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Book Review: The Accidental Billionaires

December 1, 2009

The Accidental Billionaires:
The Founding of Facebook, a Tale
of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal

Reviewed by Elizabeth Willse for the Star-Ledger. 11/29/09
Ben Mezrich
Doubleday, 260 pp., $25

Ben Mezrich is fun to read. Given a few key ingredients — tech-savvy misfits, an audacious scheme, success, bruised egos and betrayal — he shines.

Here, the author of 2002’s blackjack caper “Bringing Down the House” focuses on Mark Zuckerberg and Eduardo Savarin, two brainy Harvard kids who combine the skills of a hacker genius and a driven young businessman to launch a scheme that will make it easier to talk to girls.

Building the pace across a series of vignettes, Mezrich loops in the other players in the story of what would become Facebook. The wealthy twin golden boys of the crew team are sure Savarin stole their idea.

Playboy computer renegade Sean Parker launches Zuckerberg and Savarin’s tiny business into the financial stratosphere. Big Silicon Valley spenders swoop down on Zuckerberg and Savarin’s creation, at the end of a thrill ride of spiraling big ideas that transformed two shy campus unknowns into major players on the cutting edge of social media technology.

Mezrich stays close to the heart of his characters, narrating from each of their perspectives with a believable tight focus. Optimistic, trusting entrepreneur Savarin, gawky Zuckerberg, charismatic dynamo Sean Parker. The assembled band of misfits has heart, as well as creativity and drive. Maybe you never thought you wanted to read a book about Facebook. Pick this up, anyway. In Mezrich’s hands, the story becomes a great read.

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