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Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story

Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story

4.4 22
by Kurt Eichenwald

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From an award-winning New York Times reporter comes the full, mind-boggling story of the lies, crimes, and ineptitude behind the Enron scandal that imperiled a presidency, destroyed a marketplace, and changed Washington and Wall Street forever.

It was the corporate collapse that appeared to come out of nowhere. In late 2001, the Enron


From an award-winning New York Times reporter comes the full, mind-boggling story of the lies, crimes, and ineptitude behind the Enron scandal that imperiled a presidency, destroyed a marketplace, and changed Washington and Wall Street forever.

It was the corporate collapse that appeared to come out of nowhere. In late 2001, the Enron Corporation--a darling of the financial world, a company whose executives were friends of presidents and the powerful--imploded virtually overnight, leaving vast wreckage in its wake and sparking a criminal investigation that would last for years.

Kurt Eichenwald transforms the unbelievable story of the Enron scandal into a rip-roaring narrative of epic proportions, taking readers behind every closed door--from the Oval Office to the executive suites, from the highest reaches of the Justice Department to the homes and bedrooms of the top officers. It is a tale of global reach--from Houston to Washington, from Bombay to London, from Munich to Sao Paolo--laying out the unbelievable scenes that twisted together to create this shocking true story.

Eichenwald reveals never-disclosed details of a story that features a cast including George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul O’Neill, Harvey Pitt, Colin Powell, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alan Greenspan, Ken Lay, Andy Fastow, Jeff Skilling, Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch and Sumner Redstone. With its you-are-there glimpse into the secretive worlds of corporate power, Conspiracy of Fools is an all-true financial and political thriller of cinematic proportions.

