MixedThe New York Times Book ReviewOn one of the first pages Cain writes, \'I didn’t fact-check the stories people told me about themselves, but included only those I believed to be true.\' After that, it’s difficult to know how seriously to take this book as a document of scholarship or reportage ... But as a package to be sold, Bittersweet has it all: a catchy word, a culture that doesn’t appreciate the power of that word and a call to action for individuals and businesses who can better meet their goals by embracing the word ... Perhaps this is why I found the premise of Bittersweet, and most of the anecdotes and evidence in the book, obvious. If you’ve attended religious worship or even a yoga class or have spent any time in the last two years reflecting on the lessons the pandemic has forced upon us, you might feel the same ... you’d have to be pretty disengaged from modern discourse to have no exposure to the idea that unexpressed and unexamined sadness can poison mental health ... But a big feature of this book is that it seems disconnected from the contemporary realities of our culture ... Cain completely misses the opportunity to connect the lessons of her research to this global catastrophe...Even as she makes these revelations, she bypasses the opportunity to connect the dots of her own experiences, her research and the losses her family suffered with the wreckage wrought by Covid. Cain is entitled to process her own grief privately, but she has chosen to write a book filled with personal anecdotes and family stories. It suffers as a result of her selective restraint ... There are other examples that make Cain seem out of touch...As a general matter, Cain’s heavy reliance on anecdotes and studies drawn from Ivy League (plus Stanford!) sources on the Ted Talk circuit (I never realized how much those Venn diagram circles overlapped until I read this book) renders a very narrow perspective, since the life experience and opinions of the viral elite is largely limited to those of extreme privilege ... Cain writes most poignantly (though, ironically, quite stoically) of her own pivotal moments — including, at the end of the book, the process of letting the demise of her legal career give way to her dream of becoming a writer, and of listening to sad music as a balm for the pain of a Covid goodbye said over the phone to a dying parent. Some sweetness to help transcend the bitter.
Eliot Brown and Maureen Farrell
RaveThe New York Times Book Review... a juicy guided tour through the highly leveraged, not-quite-rags-to-billion-dollar-parachute saga of WeWork and its co-founder Adam Neumann ... separates itself from Billion Dollar Loser by quickly passing over Neumann’s upbringing and experiences on kibbutzim and in the Israeli military, as well as the origins and earliest days of WeWork...Instead, the book saves its firepower for the cataclysmic combination of Neumann’s gift for salesmanship, addiction to fund-raising and focus on his personal wealth ... Brown and Farrell show an agility for explaining key business dynamics that are crucial both to understanding specific moments in WeWork’s trajectory, and also to grasping the role of public and private investors in the company’s successes and failures. They do so without slowing down the narrative or overdoing it such that readers well versed in business might find it boring or pedantic ... a book that calls for keeping a pen handy so you can write in the margins, giving the Greek chorus in your head a place to pop off ... also very funny, with Brown and Farrell employing wry juxtaposition and understatement to enjoyable effect ... The narrative is written straight through, with Brown and Farrell rarely breaking in to attribute their reporting to specific sources. Instead, that information is packed into extensive notes at the end of the book. It may make the nearly 400 pages brisker to read for some, but I was frequently toggling back and forth to try to surmise how the authors knew what they were telling me .... coming out months after other storytellers have framed the WeWork saga with their own focuses and flourishes. But Brown and Farrell’s book may be the most perfectly timed. As much of the white-collar work force enjoys (or tolerates) its final weeks of working from home, we (I think I’m allowed to use \'we\' in this context without paying anyone) are preparing to re-engage with our crumbs-in-the-keyboard cubicle culture.