The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust

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The inside story of Bernie Madoff and his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, with surprising and shocking new details from Madoff himself.

Who is Bernie Madoff, and how did he pull off the biggest Ponzi scheme in history?

These questions have fascinated people ever since the news broke about the respected New York financier who swindled his friends, relatives, and other investors out of $65 billion through a fraud that lasted for decades. Many have speculated about what might have happened or what must have happened, but no reporter has been able to get the full story -- until now.

In The Wizard of Lies, Diana B. Henriques of The New York Times -- who has led the paper's coverage of the Madoff scandal since the day the story broke -- has written the definitive book on the man and his scheme, drawing on unprecedented access and more than one hundred interviews with people at all levels and on all sides of the crime, including Madoff's first interviews for publication since his arrest. Henriques also provides vivid details from the various lawsuits, government investigations, and court filings that will explode the myths that have come to surround the story.

A true-life financial thriller, The Wizard of Lies contrasts Madoff's remarkable rise on Wall Street, where he became one of the country's most trusted and respected traders, with dramatic scenes from his accelerating slide toward self-destruction. It is also the most complete account of the heartbreaking personal disasters and landmark legal battles triggered by Madoff's downfall -- the suicides, business failures, fractured families, shuttered charities -- and the clear lessons this timeless scandal offers to Washington, Wall Street, and Main Street.

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About the author

Diana B. Henriques is the author of The White Sharks of Wall Street and Fidelity's World. She is a senior financial writer for The New York Times, having joined the Times staff in 1989. A Polk Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist, she has won several awards for her work on the Times's coverage of the Madoff scandal and was part of the team recognized as a Pulitzer finalist for its coverage of the financial crisis of 2008. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Macmillan
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Published on
Apr 26, 2011
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9781429973717
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Investments & Securities / General
True Crime / White Collar Crime
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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How America fell for financier Bernie Madoff's $65 billion investment scam.

It was luxurious Palm Beach, by the manicured lawns and Olympic-sized swimming pool, that financier Bernard Madoff ravaged the world of philanthropy and high society he had strived so hard to join, vaporising the assets of charities, foundations and individuals that had trusted him with their funds. It seems nothing was sacrosanct to Madoff, possibly the greatest con-man in history. Even Elie Wiesel's foundation has lost tens of millions. How could Madoff, a pillar of the Jewish community, do this to a Nobel Laureate and Auschwitz survivor? But Wiesel was hardly alone in trusting the rogue financier. How could some of the most sophisticated and worldly people in America fall victim to a collective delusion for year after year?

THE BELIEVERS answers these unsettling questions. It opens up the clubbish world where Madoff operated, tracing the links from Palm Beach and The Hamptons to the salons and clubs of Manhattan society. It details the network of relationships across which flows hundreds of millions of dollars. 'The Believers' shows how despite material success and acclaim, some human impulses remain eternal. It reveals how an underlying sense of insecurity still shapes some of the richest and most successful individuals in America, making them crave ever more status and peer acclaim. By focusing on Madoff's connection to, and catastrophic impact on, the American Jewish community, THE BELIEVERS dramatically humanises a story that is part financial scandal and part Greek tragedy.

What drives wealthy and powerful people to white-collar crime? Why They Do It is a breakthrough look at the dark side of the business world.

From the financial fraudsters of Enron, to the embezzlers at Tyco, to the insider traders at McKinsey, to the Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff, the failings of corporate titans are regular fixtures in the news. In Why They Do It, Harvard Business School professor Eugene Soltes draws from extensive personal interaction and correspondence with nearly fifty former executives as well as the latest research in psychology, criminology, and economics to investigate how once-celebrated executives become white-collar criminals.

White-collar criminals are not merely driven by excessive greed or hubris, nor do they usually carefully calculate costs and benefits before breaking the law. Instead, Soltes shows that most of the executives who committed crimes made decisions the way we all do-on the basis of their intuitions and gut feelings. The trouble is that these gut feelings are often poorly suited for the modern business world where leaders are increasingly distanced from the consequences of their decisions and the individuals they impact.

The extraordinary costs of corporate misconduct are clear to its victims. Yet, never before have we been able to peer so deeply into the minds of the many prominent perpetrators of white-collar crime. With the increasing globalization of business threatening us with even more devastating corporate misconduct, the lessons Soltes draws in Why They Do It are needed more urgently than ever.
How could a two-bit investor, too paralyzed with fear to trade stocks, bilk insurance companies out of $200 million?
How could a gawky misfit with an obsessive terror of germs induce a harem of attractive young women to feud over him?
How could a recluse from Toledo, Ohio, penetrate the circles of political and financial power in Washington, D.C., and New York City without leaving his house?
How could a Jewish guy with a passion for S&M sex persuade the Vatican to go into business with him?
And how could he do all this without anybody noticing?

