Calculated or clueless? Savant or shark? The premiere of HBO’s “The Inventor” earlier this month has sparked new debate over disgraced entrepreneur Elizabeth Holmes and just how much she knew about the demise of her healthcare technology company, Theranos.
The documentary, which tracks Holmes’ meteoric rise through Silicon Valley and her subsequent fall from grace when her startup is revealed to have defrauded investors with false claims and earnings, has also sparked renewed interest in the under-pinnings of the tech industry, where new ideas and young leaders are put up on a pedestal, only to be vilified when things go wrong. Are we all cynics living in a dog eat dog world? Or have the nefarious actions of others caused us to turn a blind eye to things that matter?
From a national bestseller that explores the shocking collapse of Theranos, to a real-life wolf of Wall Street, we’ve rounded up three books that track tales of white-collar crime on a global scale, while pushing forth questions of accountability, truth and justice.
1. “Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup”
Named one of the best books of 2018 by critics from NPR, the New York Times, the Washington Post and others, “Bad Blood” is the definitive look inside the collapse of Theranos. Written by Wall Street Journal reporter John Carreyrou, the journalist who first questioned the company’s findings and claims, “Bad Blood” traces Carreyrou’s efforts to uncover the truth behind the multibillion dollar startup, and provides his thoughts into why — and how — Holmes got caught up in the melee.
With rave reviews from critics and readers alike (including a quote from Bill Gates who calls the story “even crazier than I expected” and says he found himself “unable to put it down”), “Bad Blood” is part-detective story and part-expose into the dark and desperate world of Silicon Valley, where people will do or say anything to prove the worth of their companies – and themselves.
Though the HBO documentary was supported by its own interviews and research, a film version of “Bad Blood” is currently in development, with Jennifer Lawrence set to star as Homes, and “Vice” director, Adam McKay pegged to direct. Purchase: “Bad Blood,” $16.77 on Amazon.com.
2. “Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World”
Released to critical acclaim last fall, “Billion Dollar Whale” tracks the story of Malaysian businessman, Jho Low, whose unassuming appearance and mild-mannered demeanor helped him swindle more than $5 billion from an investment fund, pulling off one of the biggest financial heists in Wall Street history.
Low used the money to ascend the social ladder, throwing lavish parties at his luxury mansions and on his yacht that attracted some of Hollywood and fashion’s biggest stars. Low even put his money behind Hollywood films like “The Wolf of Wall Street,” helping to finance part of the film’s large production budget.
Named a Best Book of 2018 by Fortune, this New York Times bestseller exposes Low as a “modern Gatsby,” who went from middling success at business school to become a very real threat to the global financial system. Low went on the run when investigators came looking for him last year. He’s currently considered an international fugitive and while he has left Malaysia, authorities believe he is still in hiding somewhere in Asia. Purchase: “Billion Dollar Whale,” $18.30 on Amazon.com.
3. “Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling: Master the Art of Persuasion, Influence, and Success”
The real-life “Wolf of Wall Street” sets out to teach the art of deal-making and negotiation, in this how-to guide. Author Jordan Belfort, the inspiration for Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Martin Scorsese’s movie “The Wolf of Wall Street,” admits that his methods and motives in life have been unorthodox, but he says that’s exactly why he’s been about to earn a reputation as a “sales-closing, money-earning rock star.”
While his best-selling memoir focused on his rise to riches and his subsequent crash, both professionally and personally, Belfort casts this release as a playbook for readers to use to foster relationships, secure opportunities and build wealth. Above all, it reveals how anyone can work their way to the top, with just a little bit of self-confidence, and perhaps a touch of bravado too. Writes Belfort: “I’m one of those natural born salesmen who can sell ice to an Eskimo, oil to an Arab, pork to a rabbi, or anything else you can think of.” Purchase: “Way of the Wolf,” $11.59 on Amazon.com.
Note: You can stream “The Inventor” for free right now with a 7-day free trial to HBO via Amazon. Click here for details and to get started. The books above are also all available for free on audiobook with a 30-day free trial to Audible.
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