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Burn Book

Hardcover / ISBN-13: 9780349442129

Price: £25

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From award-winning journalist Kara Swisher comes a witty, scathing, but fair accounting of the tech industry and its founders who wanted to change the world but broke it instead.

While tech titans bragged they would ‘move fast and break things’, Kara Swisher was moving faster and breaking news. Covering the explosion of the digital sector in the early 1990s, she developed a long track record of digging up and reporting the truth of this new world order. Her consistent scoops drove one CEO to accuse her of “listening in the heating ducts” and for Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg to once say: ‘It is a constant joke in the Valley when people write memos for them to say, “I hope Kara never sees this.”‘

Burn Book is part memoir, part history and, most of all, a necessary recounting of tech’s most powerful players. This is the inside story we’ve all been waiting for of modern Silicon Valley and the biggest boom in wealth creation in the history of the world.

While still in college, Swisher got her start at The Washington Post, where she became one of the few people in journalism interested in the emerging field of tech. She was among the first to recognize the potential of the internet, accurately predicting that ‘everything that could be digitized, would be digitized.’ She went on to work for The Wall Story Journal, joining with Walt Mossberg to start the groundbreaking AllThingsD conference, as well as pioneering online tech sites.

It’s only a slight exaggeration to say Swisher has interviewed everyone. Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Bob Iger, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Meg Whitman, Peter Thiel, and Mark Zuckerberg are just a few who Swisher made sweat-figuratively and, in one famous case, literally.

Despite the damage she chronicles, Swisher remains optimistic about tech’s potential to help solve problems and not just create them. She calls upon the industry to make better, more thoughtful choices, even as a new set of powerful AI tools are poised to change the world yet again. At its heart, this book is a love story to, for, and about tech from someone who knows it better than anyone.

Burn Book includes soaring tales of innovation and brilliant entrepreneurs, as well as Silicon Valley’s much more complex history of striving, success, and failure. The book details how the commercial internet came into being and how, for all it has given the world, it now sits at the center of global power, creating a clear and present danger to humanity.

What's Inside

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Kara has become so shrill at this point that only dogs can hear her
Elon Musk, Tesla guy, May 2023
Swisher, the bad-ass journalist and OG chronicler of Silicon Valley . . . takes no prisoners in this highly readable look at the evolution of the digital world . . . Bawdy, brash and compulsively thought-provoking, just like its author, Burn Book sizzles
She has a coffee before bed every night, after midnight. This seems somehow emblematic to me. (In a good way)
Ben Smith, media writer guy and other reportrepreneur besides Kara
Most people in this town stab you in the back, but [Kara] stabbed me in the front, and I appreciate that
John McLaughlin, former host, The McLaughlin Group
A force in the industry
Meredith Kopit Levien, CEO, The New York Times
The most recognizable chronicler of the digital revolution
Washington Post
I have rarely seen evil in as pure a form as Yoel Roth and Kara Swisher's heart is filled with seething hate. I regard their dislike of me as a compliment
Elon Musk (who could use a compliment these days), September 2023
An exposé that also seeks to avert technological calamity on the perilous road still ahead
Associated Press
There she was with a front- row seat to the mining of great intellectual property - using technology, really - as a means of creating value [and] in effect turned the results of her own reporting on herself
Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, two times
Funny, smart, chic-y, and insightful
Katie Couric
As existential questions confront both the tech and media industries. . . Swisher takes no prisoners, offering readers a behind-the-curtain peek at the industry's most powerful and ego-obsessed titans
Reliable Sources
It is a constant joke in the Valley when people write memos for them to say, "I hope Kara never sees this"
Sheryl Sandberg, former COO, Facebook (before it was called Meta, in order to hide in plain sight)
She's willing to get into the brawl with me
Ari Emanuel, Endeavor CEO and well-known brawler
Part of the power of her podcast is there's a sense of somebody who has been here the whole time and is kind of fed up
Casey Newton, tech journalist (and former renter of Kara’s guest cottage in San Francisco)
Burn Book shows how understanding these leaders' pasts can illuminate their current motivations and aspirations
Swisher has been the most entrepreneurial of reporters, both in the doggedness of her work and the ever-evolving array of venues where it's manifested itself
Fast Company
Unlike the mythological Cassandra whose prophecies were ignored, both the 'children' and adults will pay heed to [Kara Swisher's] warnings
The Daily Beast
Nobody straddles the world of tech and media quite like Kara Swisher... This book isn't just a juicy read, it's also a valuable historical document, giving readers an inside look at the architects of some of the biggest tech moments of the last thirty years
Charlotte Alter, TIME