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

Written by: Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind

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

N Islam
This was a long read. It goes into a lot of depth with regards to everyone that was involved in the who Enron fiasco. But, the fact remains that at the end of the day, the fault lies with the way in which the accounting was managed.

There should've been more whistle blowers especially from the accounting side of things. However, the real culprit here was Skilling. Fastow, the CFO was merely a means through which he inflated the stock price. The ridiculous corporate culture that he had created res This was a long read. It goes into a lot of depth with regards to everyone that was involved in the who Enron fiasco. But, the fact remains that at the end of the day, the fault lies with the way in which the accounting was managed.

There should've been more whistle blowers especially from the accounting side of things. However, the real culprit here was Skilling. Fastow, the CFO was merely a means through which he inflated the stock price. The ridiculous corporate culture that he had created resulted in what happened to Enron, with greed running rampant. This should be a case for never hiring McKinsey to do anything since they have a distorted world view.

At the end of the day, this was a good read, that went into a lot of detail. I just wish it chose the narrative of a key whistle blower and followed him or her through the whole thing. I think the book would've been a more personalized tale.
Jeramey
Over a decade later, and it’s still just as relevant. Still shocking how people got away with what is clearly fraud for so long.

A welcome update might be to study if new accounting rules post-Enron have improved things.
Marsha Breazeale
I worked right down the street from the Enron building for several years before and during its implosion. Some of my colleagues whom I'd known for years, that I attended NADOA conferences and local HADOA luncheons with, worked for Enron at the time and were devastated emotionally, financially, and professionally when those scuzzbag dirtballs in the executive suite destroyed that company. Many people don't know that Enron transferred its most lucrative assets, its offshore Gulf of Mexico wells, i I worked right down the street from the Enron building for several years before and during its implosion. Some of my colleagues whom I'd known for years, that I attended NADOA conferences and local HADOA luncheons with, worked for Enron at the time and were devastated emotionally, financially, and professionally when those scuzzbag dirtballs in the executive suite destroyed that company. Many people don't know that Enron transferred its most lucrative assets, its offshore Gulf of Mexico wells, into a fund they internally nicknamed the "The Yoda Fund," a name inspired by Star Wars. In public documents the fund was called Mariner Energy. The Fund was valued at over $1 Billion the day before bankruptcy was filed. Investors bought Mariner in 2004 from the bankruptcy trustee for a mere $100 million while it was valued at more than $250 million by the bankruptcy court. Just 6 years later, in April of 2010, Apache Corporation--the company I was working for at the time--bought Mariner through merger, for $3.4 Billion--that's with a "b"--turning a whopping 3,300% profit! That was a 550%-per-year return on their 6-year investment!!

