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21 Dog Years : Doing Time @ Amazon.com

by Mike Daisey

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2581186,767 (3.04)10
Boy meets dot-com, boy falls for dot-com, boy flees dot-com in horror. So goes one of the most perversely hilarious love stories you will ever read, one that blends tech culture, hero worship, cat litter, Albanian economics, venture capitalism, and free bagels into a surreal cocktail of delusion. In 1998, when Amazon.com went to temp agencies to recruit people, they gave them a simple directive: send us your freaks. Mike Daisey -- slacker, onetime aesthetics major, dilettante -- seemed perfect for the job. His ascension from lowly temp to customer service representative to business development hustler over the course of twenty-one dog years is the stuff of both dreams and nightmares. With lunatic precision, Daisey describes the lightless cube farms in which book orders were scrawled on Post-its while technicians struggled to bring computers back online; the fourteen-hour days fueled by caffeine, fanaticism, and illicit day-trading from office desks made from doors; his strange compulsion to send free books to Norwegians; and the fevered insistence of BizDev higher-ups that the perfect business partner was Pets.com -- the now-extinct company that spent all its assets on a sock puppet. In these pages, you'll meet Warren, the cowboy of customer service, capable of verbally hog-tying even the most abusive customer; Amazon employee #5, a reclusive computer gamer worth a cool $300 million, who spends at least six hours a day locked in his office killing goblins; and Jean-Michele, Mike's girlfriend and sparring partner, who tries to keep him grounded, even as dot-com mania seduces them both. At strategic intervals, the narrative is punctuated by hysterically honest letters to CEO Jeff Bezos -- missives that seem ripped from the collective unconscious of dot-com disciples the world over. 21 Dog Years is an epic story of greed, self-deception, and heartbreak, a wickedly funny anthem to an era of bounteous stock options and boundless insanity.… (more)
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» See also 10 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
This book is amusing, certainly, but I wouldn't exactly call it a great work of computer history. It's basically the story of a humorist working for a corporation, sitting in the cogs. It's inoffensive and worth checking out from the library, but I wouldn't call this a must-have book about the history of the computer industry. ( )
  Count_Zero | Jul 7, 2020 |
If Mike Daisey had worked in customer service at some other dotcom I'm not sure that his account would have been published.
Amazon.com and Jeff Bezos have a giant fascination for the public and the J.B. shadow falls over the whole book. Employees are presented as part of a cult and the author even addresses imaginary emails to J.B. to explore their imaginary relationship..
From a commercial point of view Amazon has been a big success and the author doesn't at all suggest why this is, so I would be much more interested in an autobiography by J.B. himself should one ever arrive. ( )
  Miro | Jun 23, 2012 |
wage slave at dot.com gives insider scoop on cultish fascination and distress

2.02
  aletheia21 | Oct 6, 2011 |
It was worth the read. Sadly I understood alot of what he was describing...sarcastically or not. The world of being a CS ... and realizing the point that the job is really not for you, was right on the button. ( )
  Dianadot | Aug 10, 2009 |
This was great. I really heartily encourage you to get the audiobook version of this as it is read by the author himself who normally performs this and his other writings in a manner similar to Spaulding Gray. Audible has it for download and I'm not sure who else might have it. ( )
  JohnMunsch | Apr 10, 2009 |
Showing 1-5 of 11 (next | show all)
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Boy meets dot-com, boy falls for dot-com, boy flees dot-com in horror. So goes one of the most perversely hilarious love stories you will ever read, one that blends tech culture, hero worship, cat litter, Albanian economics, venture capitalism, and free bagels into a surreal cocktail of delusion. In 1998, when Amazon.com went to temp agencies to recruit people, they gave them a simple directive: send us your freaks. Mike Daisey -- slacker, onetime aesthetics major, dilettante -- seemed perfect for the job. His ascension from lowly temp to customer service representative to business development hustler over the course of twenty-one dog years is the stuff of both dreams and nightmares. With lunatic precision, Daisey describes the lightless cube farms in which book orders were scrawled on Post-its while technicians struggled to bring computers back online; the fourteen-hour days fueled by caffeine, fanaticism, and illicit day-trading from office desks made from doors; his strange compulsion to send free books to Norwegians; and the fevered insistence of BizDev higher-ups that the perfect business partner was Pets.com -- the now-extinct company that spent all its assets on a sock puppet. In these pages, you'll meet Warren, the cowboy of customer service, capable of verbally hog-tying even the most abusive customer; Amazon employee #5, a reclusive computer gamer worth a cool $300 million, who spends at least six hours a day locked in his office killing goblins; and Jean-Michele, Mike's girlfriend and sparring partner, who tries to keep him grounded, even as dot-com mania seduces them both. At strategic intervals, the narrative is punctuated by hysterically honest letters to CEO Jeff Bezos -- missives that seem ripped from the collective unconscious of dot-com disciples the world over. 21 Dog Years is an epic story of greed, self-deception, and heartbreak, a wickedly funny anthem to an era of bounteous stock options and boundless insanity.

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