The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron

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There were dozens of books about Watergate, but only All the President's Men gave readers the full story, with all the drama and nuance and exclusive reporting. And thirty years later, if you're going to read only one book on Watergate, that's still the one. Today, Enron is the biggest business story of our time, and Fortune senior writers Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind are the new Woodward and Bernstein.

Remarkably, it was just two years ago that Enron was thought to epitomize a great New Economy company, with its skyrocketing profits and share price. But that was before Fortune published an article by McLean that asked a seemingly innocent question: How exactly does Enron make money? From that point on, Enron's house of cards began to crumble. Now, McLean and Elkind have investigated much deeper, to offer the definitive book about the Enron scandal and the fascinating people behind it.

Meticulously researched and character driven, Smartest Guys in the Room takes the reader deep into Enron's past—and behind the closed doors of private meetings. Drawing on a wide range of unique sources, the book follows Enron's rise from obscurity to the top of the business world to its disastrous demise. It reveals as never before major characters such as Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, and Andy Fastow, as well as lesser known players like Cliff Baxter and Rebecca Mark. Smartest Guys in the Room is a story of greed, arrogance, and deceit—a microcosm of all that is wrong with American business today. Above all, it's a fascinating human drama that will prove to be the authoritative account of the Enron scandal.

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About the author

Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind are Fortune senior writers. McLean, a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, lives in New York City. Her March 2001 article in Fortune, "Is Enron Overpriced?," was the first in a national publication to openly question the company's dealings.

Peter Elkind is an award-winning investigative reporter and the author of The Death Shift. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Fortune, and Texas Monthly.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Penguin
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Published on
Nov 26, 2013
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Pages
480
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ISBN
9780698158825
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Features
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Business Ethics
Business & Economics / Corporate & Business History
Business & Economics / Economic History
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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One of the most shocking and insidious cases in the history of medicine: the crimes of one nurse were hidden by a hospital for years...

It’s 1980, and Genene Jones is working the 3 to 11 PM shift in the pediatric ICU in San Antonio's county hospital. As the weeks go by, infants under her care begin experiencing unexpected complications—and dying—in alarming numbers, prompting rumors that there is a murderer among the staff. Her eight-hour shift would come to be called “the death shift.” This strange epidemic would continue unabated for more than a year, before Jones is quietly sent off—with a good recommendation—to a rural pediatric clinic. There, eight children under her care mysteriously stopped breathing—and a 15-month-old baby girl died.

In May 1984, Jones was finally arrested, leading to a trial that revealed not only her deeply disturbed mind and a willingness to kill, but a desire to play ‘God’ with the lives of the children under her care. More shocking still, it was discovered that the hospital had shredded records and remained silent about Jones’ horrific deeds, obscuring the full extent of her spree and prompting grieving parents to ask: Why?

Elkind chronicles Jones' rampage, her trials, and the chilling aftermath of one of the most horrific crimes in America, and turns his piercing gaze onto those responsible for its cover-up. It is a tale with special relevance today, as prosecutors, distraught parents, and victims' advocates struggle to keep Jones behind bars, despite her scheduled mandatory release from a Texas prison in early 2018.

“Intriguing...A horrifying true-life medical thriller...” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Gripping...A remarkable journalistic achievement!”—NEWSWEEK

“Murder, madness, and medicine...superb!”—LIBRARY JOURNAL

“Shocking...true crime reporting at its most compelling.”—BOOKLIST
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.
"Hell is empty, and
all the devils are here."
-Shakespeare, The Tempest

As soon as the financial crisis erupted, the finger-pointing began. Should the blame fall on Wall Street, Main Street, or Pennsylvania Avenue? On greedy traders, misguided regulators, sleazy subprime companies, cowardly legislators, or clueless home buyers?

According to Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, two of America's most acclaimed business journalists, the real answer is all of the above-and more. Many devils helped bring hell to the economy. And the full story, in all of its complexity and detail, is like the legend of the blind men and the elephant. Almost everyone has missed the big picture. Almost no one has put all the pieces together.

All the Devils Are Here goes back several decades to weave the hidden history of the financial crisis in a way no previous book has done. It explores the motivations of everyone from famous CEOs, cabinet secretaries, and politicians to anonymous lenders, borrowers, analysts, and Wall Street traders. It delves into the powerful American mythology of homeownership. And it proves that the crisis ultimately wasn't about finance at all; it was about human nature.

Among the devils you'll meet in vivid detail:

• Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide, who dreamed of spreading homeownership to the masses, only to succumb to the peer pressure-and the outsized profits-of the sleaziest subprime lending.

• Roland Arnall, a respected philanthropist and diplomat, who made his fortune building Ameriquest, a subprime lending empire that relied on blatantly deceptive lending practices.

• Hank Greenberg, who built AIG into a Rube Goldberg contraption with an undeserved triple-A rating, and who ran it so tightly that he was the only one who knew where all the bodies were buried.