My jaw rested on the floor almost the entire time it took me to read this book--3 days, because I couldn't put it down. All of it happened right under my nose while I was working down the street for Calpine Natural Gas Company, a company sucked down by the Enron collapse because they essentially were in bed with Enron. I bailed and landed another division order analyst job elsewhere before Calpine filed for bankruptcy. This world is entirely too small.
Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History :: His Excellency: George Washington :: The High Window :: Goldfish :: Hairs/Pelitos
Bryce Wong
This book offers its readers a peek into the lives of Enron’s masterminds, graphically describing the events leading up to their demise. What first started out as a winning formula to earning truckloads of cash from trading soon culminated into a series of accounting frauds, lies, and deceptions to deceive the public into thinking that they were actually successful despite racking up huge debts. Think of Enron as the mother of energy back in its heydays. They had assets that were comparable if n This book offers its readers a peek into the lives of Enron’s masterminds, graphically describing the events leading up to their demise. What first started out as a winning formula to earning truckloads of cash from trading soon culminated into a series of accounting frauds, lies, and deceptions to deceive the public into thinking that they were actually successful despite racking up huge debts. Think of Enron as the mother of energy back in its heydays. They had assets that were comparable if not better than Exxon, Chevron and BP combined. They thought they had it all when they started biting off more than they could chew, and slowly slipped till there was no more turning back. The heads of Enron made some very poor decisions that decided their fate. Had they chose not to venture into businesses that they have very little experience over, I am sure that they would at least still be hobbling along today. To be able to understand this book in its entirety, one has to have at least a decent accounting knowledge to be able to comprehend the complex accounting structures described, which may seem foreign to the layman. To describe the brains behind the scandal as intelligent would be a serious understatement. I feel that a lot of what went through the whole “cover up” process through special purpose entities and mark-to-market accounting, could perhaps be channeled towards building up the actual natural gas business. All in all, this book is an excellent work that provides much insight into how financial regimes influence the actions of the leaders in Enron.
Katherine
This book takes accounting fraud so complex that Wall Street write large didn't understand it for years and boils it down in a way that is understandable and, more surprisingly, fairly riveting. I am a bit of a junkie for this kind of story (I'd really like to be a prosecutor of white collar crime, I think), but the writers do a pretty incredible job, and given what a major issue Enron has been in our economy, in the law, and in the regulation of corporations, I think this is a worthwhile read f This book takes accounting fraud so complex that Wall Street write large didn't understand it for years and boils it down in a way that is understandable and, more surprisingly, fairly riveting. I am a bit of a junkie for this kind of story (I'd really like to be a prosecutor of white collar crime, I think), but the writers do a pretty incredible job, and given what a major issue Enron has been in our economy, in the law, and in the regulation of corporations, I think this is a worthwhile read for pretty much anyone. It's also especially interesting to think about in light of the mortgage crisis and everything that went down in the sub-prime market and with the big financial institutions that have collapsed or taken big hits. Enron and Michael Miliken defined the genre, but sometimes it's easy to feel like the lessons get learned over and over again. My only criticisms of the book are that sometimes they're a bit eager to pass judgment, but as journalists who spent a lot of time investigating Enron, it's not too hard to see why that would be.
Billy Keene
I normally won't write a review but for this masterpiece I will make an exception. This book goes into great detail profiling the giant behometh known as Enron and the genius behind its marketing, product, and accounting structure which later turned out to be a pure illusion. The scope and breadth of the research involved was enjoyable to read. I especially enjoyed the way the characters were able to relate to and the author did a great job highlighting Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling's "Win-At I normally won't write a review but for this masterpiece I will make an exception. This book goes into great detail profiling the giant behometh known as Enron and the genius behind its marketing, product, and accounting structure which later turned out to be a pure illusion. The scope and breadth of the research involved was enjoyable to read. I especially enjoyed the way the characters were able to relate to and the author did a great job highlighting Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling's "Win-At-All-Costs" mantra which trickled down throughout the company. The systematic failure highlighted in the book displays corruption with Arthur Anderson and on up the scale. My only knock on the book would be some complex accounting structures described which seem foreign to anyone who isn't a CPA, but this is a minor detail. This book in a lot of ways reminds me of "And the Band Played On" because of the exhaustive research involved. I had always heard good things and was definitely "late to the party." A must-read for anyone regardless of specific genre types.
Curtis
The authors did a great job providing background information on the major players at Enron (Lay, Skilling, Fastow, Baxter, Kinder, etc) that was personally interesting and enjoyable. Toward the end of the book I actually felt sorry for some of these players, given that Skilling and Lay were both so intelligent and had been immensely successful throughout their careers yet threw it all away with their fraudulent actions. The details of a lot of Enron's major business operations, transactions, and The authors did a great job providing background information on the major players at Enron (Lay, Skilling, Fastow, Baxter, Kinder, etc) that was personally interesting and enjoyable. Toward the end of the book I actually felt sorry for some of these players, given that Skilling and Lay were both so intelligent and had been immensely successful throughout their careers yet threw it all away with their fraudulent actions. The details of a lot of Enron's major business operations, transactions, and contracts are also explained in great (if not overly-complicated) detail.

