For all the glittering Hollywood names attached to blockbuster hit The Social Network, its millions of fans are absorbing a story first told by one man: author Ben Mezrich.
Mezrich's best-selling tome about Facebook, The Accidental Billionaires, casts the story of the über-popular site from founder Mark Zuckerberg's lady-hating, envy-driven origins at Harvard to the lawsuit that tore apart his friendship with Miami native and Facebook cofounder Eduardo Saverin.
There's only one question: Is any of it true?
Zuckerberg wouldn't speak to Mezrich (Saverin was his main source), and the author freely admits in his intro that some "settings and descriptions have been changed or imagined," including scores of scenes starring Zuckerberg himself.
Reviewers have torn Mezrich to shreds over his blend of reporting and semifiction ("wild guessing seems... to have been [his] primary working method," the New York Times seethed). But Mezrich says his methods are legit. "I understand my style is very controversial to a lot of old-world journalists," he explains. "But I think it's a very valid form of nonfiction. I interview everyone I can, read reams of documents, and then I write my book like a thriller."
Among his harshest critics is David Kirkpatrick, author of competing book The Facebook Effect. Kirkpatrick, who had full access to Zuckerberg, slams Mezrich's unflattering take on the founder.
Who's right? You can decide for yourself: Both Kirkpatrick and Mezrich will speak at the book fair. (And security might have to keep them apart in the hallways.)
Sun., Nov. 21, 3 p.m., 2010