Editorial Reviews

With the pacing of a Grisham thriller and the probing intelligence of first-rate journalism, Conspiracy of Fools exposes the hubris, deceit, and corruption at the heart of one America's most devastating financial scandals. Though there are plenty of Enron tell-alls and exposés to choose from, we give this one the nod because of New York Times scribe Kurt Eichenwald's dazzling ability to capture the human drama lurking within the scandal. Put this alongside Barbarians at the Gate and Liar's Poker as a classic about corporate crime.
Charles R. Morris
Two questions arise: How could financial and investing professionals have been so badly gulled? And behind all the Potemkin-village financial reports, what was actually going on at Enron? The first question may be one for aficionados of mass hallucination, but Kurt Eichenwald's Conspiracy of Fools brilliantly answers the second … Conspiracy of Fools is a splendid achievement. Mr. Eichenwald has an encyclopedic grasp of a watershed business collapse, and has turned it into a gripping read, a true tale for our times.
— The New York Times
Barbara Ley Toffler
Eichenwald has masterfully depicted the devastating results of that lost love of purposeful work. He also has given us a fine example of what love of the job can produce: a dynamite book. Kurt Eichenwald clearly loves what he does.
— The Washington Post
MAGNIFICENT... written in the manner of a breezy crypto-thriller and told from the viewpoint of a fly on the wall-or at times, a devil on the shoulders. The style makes gripping reading... readers looking for a fact-filled companion to one of the all-time greatest Ponzi schemes will find everything they're expecting here, along with compelling prose and remarkable insights.
A RIVETING NARRATIVE... Eichenwald, a reporter for The New York Times, is becoming known not just for his strong newspaper reporting, which has won him two Polk Awards, but for turning stories of corporate crime into books that read something like John Grisham novels.
New York Post
If it's an inside look at corporate malfeasance you're after, look no further than Conspiracy of Fools, the story of Enron and Kurt Eichenwald, who previously aimed his investigative pen at Archer Daniels Midland with The Informant, now on the Hollywood drawing board.
US News & World Report
After reading Kurt Eichenwald's Conspiracy of Fools: A True Story, you will wonder how it was possible no one heard the din of voices crying out in the wilderness of Enron's ruinous financial schemes.... The hefty book, an outgrowth of Eichenwald's three years covering the scandal for the New York Times, offers a timely reminiscence as the trials of former Enron chairman Ken Lay and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Skilling approach.
Although Enron's story is more convoluted than a Medici revenge plot, Eichenwald... spins out the essential facts in quick, colorful scenes. He recreates the dialogue of the principal characters as convincingly as if he had been at their elbow taking notes.
A PAGE-TURNING FINANCIAL THRILLER....This book compares with Liar's Poker and Barbarians at the Gate in its breadth and depth of coverage of esoteric corporate culture and financial practices, recognizing the compelling human drama beneath the scandal.
Details Magazine
Only this white-collar-crime reporter for the New York Times could turn the Enron scandal into a book that reads like a Joel Schumacher script (starring Gene Hackman as glad-handing Ken Lay?). . . Eichenwald's style, which worked so well in The Informant, carries the day.
Publishers Weekly
This enormous, intimate blow-by-blow of Enron's implosion gets as close to what actually happened, in terms of people making (bad) decisions in real time, as anyone who wasn't there with a concealed video-phone possibly could. Having combed endless documents and interviewed countless principals and peripherals, Eichenwald (The Informant) presents short declarative sentences (and lots of sentence fragments) that may have run through the heads of men like top executives Skilling, Lay and Fastow as they managed to cook a very large set of books, as well as men like Stuart Zisman, a lawyer in the firm's wholesale division who wrote an early memo titled "Overall Book Manipulation" that stated "the majority of investments being introduced to Raptor are bad ones." Eichenwald's bald depictions ("Skilling sank deeper into depression"; "It couldn't be true, [Anderson partner Tom] Bauer thought") make for real tension. Collegial meetings at the White House with Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and others; charged conference calls with skeptical investors; endless buy-ins, buyouts and acronyms-all are presented in a rat-a-tat style thick with corporate anxiety, keeping pages turning even as the details themselves are numbing. (Luckily, Eichenwald includes a "Cast of Characters" and "List of Deals" so that readers can remind themselves of past carnage.) As an unadorned attempt to get into the heads of some major manipulators, this book can hardly be bettered. (On sale Mar. 8) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The fools here are the folks who ran Enron, as well as those who got sucked up in their shenanigans. From the author of The Informant. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A chatty, overly long, but highly readable account of the collapse of Enron and the reasons the energy empire fell. New York Times reporter Eichenwald (The Informant, 2001, etc.) is careful to separate what is reliably known from what can only be inferred in the Enron affair. Still, the narrative is rich in implication. Early on, for instance, Eichenwald ventures that top executive Andy Fastow threatened Enron head Ken Lay with some sort of exposure on being fired: "Had his chief financial officer, a man he had trusted implicitly, really been a crook all along?" Eichenwald quickly cautions that there's much more to the collapse of Enron, an energy-trading firm that traded in many intangibles besides, than simple lawbreaking: "Shocking incompetence, unjustified arrogance, compromised ethics and an utter disregard for the market's judgment all played decisive roles." But then we're back to crime or criminally stupid behavior: Here Enron execs are playing fast and loose with "squirrely numbers," trying alternately to show profit where none existed or to hide profit, but sometimes paying far more tax than the law required; there they're making incredibly poor investment decisions ("Skilling worked his jaw. . . . Seven billion dollars invested to earn $100 million in profits. Hell, if they had stuck the money in a bank account earning three percent, the earnings would have been higher!"). All the while, Lay hovers above the scene, merrily joining George W. Bush's inner circle while apparently never quite grasping what was happening inside his own corridors of power-and placing trust in bad lieutenants, some of whom were "secret participants in Fastow's schemes," others of whom were simply bad.Interestingly, toward the end of the book, one of the few good lieutenants to emerge earns sidelong praise from Lay-namely, Sherron Watkins, the whistleblower who helped establish federal cases against the company and author of an early insider account of the debacle. There's a certain guilty, craning-to-see-the-accident pleasure in these pages, which could have benefited from a careful trimming. Likely not the last word on the Enron affair, but also likely to endure as a standard account.
From the Publisher
Praise for Kurt Eichenwald’s bestseller, The Informant:

“Ranks with A Civil Action as one of the best nonfiction books of the last decade.”
—New York Times Book Review

“The thriller of the year—and it’s all true!”
—Dallas Morning News

“One of the most intriguing—and nearly unbelievable—nonfiction books in recent memory . . . a tangled tale worthy of John Le Carré.”
—Portland Oregonian

“A compelling narrative . . . a business book for Grisham readers.”
—Chicago Tribune

“Reads like a well-written whodunit.”
—Denver Post

“A spellbinding account, as much of a page-turner as a Grisham novel.”
—Washington Monthly

“I guarantee it’ll keep you reading late into the night.”
—Jonathan Harr, author of A Civil Action

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The two men pushed through the glass-and-chrome doors of the Enron building and hurried down the polished granite steps outside. Across the street, a white fountain resembling a mammoth three-tiered wedding cake bubbled in the brilliant winter morning. The sounds of splashing receded as the men crossed Smith Street, a main artery for downtown Houston. Rounding a corner, the older man, David Woytek, glanced at his watch. Fifteen minutes to go. Fifteen minutes, he felt sure, till all hell broke loose.

