In Bad Blood, John Carreyrou charts the rise and fall of Theranos, a Silicon Valley start-up that achieved rock star status, and billions in valuation due, in no small part, to its founder, the young, charismatic and photogenic Elizabeth Holmes. The uncritical, deeply unserious press turned her into a feminist superstar because, well, she fit a preferred narrative.
John Carrerou, an actual journalist with the Wall Street Journal, smelled a rat and exposed a giant con. This book reads like a thriller. It’s tempting to try and psychoanalyze Holmes but in the end she’s just another amoral grifter. I have a feeling that Holmes will make a comeback. Sociopaths have a way of becoming recurring characters in postmodern culture.
What is left to say about Winston Churchill? It turns out, British historian Andrew Roberts has plenty to add to the Churchill legend. The indispensable man of the 20th century had some serious faults. He was thirsty for fame, (unlike Elizabeth Holmes, Churchill achieved fame through a lifetime of accomplishments) he was a a narcissist, and he believed in the now unfashionable benefits of Empire.
All good screenwriters know that the best characters are flawed. Overcoming those flaws is why we these characters fascinate us. Churchill was brilliantly multifaceted. But he understood the nature of evil and acted to rescue Western Civilization from its death grip.
He also had another huge fault:
“When [Martin] Gilberts, who was Jewish, interviewed Churchill’s colleague General Sir Louis Spears, he was intrigued by his statement ‘Even Winston had a fault.’ He leaned forward, eager to discover his hero’s Achilles heel, only to hear: ‘He was too fond of Jews.’ ”