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At the height of the start-up boom, journalist Corey Pein set out for Silicon Valley with little more than a smartphone and his wits. His goal: to learn how such an overhyped industry could possibly sustain itself as long as it has. Determined to cut through the clichés of big tech - the relentless optimism, the mandatory enthusiasm, and the earnest, incessant repetition of vacuous buzzwords - Pein decided that he would need to take an approach as unorthodox as the companies he would soon be covering. To truly understand the delirious reality of a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, he knew, he would have to inhabit that perspective - he would have to become an entrepreneur.
Thus he begins his journey - skulking through gimmicky tech conferences, pitching his over-the-top business ideas to investors, and interviewing a cast of outrageous characters: cyborgs and con artists, Teamsters and transhumanists, jittery hackers and naive upstart programmers whose entire lives are managed by their employers - who work endlessly and obediently, never thinking to question their place in the system.
In showing us this frantic world, Pein challenges the positive, feel-good self-image that the tech tycoons have crafted - as nerdy and benevolent creators of wealth and opportunity - revealing their self-justifying views and their insidious visions for the future. Indeed, as Pein shows, Silicon Valley is awash in disreputable ideas: Google executive and futurist Raymond Kurzweil has a side business peddling dietary supplements and has for years pushed the outlandish notion that human beings are destined to merge with computers and live forever in some kind of digital cosmic hive mind. Peter Thiel, the billionaire venture capitalist affiliated with PayPal and Facebook, is now an important advisor to President Trump and has subsidized a prolific blogger known by the pen name Mencius Moldbug who writes approvingly of ideas like eugenics and dictatorship. And Moldbug is not alone. There is, in fact, a small but influential - and growing - group of techies with similarly absurd and extremist beliefs who call themselves the "neoreactionary" vanguard of a "Dark Enlightenment."
Vivid and incisive, Live Work Work Work Die is a troubling portrait of a self-obsessed industry bent on imposing its disturbing visions on the rest of us.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By James on 04-26-18
The bucket of cold water Silicon Valley needs
Would you listen to Live Work Work Work Die again? Why?
Maybe, but it's pretty grim.
What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?
I like the travelogue structure of the book. Also, Pine's humor helps things from getting too depressing.
Which scene was your favorite?
I liked the description of his first AirBnB as his first real introduction to the way life is in this sector of the economy.
What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?
Peter Thiel is even creepier than I thought. Like way more sinister.
Any additional comments?
I loved the first three chapters, but later the structure sort of broke down and the narrative lost its flow. The mini biographies came to overpower the nice travelogue structure of the first part. Even so, the book more than held my attention.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Flink on 05-18-18
A strong start that peters out
I found this book after listening to an extract of the Guardian newspapers Long Reads. Here was someone who went to Silicon Valley and gave it a real go... at least that's how it initially came across. The author's time subletting was amusing and eye opening. Frankly, all the first- hand accounts were pretty interesting at first. But, it quickly becomes apparent that the author wasn't actually trying to create a startup. instead he was just slumming it in order to write this book with a bit more credibility, I guess? He seemed to be there just to mock entrepreneurs. Not everyone is a crook, or charlatan! And, after a while even the thinly-veiled attempt at business is dropped in favour of over-long, boring stretches of things the author has researched about the business world and business history. That wouldn't be a bad thing necessarily, in better hands. But, this is dry stuff here and not what was initially promised, in my opinion.
By Louis-S on 04-30-18
Tech fantasy exposed as a scam
A very timely book in view of the recent revelations about Facebook.
If you enjoy the HBO comedy Silicon Valley this book will really click.
I really enjoyed.