I was in 4th grade when Enron declared bankruptcy and never understood the significance of the Enron/Andersen scandals, and how these scandals affected the US business sector. As an accounting graduate and oil and gas buff, I loved this book and recommend it to anyone interested in accounting, the oil and gas/energy sector, and business in general.
Ellenw
It's hard for me to explain why I like this book so much. It's not just that I was very interested in the market manipulations by Enron during the California energy crisis (having been an intern in Governor Davis's press office for a few months of that) and this book does a great job of explaining that, but rather the people involved in the Enron scandal are *fascinating*.

This book can be a tough read- this was a purposefully complex scandal and I'm still only sort of sure what happened, but th It's hard for me to explain why I like this book so much. It's not just that I was very interested in the market manipulations by Enron during the California energy crisis (having been an intern in Governor Davis's press office for a few months of that) and this book does a great job of explaining that, but rather the people involved in the Enron scandal are *fascinating*.

This book can be a tough read- this was a purposefully complex scandal and I'm still only sort of sure what happened, but the book is clear enough that a reader can get through it without an accounting background.

The only real problem I can see with this book is that a reader might get so slimed out by the people that they throw the book across the room. Which is reasonable. This is not a good book if smarmy corruption makes you angry.
Richard
Very well done piece, especially when keeping mind what would happen about 5-6 years later on Wall Street. A story of some very intelligent, but also very greedy and ruthless individuals who seemed to really believe they were running an excellent business while all the while committing what basically amounted to fraud for an extended period. The book reads quickly and while it does include some technical elements, specifically in the finance/accounting fields, it does provide explanations for th Very well done piece, especially when keeping mind what would happen about 5-6 years later on Wall Street. A story of some very intelligent, but also very greedy and ruthless individuals who seemed to really believe they were running an excellent business while all the while committing what basically amounted to fraud for an extended period. The book reads quickly and while it does include some technical elements, specifically in the finance/accounting fields, it does provide explanations for those, like me, who are not familiar with such matters. The authors also do a nice job of giving you a good idea of the personalities of the main individuals involved and their motivations to do pursue some of the decisions that they made. Certainly one of the better current events/business books I've read.
Downward
an in depth view of the financial scandal that many of us recognize by name but are a little blurry on the details. as it stands, that hasn't changed but through no fault of the author's. this book is packed tight with info that plays at a pitch i can't really hear. it's an indictment of an american system that gets away with things through making them so complicated that nobody wants to check, and so they just assume that nobody is ripping anybody off. if people just did their jobs, we'd be muc an in depth view of the financial scandal that many of us recognize by name but are a little blurry on the details. as it stands, that hasn't changed but through no fault of the author's. this book is packed tight with info that plays at a pitch i can't really hear. it's an indictment of an american system that gets away with things through making them so complicated that nobody wants to check, and so they just assume that nobody is ripping anybody off. if people just did their jobs, we'd be much better off. to me, this book was most compelling when we were focusing on skilling, lay, mark, and others and their personalities amd how those personalities functioned in the bloody, shark infested waters of wall street.
Kevin Manriquez
Enron used to be the model organization in the United States years ago, but once the individual benefits became more important than actually growing in a licit way, the fall was a matter of time, because the personal avarice and pride of some men blinded the reality and their catastrophic future.

It is a nice lesson, honesty and transparency will always be the best way to develop an enterprise and getting benefits not only for the chairman but also for the customers.

Neither you should never go ag Enron used to be the model organization in the United States years ago, but once the individual benefits became more important than actually growing in a licit way, the fall was a matter of time, because the personal avarice and pride of some men blinded the reality and their catastrophic future.

It is a nice lesson, honesty and transparency will always be the best way to develop an enterprise and getting benefits not only for the chairman but also for the customers.