Without a word, he picked up the pace, followed in step by John Beard, a colleague from Enron's internal-audit department. On that morning, February 2, 1987, the two were eager to meet with Ken Lay, to finally prove that two of his underlings had cheated his company. Beard carried the damning evidence—bank records showing millions of dollars siphoned from Enron into personal accounts, transactions so suspicious that the bank itself raised a red flag to Woytek. But, most delicious of all, the executives under investigation—Louis Borget and Thomas Mastroeni, two top officers in Enron's oil-trading unit in Valhalla, New York—would be at the meeting, defending themselves with what Woytek and Beard were certain would be a tangle of lies.

The proof was strong, but the auditors knew it would need to be. Borget was Enron's earnings Svengali, a man whose business reliably brought in tens of millions of dollars in badly needed annual profits. He and Mastroeni, his top finance executive, were rumored to consort with the rulers of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, contacts everyone believed gave them strong knowledge about the inner workings of OPEC, the Arab petroleum cartel. Taking them down would mean losing their connections and dismantling their profit machine at a time when Enron was struggling.

But Woytek and Beard believed Lay would have no choice; their case was ironclad. Mastroeni had opened an Enron corporate account at Eastern Savings Bank, listing himself and Borget as the signers. But neither had bothered to tell Enron about the account, and it was not recorded in the company's books. Millions in corporate cash had been wired there, about half of which ended up in Mastroeni's personal accounts. The dealings had all the earmarks of some multimillion-dollar scam, with Enron as the mark.

Woytek and Beard turned onto Dallas Street, two blocks from their destination, Enron's other offices at the Houston Natural Gas building. The streets of downtown seemed almost abandoned that morning, with only a smattering of cars around, a reminder that the years-long oil bust was still wreaking its havoc on Houston.

The two auditors walked into the lobby, taking the elevator to the sixteenth floor. There, a receptionist directed them to the office of Mick Seidl, Enron's president. Lay had borrowed the office for the morning meeting while Seidl was on the road.

They arrived in the doorway of the large, wood-paneled office. Borget and Mastroeni were already inside, deep in discussion with John Harding and Steve Sulentic, the home office's nominal supervisors of the oil unit. When the auditors walked in, the conversation stopped.

"Hey," Harding said. "Good to see you."

There were handshakes all around. Borget picked up a thick stack of documents and slid them across the table.

"This is a memo with everything you need to know about these transactions," he said. "All the relevant banking records and other material are attached."

"Thanks," Woytek replied. "We'll look through it."

Beard picked up the documents and left Seidl's office, following Woytek to an unoccupied secretary's desk. He set the documents down, leaning over as he read them. "CONFIDENTIAL," the first page blared. "Memo for the File."

Step by step, the memo described how the transactions came about. In one paragraph it mentioned some attached bank statements. Beard thumbed through the pages and found the records. He studied them for an instant.

Wait a minute.

He scanned the records again, fearful he had made some mistake. No, there was no doubt. He glanced over at Woytek.

"Dave, come here," he said. "Take a look at these."

Woytek strolled over and skimmed through the statements. They were from Eastern Savings Bank, in the name of the oil-trading division. Nothing seemed surprising; the discovery of that account had set off the investigation. With an almost imperceptible shrug, Woytek looked at Beard, waiting to hear what he was missing.

"These are the same statements we already have from the bank," Beard said. "But this copy has been altered."

"You've gotta be kidding me. Show me our copy."

Beard fished through his briefcase, pulling out an almost-identical set of the statements. Woytek laid the pages side by side with the records from Borget.

Unbelievable. The statements were from the same account on the same date, but the numbers were different. The original records showed hundreds of thousands of dollars sloshing in and out. In this new copy, those transactions had simply disappeared. Woytek held Borget's records up to the light. No lines. No shadows. No telltale signs anywhere of an alteration. Somebody had put a lot of effort into this.

