting to compare the screenplay with the book, see the rearrangement of facts and dates, which gives me a better understanding of the work of the film creators. As all the events occurred over a short period, and the film had the benefit of including two lawsuits to demonstrate in flashback how the story had unfolded, we can see the kaleidoscope of film creativity.
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VINE VOICEon 4 January 2011
Ben Mezrich prefaces his story of the rise and rise and rise of Facebook with a cautionary note the reader will do well to heed. "I recreated the scenes in the book based on the information I discovered ... and my best judgement ..."

Recreation is a subjective business. There are frequent warning signs: "We can envisage ...", "It is easy to picture ...", and so on. The author's sources for chronicling the Facebook phenomenon from Harvard dorm to international phenomenon are not detailed, though the particular acknowledgment for Eduardo Saverin, one half of the founding partnership, should be weighed against the admission that Mark Zuckerberg, the genius other half, consistently refused to co-operate. One can only trust that Mezrich's understanding of the twin worlds of programming and the Silicon Valley jungle is more reliable than his acquaintance with rowing - the Harvard eight at Henley in 2004 would not have been sculling.

With those reservations, The Accidental Billionaires can be recommended as a racy read. There are no heroes, merely a cast of greedy characters assiduously and deviously cutting each other's throats.
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on 22 July 2012
This is one of the most amazing books I ever read. So inspiring. The perfect environment for a XXI century revolution. As an IT professional, I am always wondering what is coming next, MSN, Google, Napster, Skype, Facebook it is all part of the History and we all are being part of it, amazingly. Congratulations to the Author, who wrote it very well and could pass to us what it was like. Congratulations to the characters, Eduardo, Sean and Mark, you are all History.
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on 22 February 2011
Proof, if ever you needed it, that Aaron Sorkin is a genius. How he turned this dog of a book into something as entertaining and pitch-perfect as The Social Network is a mystery on par with the building of Stonehenge, the Marie Celeste or Justin Beiber. Combined.

Aside from the questionable approach where we get the inner thoughts of all the protagonists, the prose is so elementary and unengaging that it left me wondering if no one really read over properly before it went to print, least of all the author. Repetition of ideas and recaps rob the narrative thread of any pace it may have been building. For example, if we're told once that the Winklevoss twins were six five, we're told a thousand times. Anyone forgotten that Zuckerberg wears flip-flops or has a mop of curly hair in the last five pages? Don't worry, we'll go over that again soon.

It gets two stars rather than one because it at least doesn't try too hard to portray goodies and baddies but I honestly hope that a better account of the creation of Facebook comes along soon to dislodge this from its undeserving perch.
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on 21 August 2009
Ban Mezrich has written an enjoyable and easy to read account of how Facebook was started by an IT geek Mark Zuckerburg who was a student at Harvard.

The book chronicles the early growth and how the web site grows from being just for Harvard students through its expansion to having several million users.

Most of the book concentrates on the battles that Mark has with one of his co founders Eduardo Saverin, and a pair of other students who asked Mark to work on their web site who end up as Olympic rowers.

The main problem with the book is that Mark Zuckerburg declined to speak to the author about the book. So most of the material is going to have come from the people who are suing or who have sued Mark for what happened after the web site become ultra successful. There are large gaps after Mark leaves Harvard to live in California leaving his fellow co founder in Boston and then New York. The detailed narrative stops in 2005. The author acknowledges that he could not have written the book without Eduardo's help and when the main contributing source is a bitter as Eduardo is after his shareholding is diluted and he is shut out of the business, you have to be slightly sceptical.

The book ignores most of the reasons why Facebook became so successful and all of its recent history. There are a brief couple of pages on the outcome of some of the disputes but to me that's not really enough to give them justice.

The book is written in the same racy style as all of Ben Mezrich's former books, most of which are about gambling or finance. The author has admitted in the introduction that he has adapted some of the situations to make them more readable.

If you are looking for a serious financial history of Facebook, this probably won't be for you. If you are looking something less serious, more exciting and easy to read, this is probably for you
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on 12 July 2010
Interesting read, if only because we all know facebook.
Not as good as his other books which I highly recommend. To me the prose of this book was just not Mezrich, but perhaps that is because his reference methods had to be different for this?
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on 19 October 2010
Ben Mezrich's trade is writing about inaccessible subjects with such as easy reading style that his books become page turners. This one covers the founding of facebook, right from its conception in a Harvard dorm and the debate surrounding whether or not Mark Zuckerburg stole the idea from some classmates.

The book is not as good as some of Mezrich's others mainly because Mark Zuckerburg refused to contribute to the book. In 'Rigged', for example, or 'Bringing Down The House' you get far more of a sense of forbidden information because Mezrich is collaborating with a real insider. I'd recommend those books as better entertainment and they also have a better quality of information behind them, but if you're specifically interested in facebook then this book will still serve you well and give a good background overview - but take it with a little pinch of salt, you never really know what's true here and what's just good storytelling.
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on 25 April 2010
This was an inspiring book!
I found it a bit uninteresting at the beginning, at least for people that doesn't know what's coming next, but it surprised me after a few pages!
Brilliant and I do understand why they're making a film of it! :)
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on 15 April 2012
As you open your Facebook page and check your news feed and see the changes your friends have made to their photos and status. Does anyone ever thing about the code that is written into that program, the process that formed this site. After reading this book I now do. The pure technicality of getting the news feed to work drawing information from all your friends individual pages. Having watched the film The Social Network I wondered about reading this book. Would it engage me, but I can say it certainly did. Although the book and film are very similar there are some contrasting factors. Sean Parker who was portrayed to have taken illegal substances in the film in the book is portrayed as being 'cleaner than the pope.' Due to a mix of allergies and asthma the book quotes the only drugs he took as being an inhaler and epi pen. The book also puts into contrast the huge work ethic that Zuckerberg had to get Facebook launched. Not just a computer geek but a ruthless CEO of a huge company who would have done anything to keep Facebook achieving including removing Sean Parker after that fateful party. It also shows that the time spent in Silicon Valley was not just the party time shown in the film in fact. It was in fact, the time when most of the code was written for Facebook. The book also names several other websites that the computer geek amongst us may like to research, some successful, some not so.

This book is well written and fast paced and portrays the main character in the Facebook empire in a rounded fashion. Zuckerberg being described as a computer programmer with a sharp wit and sense of humour who was extremely driven.

The book and film are both well worth a look. Both have left me however with two unanswered questions:

Sean Parker good guy or bad?


Do the Winklevoss twins have Facebook?
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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2011
As someone who hasn't seen the film The Social Network [2010] I was interested to get a background to Facebook and the story of where it came from. Ben Mezrich has managed to turn what could have been a very ordinary tale into one of deception and betrayal. Having read this on Kindle, I was generally impressed however the book could do with some updating and significantly more detail on recently developments. Interesting but lacking updating and certainly no literary masterpiece.
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