Neither you should never go against the legal way nor cheat to your customers, because consequences are badly unpredictable but awful for both sides of the coin.
Pranav Shrestha
This book is incredibly detailed. Even the smartest guys can be wrong, especially when you are self deluded that nothing can go wrong. This book shows the important of a corporate culture, it ain't just about the numbers! Though I am a public accountant(India) student myself, the sophisticated accounting-technical frauds that Enron committed is too hard to understand. I think Bethany McLean & Peter Elkind have done an incredible job trying to simplify them and working on the details of the c This book is incredibly detailed. Even the smartest guys can be wrong, especially when you are self deluded that nothing can go wrong. This book shows the important of a corporate culture, it ain't just about the numbers! Though I am a public accountant(India) student myself, the sophisticated accounting-technical frauds that Enron committed is too hard to understand. I think Bethany McLean & Peter Elkind have done an incredible job trying to simplify them and working on the details of the case and yet presenting them in an interesting manner.
Dave
Like many books about financial chicanery, this book is fascinating to read, but incredibly difficult to understand. I suppose if I were an accountant or a lawyer or an economist or something I would understand a bit more about what was going on, but my mind being what it is, I read about the colossal amounts of money that seem to appear from thin air and am amazed that such things can happen.

What a world we live in....
Kate
If you scratch your head trying figure out all of these acronyms in finance, it's worth going back and reading about some of the boys who took off-balance sheet transactions to a whole new level. So much has been written about the rise and fall of Enron, but this book does it succinctly and at a layman's level. Plus they give you the whole People magazine backstory on these traders, including the names of the strip clubs in Houston the frequented and Ken Lay's difficult childhood.
Kelley M
Definitely not even close to as good as "All the Presidents Men" (can't believe that is actually a reference in the description!) but a decent depiction of all of the chaos that went on at Enron. Drags and is repetitive at times. We get it. There were a ton of off balance sheet SPEs and the businesses that they were sinking money into were all terrible. Could have been 100 pages shorter. Wish that there was more description of the whistle blowing.
Raine
We were asked to watch the documentary for our business ethics class and I was intrigued enough that I decided to read the book itself.

Enron itself is a black box so kudos to the writers of this book. They were able to tell the story and hit the important points. Some of it were above my head already even though I am an accounting and economics graduate but that is a testament to the complexity of what they were doing at Enron than a testament about the writing.
Sarah
A VERY good book on the rise and fall of Enron, the book still makes a few assumptions about the reader. Such as moderate understanding of accounting practices and the financial climate of the late 80's to early 00's. If you don't know either (such as myself) you can find yourself lost when they are talking about some of the more complicated aspects (Or even the simplier ones) of the Enron scandal.
James
Very interesting on so many levels. I heard a talk from a former Enron exec a couple years back and she talked up this book. She toted up how much Enron was working on HR improvements and how great of a company it was to work for.

Although long at times, I kept wanting to extend my drive to hear what other newfangled sh*& they were going to try next. And then to hear what they were making in profits just to support the growth of the stock through OBS entities. WOW, just WOW.

Matt
This book in on the story of enron. I knew about enron but I thought it was time that I read a full thing on the subject. The book was probably too much information that I needed but I was able to get through it fast enough that it did not matter.

