Reviews for Burn Book

by Kara Swisher

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

An essential explanation of how tech has changed the world, from a truth-teller who has witnessed it at close range. Years ago, someone interviewing Swisher for an internship told her she was too confident. Her reply: “I’m not too confident, I’m fantastic. Or I will be.” It could be annoying, but most readers will agree with her. Swisher, who began as a journalist covering the rise of the internet and has since become a thought leader via conferences, publications, podcasts, and an opinion column in the New York Times, offers an account of her career that is fun to read, enlightening, and sometimes frightening. She’s been ahead of her time since the 1990s, when she supported a colleague in lodging a then-unheard-of sexual harassment complaint against talk show host John McLaughlin, and she has a clear talent for “scenario building, which is a fancy way of saying I’m a good guesser.” This is evident in her narration of the rise and fall of companies from AOL to Uber and the careers of “man-boys” like Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and many more. With regard to social media, Swisher writes that “engagement equals enragement,” and she predicted the Jan. 6 insurrection; in fact, she posed it as a hypothetical to see if Twitter would kick Trump off the platform. The tech world, she writes, is a “mirrortocracy, full of people who like their own reflection so much that they only saw value in those that looked the same,” people who “ignored issues of safety not because they were necessarily awful, but because they had never felt unsafe a day in their lives.” Though the book lives up to its title with scathing portraits of jerks and gross excesses, one of the most memorable aspects is Swisher’s deep respect for Steve Jobs, whom she laments as one of a kind. Swisher for president. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.