The vast majority of the 45 Amazon.com customers who have reviewed Bloomberg Businessweek writer Brad Stone's new book, The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon, gave it five stars. Lone among them, however, is a single star left by a reviewer who dismisses the book's alleged plethora of factual inaccuracies.
That reviewer also happens to be MacKenzie Bezos, wife of Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. She starts by saying, "I wanted to like this book."
In her review, the authenticity of which Amazon confirmed to Fast Company on Monday afternoon, Bezos targets Stone's "lopsided and misleading portrait of the people and culture at Amazon":
An author writing about any large organization will encounter people who recall moments of tension out of tens of thousands of hours of meetings and characterize them in their own way, and including those is legitimate. But...when the author does include people whose accounts of a supportive and inspiring culture contradict his thesis, he refers to them dismissively throughout the book as robots.
In her review, Bezos also references two Amazon associates: Jonathan Leblang, the director of Amazon's R&D outfit Lab126; and Rich Dalzell, the company's former chief information officer for a decade until his retirement in 2007. Leblang and Dalzell, who gave the book four and three stars, respectively, expressed similar sentiments about the book's accuracy.
"Brad painted a one-dimensional picture of Jeff as a ruthless capitalist. He completely missed his warmth, his humor, and his empathy--all qualities abundantly present in the man," Dalzell writes. In Fast Company's September cover story on Bezos, associate editor J.J. McCorvey painted a different picture of the "cagey, friendly" man with the "thunderous laugh" behind Amazon.
Bezos, who is notorious for the limited access he grants to members of the media, was not interviewed for The Everything Store.
[Image: Flickr user Ben K Adams]