The story is told in such a way as to make it relatable and character driven. It goes in to some detail on the specifics and stuff but I think I could have gone for a little more detail on some of the stuff that they did to hide the debt.
Bob
The story of Enron, from its beginning to its downfall. Very comprehensive and accurate coverage of this incredible story. Even now, over a decade after the bankruptcy, it is still difficult to believe those guys thought they could pull this off. Or that they were able to build their house of cards to such an extent.
Joseph Cubby
This books is like reading the old testament of business. A must read for MBA students. Mr Mckinsey and Ms Anderson had an affair and produced a very bright son called Enron who grew up into a bad boy, who then got the death penalty for his sins. Ms Anderson was sentenced not to have any more children but Mr Mckinsey escaped any blame and is still running around making bright babies.
Lisa
While the information is interesting this is a slog of a book. With no motivation for why you should care the insider story has too many random numbers and not enough context or overarching themes/story lines. Soon those who remember the Eron crash will be gone and this won't help them really understand what happened unless they are an economist.
Renata Janney
I'm not much of a finance person so I had a hard time understanding everything, but it does a good job detailing the overall culture that allowed Enron to do what it did. I loved the documentary based off this book, but this book had much more ambiguous conclusions I felt than the movie, which I always like to see in a book.
Mbogo J
Ok I agree the Enron fraternity was a bunch of thugs but i cant help but wonder, the only reason this guys are vilified is because they failed, both Enron and Steve Jobs started by selling hubristic ventures to the world, the diff is that Jobs succeeded and is now considered an icon while ken lay and his cohorts failed and are now synonymous to fraud.
Dio Aufa Handoyo
An incredibly detailed account that shows how much you can get away with in a raging bull market. The detailed depiction of Enron SPEs and other off-balance sheet vehicles show just how convoluted corporate finance can be, augmented with shady accounting, and the difficulty of subsequent prosecutions (even though the defendants were clearly involved in wrongdoings) speaks loudly to this fact.
Mark
A really great explanation of what went on with a lot more detail than the film it answers a lot of the questions I had. However there are a lot of characters moving around so it can be a little difficult to keep track of who is who. That's just the nature of the story though and not a problem with the writing.
Netta
This book did a great job of showing the reader how complicated Enron's dealings were, and how the misleading financial statements happened. It recognized the complexity, gave an in-depth introduction to the major players, and avoided placing blame on anyone, and showed how Enron should not have been able top get away with everything as long as it did. Great, engaging read!
Dan Cohen

A very good exposition of the rise and fall on Enron. The characterisations of key figures such as Lay and Skilling are good. although Fastow's character evades explanation. I also enjoyed the sections on Rebecca Mark and others, and the authors do a good job of conveying the prevailing pressures and attitudes within Enron and Arthur Anderson. An excellent read.
Elena
Amazing book. Absolutely sweeping in scope, with a character focus that makes Enron's machinations make sense, kind of, if you accept that most of the upper level execs were both greedy and delusional. This was engrossing and the building sense of dread I felt as I kept reading was really SOMETHING ELSE. Good explanations of insane financial structures, too.
SallyStenger
Illustrates the risks a preoccupance with growth over execution can lead to. A strong cautionary tale of the impact of accounting registrations "mark to market" on business representation. The book strongly reinforces the absent absoluteness of any rule when context is wilfully ignored.
Eric
Hey, I know people in this book, too! I went to high school with the first guy from Enron who got sent to prison. And for a while my father in law, who worked briefly at Enron, was Jeff Skilling's boss. This is a great book about a bunch of criminals.
Doug Taylor
Great business book and a good study of greed, arrogance, and mendacity. It gets a little into the weeds and I got lost trying to understand the financial instruments and nuances of off-balance-sheet debt. Still a solid read.
J
Well written, well researched book about the Enron fiasco. There are parts that might be a bit detailed and accounting/business focused for the general populace, but this is wonderful investigative reporting.
S.D. Curran
Unlike the film, this presents an unbiased view of what happened with Enron from its early years all the way on through the crisis. While the end of the book does not focus on the congressional hearings, this is in part because they were still underway when the book was being written.
Quinn
This was a great book. It pays so much attention to detail with the characters and it is an amazing story. Learn from our mistakes. They were at the top of the world, suddenly everything goes downhill.
Deborahanndilley
If I had read this before I was an accounting student, I wouldn't have been an outraged. This was excellently written and I enjoyed it greatly. Although I think that I will always be shocked at the displays of unbridled greed of Enron's employees.
J Brown
Wheelin', dealing' and cover ups. This book sheds light into the lives and lifestyles of the big wigs of Enron and how they found themselves in one of the most infamous corporate collapses of the turn of the century.
Spencer
I'm a sucker for a story about interesting people and hubris. This has endless amounts of both. At times it could be pedantic with accounting principles, however don't lose sight of the motivations, people, and culture behind the numbers.
Heiko Jonkers
Corporate greed and stunning incompetence laid bare

