- Also check our best rated Biography reviews
The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron Paperback – 28 Sep 2004
There is a newer edition of this item:
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
...the most comprehensive picture yet of how the company went off the rails. The sheer accumulation of detail makes it possible for the first time to understand how Enron got away with its blend of hubris and incompetence for so long. . . This is more than a business story. It is also about what can happen to any institution when weak and complacent leadership allows itself to be swept along by strong vested interests and the mood of the times. (Richartd Lambert, ex editor of Financial Times and member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Full of details, it makes sense of the accounting malpractices, the shady business practices, the deeply dysfunctional corporate culture and the ins-and-outs of gaming the deregulated energy markets in the United States and beyond. Some of what went on is truly astonishing, the Chief Financial Officer is making tens of millions of dollars out of the off balance sheet gymnastics that enabled Enron to "hide" its debt and it's share price to rise quarter after quarter; the destructive wars between divisions of the company; the projects signed, sealed and forgotten about. Of equal interest are the author's accounts of the people who played a part in the story of Enron. "Kenny Boy" Lay, the avuncular visionary, philanthropist who "luckily" sold most of his Enron shares before the final collapse; Jeff Skilling, the former McKinsey consultant, aficionado of "Darwinian Struggle" and organisational chaos as well as CEO of Enron for much of it's time as most hyped corporation; Rebecca Mark of the Enron's international division, deeply involved in the exploitative contract for a mega power station in India that eventually collapsed, who takes her belief in positive thinking to pathologically insane lengths that are as far away from reality as Enron's share price is from the real value of the company.
In amongst this story of Hubris and Nemesis, the authors don't forget that Enron couldn't have been possible without a cast of thousands including Banks, Accountants, offshore havens, Politicians, Regulators, the Media, and Investment Analysts. This part of the analysis isn't particularly deep but at least it puts the whole Enron scam into a broader context. Readers who want an entertaining and systematic analysis of the hype around the 1990's boom, which forms a good deal of the backdrop to the Enron story, will find an excellent account in Thomas Frank's One Market Under God.
A gripping book, that puts into a narrative form the sordid story of the rise and fall of Enron in a form that is comprehensible to the general reader, without compromising on the ins-and-outs of the machinations that went on behind the scenes. Well recommended.
Yes it can be complex but it is not unfathomable by any means (I do have a business background but am not an accountant). It is important to understand such a multi-layered build up of 'success' for Enron as it helps to explain the sheer scale of the meltdown, the biggest corporate bankruptcy ever...apart from WorldCom and Lehman Brothers which followed.
I would wholeheartedly recommend this book - if it were fiction it would be unbelievable.
The book is complex necessarily but the authors do a great job in taking us through the detail without blinding us. As regards the key characters (and there are upwards of a dozen)the authors seem to have adopted something of a formulaic approach to their characterisation. At times it seems like they are working off a table that sets out each characters home town, parental occupation, college and early career. You are left feeling that you know what these people got up to but you don't feel that you know them and you are, largely, left to draw your own conclusions as to why people did what they did.
That said you don't have to be a pyscho-analyst to see that Enron was an exercise in insider greed supported by wrong headed group-think. This allowed a cadre of talented managers, bankers and advisors to convince themselves and others that, in deceiving shareholders and overtly undermining the intention of regulation and in becoming multi-millionaires, they were, in fact "on the side of the angels."
So when you hear Lloyd Blankfein tell us that Goldman Sachs is "doing God's work" - how does that make you feel.
So, for once, believe the blurb on the jacket; if you have only one book to read, not just about Enron but about the hubris of the past decade, make it this one.
Would you like to see more reviews about this item?
Most recent customer reviews