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The Boy Kings: A Journey into the Heart of the Social Network Hardcover – June 26, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press (June 26, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451668252
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451668254
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #931,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“In her dark, hypnotic memoir of working at Facebook during its rising years, Katherine Losse tests Mark Zuckerberg’s dogmatic belief in transparency’s inherent good by removing the privacy controls on his own life. The result is a reluctantly Machiavellian guidebook to Silicon Valley — and a strong endorsement for maintaining a separate social life rather than a fully public “pics or it didn’t happen” one." --The Daily

"The Boy Kings needs a place on your summer reading list. Losse made me think twice about how I socialize with people, and how exactly that came to be--and it just might encourage you to hop offline and appreciate non-virtual reality." --Glamour

About the Author

Katherine Losse was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and holds a master’s degree in English from Johns Hopkins University. She lives in Marfa, Texas.

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Customer Reviews

It's well written and the story flows easy and naturally.
Erik_In_Vegas
This describes Oedipa Maas, the protagonist of Thomas Pynchon’s wonderful novel, “The Crying of Lot 49.” It also describes Kate Losse, Employee #51 of Facebook.
Jack Waters
That is the main criticism I have for the book - you don't learn much that you didn't already know or could guess at.
Aphasia17

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Aphasia17 on July 9, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
The media attempted to show this book as a tell-all about the culture of working for Facebook (which it does, to an extent) and seeing what really drives Mark Zuckerberg and makes him tick (which it doesn't). First and foremost, this book is about the adventures of Kate Losse and her journey up the ladder of Facebook, a story made all the more remarkable considering the male-dominated culture she worked in.

Losse takes us on a ride that begins with a Johns Hopkins graduate joining Facebook's customer-support team, through to her promotion to the Internationalization team, and shooting all the way up to being Zuckerberg's official ghostwriter. The story goes back and forth between reading like a description of her work culture and reading like a lengthy diary entry, as she goes from stories of AIM chats (using AIM at work was a requirement) and long hours into the night (as the engineers were often required when writing algorithms) to parties in Las Vegas and annual trips to the Coachella music festival.

Although the book is extremely well written, it is not particularly memorable and at times Losse's thoughts, although thought-provoking, become repetitive as she constantly questions whether Facebook is really bringing people together or turning the world into one big virtual reality. If you've seen the movie "The Social Network", then very little of the information presented here - about Facebook's work culture as well as Zuckerberg himself - will come as a surprise. That is the main criticism I have for the book - you don't learn much that you didn't already know or could guess at. The culture is very much like a frat house, with the guys often playing games like chess and beer-pong and sometimes sending erotic messages (usually in fun, but not always) to the female workers.
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Helene Ossipov on July 2, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This is a thoughtful book about technology, our fetishization of it, and what that can mean in the long run. Clearly written by a person well-grounded in the humanities, this book explores the explosive growth of Facebook with its need for data and more data. The engineers are given free rein to come up with applications, such as photo and video, but never question why they are doing it or what the moral or ethical implications of it are. Users gleefully give over their private data to a company, they live their lives online and in public, but think little of it. Ms. Losse gives an example early on: at a party, she posed covered in a bearskin, doubled over with laughter as Mr. Zuckerberg points to her. The photo is posted on Facebook and the engineers are delighted that they can post the photo, since the app had just been developed; it's the technical achievement that is important, not what the photo is; it could have been a photo of a can of soup for all it mattered. But Ms. Losse considers how the photo could be (mis)interpreted by someone who doesn't know the context. This is not a tell-all; anyone looking for dirt won't find it here. She is grateful for the oppportunities she has had at the company and the financial security it has given her, but she begins to question the direction in which the company is going. The author wants us to consider that just because something can be done does not mean that it should be done. A very worthwhile read.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Steamchef on March 31, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I can't join those who say this wook is exceptionally well written. It's OK, but it needed a good editor, and then it needed a better proofreader before it went to press.

It was a fairly interesting and quick read, however. It did bog down in more than one place, but Katherine Losse does a good job of conveying the atmosphere of institutionalized sexism (and tokenism) that characterizes tech startups.

At the same time, it's never a good sign when the author of a memoir becomes less likable to the reader as the book goes on.

Early in the book, there are many irritating references to the lofty socioeconomic status that Losse came to regard as her due, having been admitted to graduate study in English at the "prestigious" Johns Hopkins University. And even though she spent time nominally living in Baltimore, or discerning its outlines from the hothouse atmosphere of Hopkins, she appears to have learned almost nothing about the actual city, or at least not anything that isn't mediated by the HBO series "The Wire."

I finally lost respect for the author when she wrote about blowing off Mark Zuckerberg's assignment to write a series of blog posts in his voice, all because she didn't share his vision. As Zuckerberg's hired ghostwriter, Losse didn't have to share his vision in order to write in his voice. She doesn't report any consequences for that very unprofessional behavior. If there truly were none, then it seems clear that Losse's "promotion" to the fringes of Zuckerberg's inner circle was nothing but a kick upstairs for an early employee who was going to be trouble one way or another. And I say this as no fan of Zuckerberg, or Facebook.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert McPhee on April 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover
"Boy Kings" is a disturbing book about the early years of Facebook, the social network giant. Author Katherine Losse was employee number 51 at the company and only the second woman to start working there. She describes the prurient fraternity house atmosphere of the place, her oddball co-workers and their self-styled hacker ethos, and the breakneck pace in which everybody worked and played.

Some of this book is devoted to musing about social networking and whether on balance it is alienating or really does make connections between people. The author, as she spent more time at Facebook, became more and more disillusioned with the company's utopian mission to make information more available. She frets about loss of privacy. She frets about whether Facebook prevents what she terms "authentic connections."

To me what was most interesting (and disturbing) about the book were the portraits of her co-workers, including Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. We learn that Zuckerberg occasionally ordered a "lock down" whereby workers had to stay in the office for many hours at a time (this is against the law and I wondered why Losse didn't remark on it in her book). He gave incentives to workers to live nearby the Facebook office so that they could always be on call. Altogether, this book makes Facebook seem more like a cult than a company. On Zuckerberg's birthday, the women employees were required to wear T-shirts with his face on them; the men to wear his trademark sandals. Details like this kept me interested in this book.

Facebook put author Katherine Losse through the ringer, but at least she was rewarded in the end when she cashed in her stock options.
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