A must read for anybody interested in corporate culture and the true behind the scenes environment of corporate America and the Wall Street enablers that allow such events to take place. Well written page turner.
Tom Divine
Everyone who lives in Houston should read this book. You'll be surprised at how many people worked at Enron and how much of an impact the company and its executives had on the city. The book is well written and its amazing that the Enron executives actually did these things.
Daniel Farrell
Excellent book about an amazing series of events. It really is shocking some of the things that were allowed to happen with the Enron saga. It's almost impressive how Enron got away with it for so many years.
Clarissa
Way too detailed on the characters. The 1st couple of chapters and the last two could provide enough information on why it all happened. Definitely, a lesson how not to run a business, how not to trust all the time and how investing in stock of only one company it is not a good idea.
Patrick Bagarozza
Like a crime novel. Well written and interesting.
Janet
Capitalism gone very, very crazy. Or was it just plain greed?
auntie
This is just one of the greatest books about the pre-crash crash, the idiocy of deregulation, and the depths of human greed. I've read it about 8 or 9 times, I just love it.
Jayme Last
A comprehensive but slightly arcane history of the rise & fall of Enron. The details are a little beyond a total layperson but all in all an interesting narrative.
Dude-von Dudenstein
amazing story and probably the best written account of it.
Jamie
This was a page-turner for me. It blows my mind that Enron held on as long as they did.
Amy Smallwood-ringenberg
Complex, but fascinating look at corporate America. Frightening how "money" becomes abstract and no longer concrete.
Dave Greek
A little too into the weeds on the accounting issues, but i suppose i should have expected that, as it is a book about a company with sketchy accounting methods...
Neil Crocker
An excellent and readable history of Enron and its demise.
Kevin Larsen
A good overall picture of the award-winning company that was actually losing money at an astounding rate. How it could happen and did happen.
Cynthia Judkins
I found this subject facinating- the movie is pretty good too.
Deepak Tanna
Fact is often stranger than fiction, and this book uncovers how greed makes seemingly intelligent men insane and irresponsible.
TJ
Very well written and informative. A balanced view of what happens when executive incentives and compensation are misaligned with what is right.
Jason
As entertaining as it is educational. Generations from now will want to read this book in order to get a clear understanding of what went down at Enron and why we can't let it happen again.
Steve
Stunning book. Audacity, lies, and Greed built on the dot com bubble.
John_l
Not always easy to read....but a very digestible account of the culture, what went wrong..and most importantly - why.
Tristan
Very very comprehensive review of Enron. Well written, thorough, & objective. Does exactly what it claims to do. Excellent.
Greg
a little long winded but gets it's point across.
B
Yes, it was "amazing" how far they got by cleverly stretching the boundaries of financial reporting and then some. In depth reporting and very understandable.
Justin Brenden
Old news but a must read for anyone in the business world. Well written and fast paced.
Shannon Cole
Great book - these guys were scumbags. A great book a must read
Suresh Ramaswamy
After reading “The Smartest Guys in the Room” the only conclusion that can be reached is “The’ CROOKED E’ is just that - it is CROOK ‘E’..........D”. The accounting manipulation and web of deceit makes one forget all about the precept and practice of accountancy one learnt in the college / professional courses.”Mark to Market” accounting and that too to manufacturing and service activities – wow to Jeff Skilling. The meaning of SPE (Special Purpose Entity) is just that – Andy Fastow made it appa After reading “The Smartest Guys in the Room” the only conclusion that can be reached is “The’ CROOKED E’ is just that - it is CROOK ‘E’..........D”. The accounting manipulation and web of deceit makes one forget all about the precept and practice of accountancy one learnt in the college / professional courses.”Mark to Market” accounting and that too to manufacturing and service activities – wow to Jeff Skilling. The meaning of SPE (Special Purpose Entity) is just that – Andy Fastow made it apparently clear. ‘Conflict of Interest’ - what species of creature is that? All in all if Enron Imploded it very well deserved to – one is only sorry for the employees who lost out – their job, their bonuses and their retirement plan. Arthur Andersen of the Big Five audit firms deserved to be buried and they were. Signing off on all chicanery for a fistful of dollars, they were the pits of Auditing profession and independent auditors. The book highlights the evils of unregulated deregulation and free market greed.

