For those who fancy tales of corporate fraud, dodgy accounting, international permutations of same, PR manipulators, foibles of regulators, weird judges, and such, this one goes to the top of the stack. The author, though an attorney, has a light nimble step of intelligence, great nimbleness and ease with words, ready humor, and is a great explainer of fairly complex things in plain English with relentless puckishness. I found myself smiling incessantly, and repeatedly laughing out loud. The reader was well-cast, matching his effervescently amused tone with the content. Being in legal and teaching fields, I admire this presentation and content.
I wouldn't call this a page-turner. Often it read like a series of newspaper articles. But, I have a fascination for fraud tales, and a legal background, and I really clicked with its thoroughness in describing the schemes, and also the procedural details of the "crime and punishment" side of the stories. I like the combo of enough story and enough technical detail to be satisfying on both fronts. The stories are not an exhaustive review of frauds from tulip days to Madoffs'. The narrative skips across big stretches of history and quickly lands in modern times. But there is no lack of lurid fraud schemes in recent years -- the most famous are here. The Madoff aftermath story was not completed as of this publication -- "The Wizard of Lies" audiobook goes deeper in detail and gives a more updated story of that. All in all, though, I am very satisfied with this book.
I hope this professor will produce something newer, as I would be very interested in his post-2008 take on things. He mixes statistics (such as per capita GDP compared betwen countries, and changes in that over time) with the narrative history effectively. I wouldn't say I was stunned by any bit of information, but I was pleased with the overall walk-through, which sharpened my knowledge. He did have some very interesting stats and conjectures about what has and particularly hasn't worked in Africa and the Middle East. He works his way around the entire planet, and major economy-shaping events of the last several decades.
In mid-2008, delivering this lecture series, he seemed to have underestimated how bad things were going to get. But that is true of most people, including most economists.
His voice sometimes takes on a bit of an urgent or intense tone that can be slightly grating. But it is not significant, and wouldn't stop me from listening through this course (or others by him). I understand he has a lot to say in a compressed amount of time. I also enjoyed his global economic history of the 20th century.