In the Plex
By Steven Levy
I expected In the Plex to be an objective history of Google and its various endeavors. As it turns out, I was only half right. It is, indeed, a history of Google.
This is not to say that Levy did a poor job researching the book. As far as I can tell he did a fairly in depth job. But when you describe saying to a developer, “I’d rather be doused with gasoline and set on fire than use your product” as “tough love” (171), I’m going to say you are a teensy-weensy biased.
Not only was this work less critical than I would expect of a journalist, I found that there were many times Levy seemed to actively avoid looking at things objectively. At the risk of crit-fic, I’ll say that Levy is fairly obviously enamored of his subject. He almost never said anything negative about the founders. Only positive things were allowed, apparently.
To that effect, he spends a disproportionate amount of time on Google’s successes and barely mentions its failures. I have no problem with the author examining Google’s success. But seriously, not everything it touches turns to gold. Looking at what didn’t work and why really would have been helpful. But no. No, that would make sense. Instead, let’s just gloss over all that.
The writing itself was fine but repetitive. I lost track of the number of times I read “they quickly set up a war room”. I get it. War rooms happen. On the plus side, Kilroy was mentioned, so that happened.
If given the choice between this book and being stranded on a desert island, I’d pick the book. But I wouldn’t take it to the desert island.