In India today big Government banks – Punjab National Bank, Bank of Baroda, Oriental Bank of Commerce and Canara Bank – are hit by a spate of frauds amounting to several billion dollars – and the free market acolytes are chorusing for privatisation of Government majority banks. To these misguided zealots – this book is a must read and a guide for the lessons to be drawn therefrom – the ills of unregulated private enterprises – and Enron is not the only example.

Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind have produced a masterpiece, highlighting human greed. A well researched, gripping recounting of the AMAZING RISE AND SCANDALOUS FALL OF ENRON.
Ayman


I am on a business and economics reading streak and decided to pick this book about one of the greatest business scandals in modern history. The rise and fall of Enron Corp.

Enron became a synonym of accounting fraud but the actual story is more mind boggling than anything I imagined.

Enron executive squandered $10 billions of hard cash on failed projects and bad deals that enriched many wealthy investors. Spent hundreds of millions on management consulting, investment banking and legal fees and

I am on a business and economics reading streak and decided to pick this book about one of the greatest business scandals in modern history. The rise and fall of Enron Corp.

Enron became a synonym of accounting fraud but the actual story is more mind boggling than anything I imagined.

Enron executive squandered $10 billions of hard cash on failed projects and bad deals that enriched many wealthy investors. Spent hundreds of millions on management consulting, investment banking and legal fees and lavish executive salaries and bonuses and extravagant expenses including a fleet of private jets and expensive bar tabs.

The losers in this story were pension funds and employees who invested their retirement money in the Enron equity and then watched it burn down from $60 billion to zero in a few weeks.

The astonishing part of the story is how checks and balances of the corporate system including: banks, rating agencies, equity analysts and auditing firms all failed to prevent this catastrophe while signs of it were showing in Enron SEC filing, but no body wanted to ask questions and risk the fees they were cashing from Enron.

The most astonishing part is that the Enron story was repeated at a much epic scale in the 2008 financial crisis by the same banks and rating agencies that created the Enron scandal and watched it go bankrupt only 8 years earlier!

Reading this story after Mariana Mazzucato’s scathing criticism of modern economics definition of value really puts the picture in focus and explains how the US income inequality is created by greedy mobs at the heart of the economic system.

A great piece of investigative journalism and worth a read.
Andrea
This book is at turns fascinating, horrifying, confusing, and shocking--and extremely well-written and engaging. I rarely feel as emotionally exhausted by finishing a non-fiction book as I did at the end of this one. The HUBRIS of these people is astonishing...but at the end of the day, it's unsurprising, as it is a direct reflection of American culture and our meritocratic (and completely selfish) mentality. And of course, it's sad and disappointing at the end when you are reminded that very fe This book is at turns fascinating, horrifying, confusing, and shocking--and extremely well-written and engaging. I rarely feel as emotionally exhausted by finishing a non-fiction book as I did at the end of this one. The HUBRIS of these people is astonishing...but at the end of the day, it's unsurprising, as it is a direct reflection of American culture and our meritocratic (and completely selfish) mentality. And of course, it's sad and disappointing at the end when you are reminded that very few people suffered very few consequences for these actions and even those who did barely understood what they did wrong. Our insane lack of punishment for white collar crime is another clear signal of what we value. Though there were times in the book that I was overwhelmed by my lack of knowledge of finance and accounting, I appreciated the authors' sincere attempts at explaining the nuances and the broader conditions that allowed them to get away with what they did.
David J. Reese
As someone who was in college and starting my professional software engineering career during this time period, I was able to map my recollection of events to the timeline in the book. This made the contents very attractive to me and relatable.

