The Fall of the House of Zeus tells the story of Dickie Scruggs, arguably the most successful plaintiff's lawyer in America. A brother-in-law of Trent Lott, the former U.S. Senate majority leader, Scruggs made a fortune taking on mass tort lawsuits against "Big Tobacco" and the asbestos industries. He was hailed by Newsweek as a latter-day Robin Hood and portrayed in the movie The Insider as a dapper aviator-lawyer. Scruggs's legal triumphs rewarded him lavishly, and his success emboldened both his career maneuvering and his influence in Southern politics - but at a terrible cost, culminating in his spectacular fall, when he was convicted for conspiring to bribe a Mississippi state judge.
Here Mississippi is emblematic of the modern South, with its influx of new money and its rising professional class, including lawyers such as Scruggs, whose interests became inextricably entwined with state and national politics. Based on extensive interviews, transcripts, and FBI recordings never made public, The Fall of the House of Zeus exposes the dark side of Southern and Washington legal games and power politics: the swirl of fixed cases, blocked investigations, judicial tampering, and a zealous prosecution that would eventually ensnare not only Scruggs but his son, Zach, in the midst of their struggle with insurance companies over Hurricane Katrina damages. In gripping detail, author Curtis Wilkie crafts an authentic legal thriller propelled by a "welter of betrayals and personal hatreds," providing large supporting parts for Trent Lott and Jim Biden, brother of then-senator Joe, and cameos by John McCain, Al Gore, and other D.C. insiders and influence peddlers. Above all, we get to see how and why the mighty fail and fall, a story as gripping and timeless as a Greek tragedy.
©2010 Curtis Wilkie (P)2010 Tantor
"A remarkable illustration of how far the mighty can fall." (Publishers Weekly)
I found this book fascinating. Though it is a true story, it was like listening to a novel and I found it entertaining all the way through. Tory Dutton
I love legal thrillers like those written by Scott Turow. I also enjoy mysteries, like those written by P.D. James. Cerebral is the word.
Yes, because it is masterfully done. You feel as if you are really getting a sense of who Dickie Scruggs is. You don't want to care about this man - this lawyer, but you do. It is kind of the story of a prostitute with a heart of gold. It is great listen and it is probably an even better read. It gives you some insight into why people are driven and why things sometimes turn out wrong, even though they started out right.
The most memorable moment is when the law firm, now located in Oxford, Mississippi, learns that Dickie, his son and partners are about to be arrested. Dickie, who has been cruising on pain killers and anti-anxiety medication, is now painfully alert that it is about to all fall down and he basically has nowhere to go.
Sean Runnette seems to capture the Southern cadence without being grating. He was down-home and lawyerly at the same time - a feat!
You can never pay off enough people and when you piss off someone - there will be hell to pay!
yes it is a good listen
he went to jail
a personal touch
it is a good story
John Grisham's novels
Have not listened.
No--it made me so sad to hear the greed and jealously of people.
This is interesting stuff, although the author's bias in favor of Dickie Scruggs makes the book come across as less than the whole story. Still, a fascinating look at how the legal community in Mississippi worked (and didn't) together. A huge influx of money from different sources resulted in some very nasty fights amongst the participants, most of which ended up in court. One would think that a bunch of lawyers would know better than to air their dirty laundry in public. Also a nice look at how politics works in a small state where things are controlled by a small number of players.
I really enjoyed House of Zeus. There are many characters and, at times, it can be difficult to keep them all straight. It is an amazing tale of greed and audacity presented in an intelligent, well written package. MS is a very insular place (we lived in Jackson behind one of the characters in the story) in that not many people move in from out of state because there is not a lot of economic opportunity. Wilkie does a great job capturing that sense of a place operating in a time warp, which is hard to comprehend until you live it. The story of Dick Scruggs is simultaneously fascinating and revolting.
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