Woytek chuckled. These traders were planning to defend themselves to Lay—using dummied-up records? This meeting was going to be even more interesting than he had thought.

"Well," he said, looking up, "that settles it. Those two are gonna be fired today."

As the two auditors spoke, they saw Lay and Rich Kinder, Enron's general counsel, walking toward Seidl's office. Woytek and Beard gathered up their papers and stood to greet them. Everyone immediately followed Lay into the office and took a seat around the conference table.

After some chitchat, Lay opened things up. "Well, we know why we're here. So, Lou, why don't you go ahead?"

Borget handed out copies of the memo with the attached bank records. "As everyone's aware," he began, "questions have been raised about some of the trading operation's financial transactions. We want to go through them so that you know why these were done. I think everyone will be very satisfied with what they hear."

Borget and Mastroeni took turns laying out the story. Because of their huge profits in 1986, they explained, company managers had asked them to find a way to shift income into 1987, the current year; that way, Enron would have a jump on hitting its profit projections.

"Now, we were told to get that done using whatever legitimate business practice we could," Borget said, moving his hands as he spoke. "So we set up a system that's used by lots of other trading companies."

The idea was to conduct twinned trades that canceled each other out, known as a "book-out" or a "net-out." So, Mastroeni explained, they tracked down three trading companies—Isla Petroleum, Southwest Oil & Commodities, and Petropol Energy—that wanted to boost their 1986 earnings. Then, that December, Mastroeni and Borget entered into trades that gave profits to the competitors and losses to Enron. The plan was to reverse the trades in 1987, with Enron gaining the profits and the three others getting the losses. All the parties would walk away even and with exactly the results they wanted. The Eastern Savings account had been opened as a precaution, Mastroeni explained, to hold the money until the trades were completed. But since it was in the company's name, Mastroeni said, he had transferred the money to personal accounts, ready to be returned to Enron once the 1987 trades were conducted.

"How many other transactions have you guys done off the books?" Woytek asked.

"This is it," Mastroeni replied.

As the traders' words tumbled out, Woytek breathed deeply. This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard.

Sulentic broke in, looking Lay in the eye. "This was all just a misunderstanding, Ken. Lou and Tom really believed they were acting in Enron's interest. I say we accept that mistakes were made, do what needs to be done to correct them, and move on to a profitable 1987."

Lay nodded grimly, seeming lost in thought. "This is obviously not the type of thing we want to have happen," he said finally. "I understand what you were trying to do, but this is not the way to accomplish that."

Everything would be undone, Lay ordered. The transactions must be reversed and the off-books bank account shut down. And there would be other consequences. New controls, new oversight. This would not happen again.

Lay sat back. "Does anybody else have anything?"

"Well," Woytek said, "I have a couple of problems."

There was a short discussion about taxes and when the income would be reported. Heads nodded all around; they agreed Enron would report all of its 1986 profits in that year and pay the taxes. Woytek glanced at the traders. By raising such a tangential issue first, he seemed to have lowered their guard. They looked relaxed, confident.

Time to move in for the kill.

He held up the banking records from the memo. "But the real problem I have is that these bank statements you guys brought here today have been altered."

Woytek pulled out the second set of statements, describing the discrepancies. All the while, he stared at the traders, looking in their eyes for a flicker of shame or embarrassment. None. Just pure, controlled fury.

"Now, wait a minute!" Borget snapped.

"I can explain that," Mastroeni interrupted.

There was this trader, Mastroeni said, who had been fired at the end of 1985. After Enron paid out its bonuses for the year, the trader had hired a lawyer, threatening to sue the company if he didn't receive a bonus.

"There was so much going on at Enron at the time we didn't want to start a new political problem internally," Mastroeni said. "So we set up a closeout transaction for him and paid him a $250,000 bonus. But that was it."

"So why alter the records?" Woytek asked.

Borget scowled. "We just didn't want to cloud up this meeting with this stuff about bonuses. It has nothing to do with what we're talking about. So we just took it out."

The back-and-forth continued for several minutes. Lay just watched, expressionless as he listened. Woytek wrapped up his interrogation and sat back, ready for the hammer to drop.

Lay clasped his hands on the table. "Well," he said finally. "Okay."

Oh, shit, Woytek thought. These guys had just presented forged documents, and they're going to get away with it?

