We’ve often wondered what might have become of Aleksey Vayner had he never made his hit film “Impossible Is Nothing.” Where would he be in five years? What levels of success would he have achieved?
We’re pretty sure the answer has arrived in the form of Timothy Ferriss, Princeton ’00. Currently a “guest lecturer” at Princeton (sounds a little misleading to us; he’s not in the official directory), Ferriss has honed self-help guruship down to an art — he’s good-looking, well spoken, and he knows you initially assume he’s a fraud. His new book, The 4-Hour Workweek, explains how to work very little (check e-mail twice a day, outsource all your work to Asians for $5 an hour) and still live your dreams. Among the dreams Ferriss has already lived: Motorcycling across China. Dancing tango in Argentina (and on Regis and Kelly). Kickboxing. Skiing in the Andes. Gaining 34 pounds of muscle in 4 weeks. In other words, impossible is nothing.
The book already seems to be taking off. It’s currently ranked in Amazon’s top 10. The site’s reviewers have given it five stars, nearly across the board.
And that’s where it gets weird. The Amazon comments are absurdly positive. Frighteningly positive. Eyebrow-raisingly positive. Just look at the slew of reviews left all on the same day, April 24:
C. Ashenden, April 24: I don’t give away compliments easily but I guarantee that this book will change your life. Don’t wait.
Brian Page, April 24: I’m not a reviewer of books. In fact, this is the only one I’ve ever commented on. So as the first person to review The 4-Hour Workweek, I’m going to make a prediction. Remember, I called it first. This book WILL be a best-seller.
Sherwood Forlee, April 24: Because of this book, I would have to say that my dreams will soon become reality.
Matt, April 24: I don’t know Tim, nor do I have any financial connection to this book. … I have never written a review on Amazon before, but this book compelled me to write my first. I highly recommend you get it, and I guarantee it will get you thinking about making changes in your life.
Lindsay, April 24: I have always been a little wary of books focused arond life-improvement, but “The 4-Hour Work Week” book strikes the perfect balance between practical guidebook with real-world suggestions for how to maximize the work/life balance (something everyone needs to learn to do) and inspirational encouragement that yes, the life you want is just around the corner.
Michelle Bartakova, April 24: I believe this book is going to be a bestseller, will inspire many, and I would go as far as to say it will save lives. … The revolution has began…. If this review sounds little bit over the top, well it is and so is the book. This is my first review on amazon, and who knows my next one might be written by my virtual assistant:)
(Hilarious commenter exchange on that last one is here.) When a tipster pointed out the unbroken slew of over-the-top raves to us, we saw this comment among them:
Smells fishy!, April 26, 2007
Reviewer: cyan (Sydney, Australia)
There are 18 reviews beneath me. Every single one was written on the same day. This is the only review of every single reviewer bar one. I wonder what the odds are of 18 individuals who never review on Amazon logging onto the site on the same day and giving the book 5 stars?
Even more fishily, that last comment is now gone. We have to agree, it’s hard to see more than a dozen glowing, similarly-argued raves spontaneously cropping up all at the same time — from people who have never before reviewed another title. If indeed Ferriss had a hand in arranging them, that’s not necessarily wrong — just really off-putting, really douchey, really … Aleksey.