MacKenzie Bezos' scathing review of Brad Stone's "The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon," is a finely crafted love poem to her husband. Calling Stone's book "... a lopsided and misleading portrayal of the people and culture of Amazon," Mrs. Bezos' condemns the author for sloppy reporting and feigned insight into her husband's thought process. MacKenzie's love for Jeff is never explicitly stated but is ever present in her 922-word deconstruction of Stone's work. Not since a member of the audience shouted "She's in the attic," during Pia Zadora's stage performance as Anne Frank has a reviewer's opinion been made more clear.
Lauren Lyster applauds Mrs. Bezos for standing by her man of 20 years but defends Stone as a "well regarded journalist" who interviewed more than 300 people while writing the book. "She was not available for interviews, Jeff Bezos was not available for fact checking. What do you expect?"
The bigger question is why MacKenzie Bezos would bother. Stone's book chips away at the secrecy of Amazon and the privacy of Jeff Bezos but it doesn't really crack the facade. Amazon is a company built on the foundation of meticulous product distribution and execution that all but demands a detail-oriented taskmaster at its core. As a result of his ability to drive Amazon towards perfection, Jeff Bezos has built a massive fortune with which he's done things like recover Apollo 11 rockets and build a clock that ticks once a year. Exposing Mr. Bezos as a hard-driving eccentric as Stone does isn't exactly outing Deep Throat.
As Lyster says, MacKenzie Bezos largely succeeds only in drawing attention to the work and making Stone seem more credible. In a column at BloombergBusinessweek.com, Stone writes that he is "grateful to McKenzie and to every other thoughtful reviewer who shares their perspectives on my book and on this remarkable story. It’s the kind of dialogue that helps readers—and writers—and it’s a big reason why I got into the business."
Ouch. MacKenzie Bezos does a tremendous job pointing out flaws in Stone's work and establishes that "The Everything Store" would be better classified as "based on true events" than a non-fiction depiction of Amazon. It's likely Stone did soup things up a little bit to keep the narrative flowing. Of course in terms of perspective, being too close to a subject is just as bad, if not worse, than seeing it from afar.
The desire to sell books may skew judgement but love is the greatest mind-fog of all.
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