"I just don't want this to happen again," Lay continued. "If something like this comes up again, call us. We can handle this bonus situation. But these profits have got to be reported properly."

The meeting ended, and the traders, somehow, had survived. Everyone began filing out.

"Dave, John, stay behind a minute."

The two auditors looked back at Lay, who was signaling for them to return to the conference table. They took their seats; Lay stayed silent until the office door closed.

"Okay," Lay said. "Go to Valhalla and look through their records. If I find out Borget is trading on inside information, on tips he's getting from somebody in OPEC, I'll make sure he never works in the industry again."

Woytek and Beard nodded, taking notes.

"So, John," Lay continued, "you go ahead and get that going, and Dave and I will run through some details."

Beard gathered his papers and strode out of the room. Lay leaned in, his eyes boring in on Woytek.

"I want you to go up there and take your top people," Lay said. "Make sure every penny of this money is returned to the company, even this bonus Borget was talking about. I want all of it back. And I want you to go today, now."

"All right," Woytek replied. "We're on it."

Both men stood, and Lay escorted Woytek to the door. He felt confident that his message had been heard. He wasn't going to stand by and be played for a fool. Besides, the trading unit had always struck him as a little wild and woolly; maybe this was the chance to get the place under some more watchful eyes. Lay liked that idea; he liked to see the possibilities, the upside. As anyone who knew Enron would say, Lay and his company had long ago learned that every challenge could be transformed into opportunity.

The dilapidated black truck rumbled over the rural Missouri road, veering ever closer to the edge. In the flatbed, dozens of crated-up chickens squawked, scratched, and clucked as the truck headed out of a speck of a town called Raymondville. It was 1948, and Ken Lay's father, Omer, was struggling for the second time to keep a general store afloat. Omer had taken to purchasing chickens from local farmers, selling them at a profit in nearby cities, and on this day he had gambled everything on a single shipment. But his driver had knocked back a few drinks and now was weaving all over the road. The weight of the truck shifted, until it flipped over in a terrible crunch of metal and wood. The driver survived, but most of the chickens were killed—right along with Omer's business.

The accident was a turning point for the struggling, deeply religious Lay family. With two daughters and Kenny, their six-year-old middle child, Omer and his wife, Ruth, had hoped the store might allow them to settle down, maybe own their own place. Now those dreams were gone.

Omer took a job in Mississippi selling stoves door-to-door, bouncing his family around the state but never seeing enough success to make ends meet. The family hit bottom one Thanksgiving when Ruth--the spark plug of the household who delighted in nothing more than whipping up family feasts—could only afford to serve luncheon meat. Admitting defeat, the Lays moved to a Missouri farm with some of Ruth's family until Omer could get back on his feet. Soon he found work in sales and a spot preaching at a church.

Around that time, young Kenny—he was usually "Kenny" as a child, never "Ken" and rarely "Kenneth"—scouted up some jobs for before and after school so that he could help the family. He delivered newspapers, mowed grass, baled hay, anything he could find. Between Omer and Kenny, money was coming in, and the Lays were able to settle in a home just off a dirt road cutting through Rush Hill.

Within a few years the financial troubles returned. Lay's older sister, Bonnie, headed to college, and the cost was far more than the family had anticipated. The only way the family could scrape together the money for college, they decided, was for the kids to live at home. So the Lays moved again, this time some fifty miles southwest to Columbia, the college town for the University of Missouri.

Lay's big moment in college came in his sophomore year, when he signed up for introductory economics, taught by a popular professor, Pinkney Walker. Lay found himself mesmerized by Walker's lectures laying out free-market theories; this, he decided, was what he wanted to study. Walker was impressed with the smart young man and became a mentor for young Lay. With Walker's encouragement, Lay stayed on at school after his senior year to obtain his master's degree. But that was enough for Lay; he was eager to get out and start earning some money.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Kurt Eichenwald wrote for the New York Times for more than twenty years before becoming a senior writer for Newsweek. A two-time winner of the George Polk Award for excellence in journalism and a finalist for the 2000 Pulitzer Prize, he has been selected repeatedly for the TJFR Business News Reporter as one of the nation’s most influential financial journalists. His book, The Informant was turned into a major motion picture. He lives in Dallas with his wife and three children.