The greed and ego at Enron is something I have seen at some of my stops along the way in the startup world as well. Enron might have perfected the techniques in modern times as it relates to the relationship between a corporation, accounting, auditing, inv As someone who was in college and starting my professional software engineering career during this time period, I was able to map my recollection of events to the timeline in the book. This made the contents very attractive to me and relatable.

The greed and ego at Enron is something I have seen at some of my stops along the way in the startup world as well. Enron might have perfected the techniques in modern times as it relates to the relationship between a corporation, accounting, auditing, investment banking and trading.

Everyone knew what was going on and nobody did anything about for fear of losing out on the money. Reminds me a lot of what happened with credit agencies during the housing market bubble.
Chris Lira
I read Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera's book about the financial crisis and thought it was very well done, particularly in making more complex issues understandable. So when I saw she had a book on Enron as wekk, I grabbed it(despite having read the Eichenwald and Watkins books on the subject).

This one is also very well written and engaging. I have a basic understanding of accounting and finance, which helped but anyone could read and comprehent most of the book. Some of the details on the specia I read Bethany McLean and Joe Nocera's book about the financial crisis and thought it was very well done, particularly in making more complex issues understandable. So when I saw she had a book on Enron as wekk, I grabbed it(despite having read the Eichenwald and Watkins books on the subject).

This one is also very well written and engaging. I have a basic understanding of accounting and finance, which helped but anyone could read and comprehent most of the book. Some of the details on the special purpose entities(which hid off balance sheet debt) are a bit tough(even after the 2 previous books) but they're short and understanding them is not required at all to follow what's going on.
David Askanase
The only reason for 4 stars instead of 5 is that this is not a easy read. The book follows the rise, financial machinations and fall of Enron, once the 5th biggest company on Wall Street. Because it takes place in my home town, I really got into it. The main characters are really bigger than life with egos to match. What they couldn't c0ntrol, they made up and management consultants, stock analysts, lawyers and banks accepted it because, after all, it was Enron! A truly cautionary tale of wantin The only reason for 4 stars instead of 5 is that this is not a easy read. The book follows the rise, financial machinations and fall of Enron, once the 5th biggest company on Wall Street. Because it takes place in my home town, I really got into it. The main characters are really bigger than life with egos to match. What they couldn't c0ntrol, they made up and management consultants, stock analysts, lawyers and banks accepted it because, after all, it was Enron! A truly cautionary tale of wanting to believe there was a pot of gold when it was all only alchemy. Lives were ruined and only a few went to jail!!
Jessie
This book is about Enron and a culture that became highly dysfunctional over time. It is a tale of a gradual steady descend into greed, hubris and callous disregard for all the people that they were responsible to, people that were eventually harmed (employees, investors, etc.).

The harm and pain that was caused also extends to the leaders of Enron themselves and their own families. It doesn't seem that they stopped long enough to weight the consequenches of their action on themselves or their fa This book is about Enron and a culture that became highly dysfunctional over time. It is a tale of a gradual steady descend into greed, hubris and callous disregard for all the people that they were responsible to, people that were eventually harmed (employees, investors, etc.).

The harm and pain that was caused also extends to the leaders of Enron themselves and their own families. It doesn't seem that they stopped long enough to weight the consequenches of their action on themselves or their family and friends. Still, I wish them all the best and hope they are forgiven and forgive themselves.
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