Book Review: Bad Blood

BAD BLOOD | John Carreyrou
05.21.2018 | Knopf Publishing Group
Rating: 5/5 stars

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Theranos founder and CEO Elizabeth Holmes started to make her name known in Silicon Valley at the young age of nineteen. While a student at Stanford she began to promote her idea of a way to revolutionize blood testing. Instead of tubes of blood being taken from a patient Elizabeth saw a future where with just a pinprick of blood her device could run hundreds of tests. Once she gathered enough backing, Elizabeth dropped out of Stanford and built her startup. Investors with big names started taking notice of Theranos and soon Elizabeth was declaring her company to be worth billions of dollars.

There’s just one problem with this picturesque story of technology: it doesn’t work. For years Holmes mislead investors, FDA officials, and her own employees into believing that what she was selling was true. John Carreyrou received a trip from a former Theranos employee who was willing to share the truth. Carreyrou would go on to find out the dark truth about Theranos and publish a story in The Wall Street Journal that would change the future for Elizabeth Holmes. This is the story of one of the biggest corporate fraud cases in America and the woman who played puppet master.

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This story is insane!! I know I’m late to the party, so you’ve probably already seen everyone hyping this book up. Well friends, they aren’t lying to you! 

John Carreyrou begins the book at the start of Theranos as just a dream Elizabeth was creating and moves chronologically through the company’s rise and fall. Each chapter gives the reader a look into the progression of the company and their technology. It also gives you a look into Elizabeth’s lies and the difference between the truth and what she was selling the world. It’s absolutely jaw dropping to read some of the stories that she would come up with. The tales she told the public never matched the reality of what was happening in the office.

So why did it take so long for the world to learn the truth? The answer is both simple and complicated. Elizabeth ran Theranos as a tight ship of closed doors. She kept teams apart so no employee was ever truly aware of what those outside of their department were working on. Imagine you’re in charge of building the software for a device and I’m in charge of building the hardware. We never meet. We never interact. How could we possibly be successful in building this device? On top of separation of employees there were countless non-disclosure agreements employees were forced to sign. If any employee ever voiced a concern they were either threatened or fired and then threatened.

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Meanwhile Elizabeth was masterfully orchestrating a story about all of the positives that Theranos was working towards. She would cite instances of the technology being deployed that never happened. No one questioned her because she was utterly convincing in her speeches and sales pitches. No one ever asked for hard evidence of the claims she was making.

This book is an absolute must read for anyone! You don’t have to be a techie to understand what is happening at Theranos. Carreyrou is one of the most compelling non-fiction writers I’ve ever read and has put together a fantastic in-depth look into Theranos and Elizabeth Holmes in BAD BLOOD. Be forewarned that this book will make you want to research everything you can get your hands on about Theranos. I’m currently listening to the podcast, The Dropout, and have plans to watch the HBO documentary, The Inventor, this weekend. Definitely add this book to your TBR!


This book is available to buy from: Amazon Book Depository

Disclosure: What Jess Reads is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. This in no way influences my opinion of the above book.

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