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Silicon Valley Magic - minus Merlin
on 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.