• Stan O'Neal of Merrill Lynch, aloof and suspicious, who suffered from "Goldman envy" and drove a proud old firm into the ground by promoting cronies and pushing out his smartest lieutenants.

• Lloyd Blankfein, who helped turn Goldman Sachs from a culture that famously put clients first to one that made clients secondary to its own bottom line.

• Franklin Raines of Fannie Mae, who (like his predecessors) bullied regulators into submission and let his firm drift away from its original, noble mission.

• Brian Clarkson of Moody's, who aggressively pushed to increase his rating agency's market share and stock price, at the cost of its integrity.

• Alan Greenspan, the legendary maestro of the Federal Reserve, who ignored the evidence of a growing housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the lending practices that ultimately brought down Wall Street-and inflicted enormous pain on the country.

Just as McLean's The Smartest Guys in the Room was hailed as the best Enron book on a crowded shelf, so will All the Devils Are Here be remembered for finally making sense of the meltdown and its consequences.

"Hell is empty, and
all the devils are here."
-Shakespeare, The Tempest

As soon as the financial crisis erupted, the finger-pointing began. Should the blame fall on Wall Street, Main Street, or Pennsylvania Avenue? On greedy traders, misguided regulators, sleazy subprime companies, cowardly legislators, or clueless home buyers?

According to Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera, two of America's most acclaimed business journalists, the real answer is all of the above-and more. Many devils helped bring hell to the economy. And the full story, in all of its complexity and detail, is like the legend of the blind men and the elephant. Almost everyone has missed the big picture. Almost no one has put all the pieces together.

All the Devils Are Here goes back several decades to weave the hidden history of the financial crisis in a way no previous book has done. It explores the motivations of everyone from famous CEOs, cabinet secretaries, and politicians to anonymous lenders, borrowers, analysts, and Wall Street traders. It delves into the powerful American mythology of homeownership. And it proves that the crisis ultimately wasn't about finance at all; it was about human nature.

Among the devils you'll meet in vivid detail:

• Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide, who dreamed of spreading homeownership to the masses, only to succumb to the peer pressure-and the outsized profits-of the sleaziest subprime lending.

• Roland Arnall, a respected philanthropist and diplomat, who made his fortune building Ameriquest, a subprime lending empire that relied on blatantly deceptive lending practices.

• Hank Greenberg, who built AIG into a Rube Goldberg contraption with an undeserved triple-A rating, and who ran it so tightly that he was the only one who knew where all the bodies were buried.

• Stan O'Neal of Merrill Lynch, aloof and suspicious, who suffered from "Goldman envy" and drove a proud old firm into the ground by promoting cronies and pushing out his smartest lieutenants.

• Lloyd Blankfein, who helped turn Goldman Sachs from a culture that famously put clients first to one that made clients secondary to its own bottom line.

• Franklin Raines of Fannie Mae, who (like his predecessors) bullied regulators into submission and let his firm drift away from its original, noble mission.

• Brian Clarkson of Moody's, who aggressively pushed to increase his rating agency's market share and stock price, at the cost of its integrity.

• Alan Greenspan, the legendary maestro of the Federal Reserve, who ignored the evidence of a growing housing bubble and turned a blind eye to the lending practices that ultimately brought down Wall Street-and inflicted enormous pain on the country.

Just as McLean's The Smartest Guys in the Room was hailed as the best Enron book on a crowded shelf, so will All the Devils Are Here be remembered for finally making sense of the meltdown and its consequences.

One of the most shocking and insidious cases in the history of medicine: the crimes of one nurse were hidden by a hospital for years...

It’s 1980, and Genene Jones is working the 3 to 11 PM shift in the pediatric ICU in San Antonio's county hospital. As the weeks go by, infants under her care begin experiencing unexpected complications—and dying—in alarming numbers, prompting rumors that there is a murderer among the staff. Her eight-hour shift would come to be called “the death shift.” This strange epidemic would continue unabated for more than a year, before Jones is quietly sent off—with a good recommendation—to a rural pediatric clinic. There, eight children under her care mysteriously stopped breathing—and a 15-month-old baby girl died.

In May 1984, Jones was finally arrested, leading to a trial that revealed not only her deeply disturbed mind and a willingness to kill, but a desire to play ‘God’ with the lives of the children under her care. More shocking still, it was discovered that the hospital had shredded records and remained silent about Jones’ horrific deeds, obscuring the full extent of her spree and prompting grieving parents to ask: Why?

Elkind chronicles Jones' rampage, her trials, and the chilling aftermath of one of the most horrific crimes in America, and turns his piercing gaze onto those responsible for its cover-up. It is a tale with special relevance today, as prosecutors, distraught parents, and victims' advocates struggle to keep Jones behind bars, despite her scheduled mandatory release from a Texas prison in early 2018.

“Intriguing...A horrifying true-life medical thriller...” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Gripping...A remarkable journalistic achievement!”—NEWSWEEK

“Murder, madness, and medicine...superb!”—LIBRARY JOURNAL

“Shocking...true crime reporting at its most compelling.”—BOOKLIST
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