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The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enronby Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind
Synopses & Reviews
Until the spring of 2001, the Houston energy giant Enron epitomized the triumph of the new economy. Feared by rivals, worshiped by investors, Enron seemingly could do no wrong. Its profits rose every quarter; its stock price surged ever upward; its leaders were hailed as visionaries.
Then a young Fortune writer named Bethany McLean wrote an article posing a simple question — How, exactly, does Enron make its money? — and the company's house of cards began to collapse. Though other business scandals would follow, none has had the shattering effect of Enron's bankruptcy, which caused Americans to lose faith in a system that rewarded top insiders with millions of dollars while small investors, including many Enron employees, lost everything.
Despite enormous media coverage of Enron, the definitive story of its astonishing rise and fall comes alive for the first time in this gripping narrative, by McLean and her Fortune colleague Peter Elkind. Drawing on a wide range of private documents and well-placed sources, many of them exclusive, McLean and Elkind lead you behind closed doors and deep into Enron's past, to pierce the veil of secrecy that has surrounded the company's inner workings and corrupt culture.
The Smartest Guys in the Room is fundamentally a human drama — of people drunk on their own success, people so ambitious, so certain of their own brilliance, so fueled by greed and hubris that they believed they could fool the world. The book explores the motives, thoughts, and secret fears of a fascinating array of characters, including:
"The book's sober financial analysis supplements that of Mimi Swartz's Power Failure, while offering additional perspectives that flesh out the details of the Enron story." Publishers Weekly
"The portrait of the narcissistic culture fostered by Enron's president, Kenneth Lay...is so vivid that the reader is amazed but not really shocked when the boom of the late 90's provides the spark that ultimately engulfs the entire enterprise in flames." Jonathan A. Knee, The New York Times Book Review
"Masterful....News junkies and mystery lovers who enjoy financial scandals will devour this multilayered book." USA Today
"Compelling....[A] cautionary tale about highfliers who weren't as clever as they thought." Entertainment Weekly
"This is the most thorough examination of Enron to date....Laying extensive groundwork, the authors ably convey the multidimensional nature of this story." David Siegfried, Booklist
Named "one of the ten best business books of 2003" (BusinessWeek), this national bestseller is updated with new material on the amazing rise and scandalous fall of Enron. It includes a 16-page photo insert.
The tenth-anniversary edition of the definitive account of the Enron scandal, updated with a new chapter
The Enron scandal brought down one of the most admired companies of the 1990s. Countless books and articles were written about it, but only The Smartest Guys in the Room holds up a decade later as the definitive narrative. For this tenth anniversary edition, McLean and Elkind have revisited the fall of Enron and its aftermath, in a new chapter that asks why Enron still matters. They also reveal the fates of the key players in the scandal.
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.
About the Author
Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind are both senior writers at Fortune magazine. McLean is a former analyst for Goldman Sachs. Elkind is the former associate editor of Texas Monthly.
Table of Contents
The Smartest Guys in the Room Authors' Notes and Acknowledgments
Cast of Characters
1. Lunch on a Silver Platter
2. Please Keep Making Us Millions
3. We Were the Apostles
4. The First Prima Donna
5. Guys with Spikes
6. The Empress of Energy
7. The 15 Percent Solution
8. A Recipe for Disaster
9. The Klieg-Light Syndrome
10. The Hotel Kenneth-Lay-a
11. Andy Fastow's Secrets
12. The Big Enchilada
13. An Unnatural Act
14. The Beating Heart of Enron
15. Everybody Loves Enron
16. When Pigs Could Fly
17. Gaming California
18. Bandwidth Hog
19. Ask Why, Asshole
20. I Want to Resign
21. The $45 Million Question
22. We Have No Cash!
Epilogue: Isn't Anybody Sorry?
What Our Readers Are Saying
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