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Conspiracy of Fools 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 35 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
You might think you know all about the Enron debacle, but this page-turner sheds new light on the scandal of the century. From Jeff Skilling's drinking and dithering to Andy Fastow's bullying and badgering, this report plumbs the depths of Enron's skullduggery. Accomplished journalist Kurt Eichenwald writes in a novelistic style, using dialogue, scenes and action to move his plot along. The result is a very complete and compelling account of Enron's collapse. At times, Eichenwald oversteps, such as when he reports what Skilling was thinking during a night of heavy drinking. While this is a lengthy tome, Eichenwald rewards those readers who keep a stiff upper lip with a fast-moving, in-depth account. We recommend this book to managers and investors who want a reminder of what happens when greed trumps common sense.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Conspiracy of Fools is a spellbinding account of the downfall of Enron, as good as or better than The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron. Although I highly recommend this book, I have two criticisms. First, the author, Kurt Eichenwald, supplied information on too many people. It became confusing trying to keep track of all the characters ¿ we didn¿t need to know the name of every single person. I would rather he picked fewer characters and developed them more fully. Secondly, I found his style of following several topics in each chapter, jumping from one to the other, to be a bit unsettling. Other than that, Mr. Eichenwald did an excellent job of recounting the events leading to Enron¿s collapse. In particular, he did a good job explaining how all the off-balance sheet partnerships set up by Andrew Fastow worked. In fact, the one character he did the best job of developing was Fastow, showing him to be a sleazy, self-centered, arrogant crook. I look forward to the final book on Enron, narrating the events after their bankruptcy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kurt Eichenwald is to be commended for his ability to capture the facts about the Enron debacle. My husband and I both enjoyed reading this book. It's better than any fictional novel we have read recently. We really like the way this author writes. We have already purchased two of his other books. We may never read fiction again.
englishroseCK More than 1 year ago
This book is one of the best non-fiction I've read. The tone and detail of the content is incredible - how he ever achieved this, I will never know. I am not a finance person, but with this book, you don't need to be
Guest More than 1 year ago
After reading this book and 'The Informant,' I have no real desire to read fiction. Real life stories are so much more interesting because you know it really happened. If you have any interest in the internal workings of a corporation, you must get this.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If this were a fiction book, it would be too bizzare to consider believeable. The book does an excellent job of walking the reader through the story that took down a Fortune 50 company and Arthur Andersen with it. Unfortunately, this behavior is all too believeable in the 'me first' coporate world. Anyone with a business background would find this book facinating.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A fantastic must-read. He waited until the dust had settled and wrote a wonderfully comprehensive book that answers so many questions about this historic scandal.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm certain that all of us like to read a good book. One filled with intrigue, deceit, back-stabbing, illegal acts, social issues, fear, egos, greed, scandals,etc. All the ingredients of an interesting novel. Only it's not. It is the true story of ENRON's humble pipeline beginnings to its bankruptcy and the saga of a hidden but eventually uncovered paper trail. The book---'Conspiracy of Fools' by Kurt Eichenwald. Notwithstanding the complicated financial transactions involved, it is written in a fast moving manner by a winning New York Times writer
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a real water cooler book. Anyone who works for a large corporation has to recognize this cast of characters; the over paid CEO (in this case Ken Lay) who does not sweat the details and is more of a press the flesh relationship builder; the COO (in this case Jeff Skilling) who is over his head and can¿t ask the right questions; the under qualified CFO (in this case Andrew Fastow) who is both a crook and incompetent; and the real villain of the piece the Board of Directors who voted to let Fastow get away with breaking corporate conflict of interest rules. This cast is joined by literally dozens of other players, all highly compentent and sure as rain that something is not right at the top. A most compelling example is Jim Bouillion who bought Enron¿s insurance, did his job well and protected the company only to lose everything and learn his management thought a monkey could do his job. Everything is hear in a richly layer narrative that reads like a classic American Business novel. What¿s wrong with evaluating employees on a curve, it¿s here. What¿s wrong about a company culture that only rewards results and not the truth, it¿s here. What happens to those who can¿t say yes to the boss, it¿s here. Riveting stuff and a smashing good read. You will learn all you need to know about Enron, government oversight, politics, and the rib off of share holders by everyone including a monumentally incompetent Board of Directors (these folks make the Board at Disney, ¿Disney War¿ look like positive roll models. Don¿t be put off by the book's length, I assure you that if your interested at all in the subject, at all in business, at all in how you can game the system and only get 10 years in prison, this is your book to enjoy.
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