Jeff Bezos Wife Blasts The Author Of Her Husband’s Autobiography In An Amazon Review
Brad Stone’s autobiography on Jeff Bezos, “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of the Amazon,” has garnered mostly positive reviews from readers, but received one reviewer whose opinion probably matters most—Jeff Bezos’ wife, Mackenzie.
In a nearly 1,000 review titled, “I wanted to like this book,” she politely tore the autobiography to shreds.
She starts off by commending the book for its good start, and then swiftly tearing it down by saying, despite the interesting beginning, “it’s not true.” And when it comes to autobiographies, it can be intensely discrediting to provide your audience with inaccurate information.
She goes on to say, “If this were an isolated example, it might not matter, but it’s not. Everywhere I can fact check from personal knowledge, I find way too many inaccuracies, and unfortunately that casts doubt over every episode in the book.”
Two major points she made was that Stone portrayed Bezos one way by interviewing people who could accurately describe moments of tension, but veered away from those who could vouch positively for Amazon’s work culture, or finding narrative ways to dismiss the positive comments as unimportant.
My favorite part of Mackenzie’s disarming review is her caution to readers to understand that Amazon’s founder was never actually interviewed for the book; a fact some people might fail to remember, due to the personal tone of narrative that the writer uses. She writes:
In light of the focus in many of the reviews here and elsewhere on what the book “reveals” about Jeff’s motives, I will also point out that the passage about what was on his mind when he decided to start Amazon is far from the only place where the book passes off speculation about his thoughts and intentions as fact. “Bezos felt…” “Bezos believed….” “Bezos wanted….” “Bezos fixated…” “Bezos worried….” “Bezos was frustrated…” “Bezos was consumed…” “In the circuitry of Bezos’s brain, something flipped…” When reading phrases like these, which are used in the book routinely, readers should remember that Jeff was never interviewed for this book, and should also take note of how seldom these guesses about his feelings and motives are marked with a footnote indicating there is any other source to substantiate them.”
This is the third review posted by Mackenzie, who gave two five-star reviews to Ethan Canin’s Carry Me Across the Water, and Carole Glickfeld’s Swimming Toward the Ocean.
It doesn’t take a genius to see that Mackenzie is a pretty good writer. Author Toni Morrison taught her creative writing at Princeton University and thought highly of her abilities, calling her “one of the best” students.
And though some have criticized her review for being “biased,” based on Amazon’s review system, 2,550 out of 2,845 (current numbers) have found her review “helpful.”
Rick Dalzell, Amazon’s former chief information officer, who was one of many interviewed for the book, also provided a review, although his three-star critique was a bit more modest. “Brad Stone did a lot of research and the result is a glimpse into the history of one of the world’s most exciting companies,” he wrote, but added, “lots of stories are missing or just inaccurate. Brad painted a one-dimensional picture of Jeff as a ruthless capitalist.” Dalzell also clarified that a quote he provided regarding Bezos’ laugh was highly inaccurate
There’s no saying whether the scathing review will hurt or help Stone’s book. The fact is, Mackenzie’s review may have just brought more attention to it. As the saying goes, any press is good press.