New Book Spins Steamy Tale of Facebook's Founding

It's supposed to be a book about the world's most influential social network. But instead, it's the uber-elite social scene at a supremely elite New England college that holds center stage for most of Ben Mezrich's new nonfiction book on the early days of the Facebook Web site.

From cocktail parties at the university's high-flying Finals Clubs to beer blowouts in claustrophobic college dorm rooms, Mezrich's book retraces the bumpy path of two Harvard University "best friends" who try to win over their classmates, not to mention a few attractive coeds, by launching a revolutionary social Web site.

"The Accidental Billionaires: The Founding of Facebook: A Tale of Sex, Money, Genius and Betrayal" is a titillating page-turner about the rapid rise of one of the world's youngest billionaires, Mark Zuckerberg, and his widely popular social network, Facebook.

Implying that the motivation behind the site was scoring with the opposite sex, the book describes racy scenes with Victoria's Secret models in posh nightclubs and other sexual escapades in the men's bathroom.

Mezrich Drew Praise, Controversy for 'Bringing Down the House'

But though it's still two weeks away from hitting the bookstores, those familiar with the key characters and the growth of the company are scratching their heads, wondering how much of the book is actually fact and how much is fiction.

Mezrich is well known for his book, "Bringing Down the House," about the true story of some MIT whiz kids who took in millions from Las Vegas casinos. The book spent more than a year on The New York Times Best Seller list but drew criticism for made up characters and scenes.

Doubleday declined to make Mezrich available for an interview in the weeks before July 14, the book's release date. But in an author's note at the front of the book, Mezrich says "Accidental Billionaires" is a "dramatic, narrative account" of the founding of Facebook.

"There are a number of different -- and often contentious -- opinions about some of the events that took place," he writes. "Trying to paint a scene from the memories of dozens of sources -- some direct witnesses, some indirect -- can often lead to discrepancies."

Zuckerberg Declined to Be Interviewed for Book

In his note, Mezrich says he re-created scenes and dialogue based on interviews and documents.

But what most concerns would-be critics is that Mezrich did not speak at all with Zuckerberg and appears to rely most heavily on one source, Zuckerberg's estranged co-founder Eduardo Saverin. (In his author's note, Mezrich did say that Zuckerberg declined numerous requests to speak with him.)

Saverin, one year ahead of Zuckerberg at college, was one of the first to invest in Facebook but was pushed out of the company and later sued Zuckerberg, who countersued. Those suits were dismissed in a settlement. Saverin did not immediately respond to requests for comment from

"As someone who spent a year completely immersed in the story of Facebook, it's an interesting story but not one you can understand easily," said David Kirkpatrick, a writer for Fortune magazine and author of the upcoming "The Facebook Effect," from Simon & Schuster. "It's hard to understand how he could write a nonfiction story about something no one told him about."

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