Now the whole amazing story of how Martin Frankel pulled off one of the greatest financial scams of the century is revealed by The Wall Street Journal's Ellen Joan Pollock, who was a lead writer on the reporting team that broke story after story as Frankel eluded the FBI's four-month international manhunt.
The Pretender chronicles how a bumbling thirty year old used his financial skills to build an intricate Ponzi scheme based on lies and his amazing gift for luring businessmen -- including Democratic powerbroker Robert Strauss -- into his web. Frankel's stolen millions allowed him to transform himself easily from mama's boy to corporate mogul. His creation of a phony Catholic charity drew the interest of priests with close Vatican ties as well as a new group of mysterious business partners. But his attempts to go "global" proved more challenging and aroused the suspicions of state regulators. Frantic that his empire was about to unravel, Frankel vanished from his multimillion-dollar Greenwich, Connecticut, mansion, leaving behind a mysterious fire, a dozen or so heartbroken women, and some very confused law-enforcement officials. His bizarre scamper through Europe as a fugitive would ultimately climax in a German hotel room.
Frankel's world was peopled with desperate businessmen, well-heeled con artists, women looking for love, vindictive husbands, diamond merchants, private eyes -- the whole colorful cast of characters that propelled this fast-moving drama.
The Pretender is filled with countless revelations from business associates and former lovers -- many of whom were interviewed for the first time for this book. What finally makes The Pretender so compelling is that it is a snapshot of a peculiar moment in business history. Just as figures like Ivan Boesky and Michael Milken epitomized the deal-crazed eighties, Martin Frankel is the quintessential criminal of the millionaire-a-minute nineties.
In December 2008, the world watched as master financier Bernard L. Madoff was taken away from his posh Manhattan apartment in handcuffs, accused of swindling thousands of innocent victims-including friends and family-out of billions of dollars in the world's largest Ponzi scheme. Madoff went to jail; he will spend the rest of his life there. But what happened to his devoted wife and sons? The people closest to him, the public reasoned, must have known the truth behind his astounding success. Had they been tricked, too?

With unprecedented access to the surviving family members-wife Ruth, son Andrew and his fiancée Catherine Hooper-journalist Laurie Sandell reveals the personal details behind the headlines. How did Andrew and Mark, the sons who'd spent their lives believing in and building their own families around their father's business first learn of the massive deception? How does a wife, who adored her husband since they were teenagers, begin to understand the ramifications of his actions? The Madoffs were a tight-knit-even claustrophobic-clan, sticking together through marriages, divorces, and illnesses. But the pressures of enduring the massive scandal push them to their breaking points, most of all son Mark, whose suicide is one of the many tragedies that grew in the wake of the scandal.

Muzzled by lawyers, vilified by the media and roundly condemned by the public, the Madoffs have chosen to keep their silence-until now. Ultimately, theirs is one of the most riveting stories of our time: a modern-day Greek tragedy about money, power, lies, family, truth and consequences.
It almost seems that Thomas Mellon Evans was a man so far ahead of his contemporaries that he had moved into the shadows before the full force of his business style had dawned on the rest of corporate America. At every step in his career, he was barging in where few would follow -- at first. But follow they did, at last."
-- from the Prologue

The first in-depth portrait of the life and times of the trailblazing financier Thomas Mellon Evans -- the man who pursued wealth and power in the 1950s with a brash ruthlessness that forever changed the face of corporate America.

Long before Michael Milken was using junk bonds to finance corporate takeovers, Thomas Mellon Evans used debt, cash, and the tax code to obtain control of more than eighty American companies. Long before investors began to lobby for "shareholder's rights," Evans was demanding that public companies be run only for their shareholders -- not for their employees, their executives, or their surrounding communities. To some, Evans's merciless style presaged much that is wrong with corporate life today. To others, he intuitively knew what was needed to keep America competitive in the wake of a global war.
In The White Sharks of Wall Street, New York Times investigative reporter Diana Henriques provides the first biography of this pivotal figure in American business history. She also portrays the other pioneering corporate raiders of the postwar period, such as Robert Young and Louis Wolfson, and shows how these men learned from one another and advanced one another's takeover tactics. She relates in dramatic detail a number of important early takeover fights -- Wolfson's challenge to Montgomery Ward, Young's move on the New York Central Railroad, the fight for Follansbee Steel -- and shows how they foreshadowed the desperate battle waged by Tom Evans's son, Ned Evans, to keep the British raider Robert Maxwell away from his Macmillan publishing empire during the 1980s. Henriques also reaches beyond the business arena to tally the tragic personal cost of Evans's pursuit of success and to show how the family dynasty shattered when his sons were driven by his own stubbornness and pride to become his rivals. In the end, the battling patriarch faced his youngest son in a poignant battle for control at the Crane Company, the once-famous Chicago plumbing and valve company that Tom Evans had himself seized in a brilliant takeover coup twenty-five years earlier.
The White Sharks of Wall Street is a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary man, whose career blazed across the sky and then sank into obscurity -- but not before he had provided the template for how American business would operate for the next four decades.
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