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Publisher's Summary

From inside the walls of Enron, a lone whistleblower attempted to avert the course of events leading to the largest bankruptcy in American history. On August 16, 2001, Sherron Watkins wrote an anonymous letter to Enron's Chairman, Ken Lay, laying out problems with Enron's use of partnerships to hide debt. She warned of a possible scandal that could topple the company if investors and the news media learned of the operations. Then, she revealed her identity and confronted Lay directly. Lay did nothing, and the scandal broke, sending Enron's stock price into the basement and wiping out the life savings of many thousands of people. Hear how Enron's culture of greed and the relentless cutting of moral corners led to the ultimate disaster, as told by an insider.
©2003 MiMi Swartz; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"Paints the most detailed portrait yet of the company's ambitious executives and toxic culture." (BusinessWeek)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall

A Truly Compelling Look at Greed and Arrogance

This excellent, well-researched story lays out in great detail the little corruptions that turn into bigger corruptions, resulting ultimately in a sad story of staggering financial losses not by the fat cats that led Enron, but by their workers for whom Enron was a paycheck and a shot at a nice retirement, not a slot machine. The spirit of greed and arrogance that corrupted Lay, Skilling and Fastow, along with a host of Enron officers and the accountants and attorneys who were supposed to be providing adult supervision, should never be allowed to ressurect itself in Corporate America.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Claire
  • Raleigh, NC, USA
  • 03-09-09

Absolutely Spellbinding.

OUTSTANDING. Incredibly well researched and solidly written in a way that informs, but doesn't financially overwhelm. I cannot recommend it highly enough and urge anyone interested in this story, to purchase it. You will find it enthralling, educational, unbelievable and plain addictive. It is brilliant.
Brian, I note that you gave the book just one star stating that it contained errors of fact.
Whilst I respect your viewpoint; unless you can actually back it up with fact, then your review that could have been really useful, is in fact, worthless.
If there are factual errors, tell us what they are. Are you talking about some major financial details being incorrectly reported? If so, what should they be and why.
For all we know, you might just be talking about that Ken Lay got for Christmas in 1981.
You clearly posted that the book has errors. If so:
1. What ARE the errors you are speaking of? If there are too many to list, just provide us with the top five mistakes, for example.
2. Tell us why you are correct in your views, and convince us to believe you by providing at least some basic factual back up and how the issue should have been reported.
3. Once I have this - I am listening big time.
4. What frustrates me is that you spend 3 minutes posting some flippant and unqualified statements which may have an impact on either its author reader. These feedback reviews are critical to most of us. Yes, it is our right to state our opinion (and thank goodness for it), but without a constructive and informed argument, your words are worse than useless; even if you have some valid points.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Phil O.
  • San Diego, CA, United States
  • 01-09-15

A worthwhile addition to my Enron library

This is maybe the sixth book I have read on Enron. Full disclosure: I am an aficionado, fan and amateur scholar of the Enron story. This one (for readers who already have a basic grasp of the narrative) has its own useful and illuminating angles and facts, large and small. Sherron Watkins' personalized journey through the company helps show the nervous, semi-entrepreneurial kind of path many felt they must follow, to be linked to the personalities and the "action" where advancement and even survival could be found. On occasion, the personal trivia veered into the stupid -- ski and paintball encounters and such. But I guess this shows some of the silly juvenile trash that I am given to understand still permeates the halls of many corporations, as team- and spirit- building exercises. Apparently the cheerleaders still stalk the halls of business. But these sidetracks are mercifully short, and the discussion often touches (if simplified, then comprehensibly) on quite substantive matters -- some details of accounting devices used to puff up revenues and hide debt, and the legalities of entering, say, retail electricity sales in multiple states. Then, too, we get a good portrait of the principals' (Skilling's and Fastow's, particularly) reactions to such obstacles, as mere technicalities to be creatively overcome. And there, the story is quite current, in view of globalized corporations' armies of numbers and law personnel brainstorming to "arbitrage" every such obstacle. Some of this is a natural (and not necessarily always nefarious) part of doing business -- creativity IS often about stretching existing boundaries and obstacles. And sometimes the legalities ARE sketchy. Of course, Enron became a caricature and a cartoon of this, as is skillfully laid out here. The narration is clear, punchy and quite suitable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Celia
  • New Orleans LA
  • 06-30-05

Wild Ride

Even if there are some errors (as pointed out by another reader), the big picture is a truly wild ride from a soaring beginning to a train wreck of an ending. I was fascinated by this story and still can't fathom how seemingly intelligent individuals can evolve into rabid egomaniacs who, without any shred of conscience, cause utter devistation for so many.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

A window into Corporate America

I really enjoyed this look into one of the biggest scandals of big business. While you may think a book about accounting rules would be quite dry it is anything but. The author does a great job of making the book interesting by making the core of the book a tale of the culture and personalities. Even the explanation of the accounting manipulations Enron cooked up were easily understood by the time you finished because they were explained in many different ways as the story transpires. It is pretty clear that while not all companies engage in such practices; the ethical lines are probably very blurred in many corporations today. Makes you look at the latest investigations like Fannie Mae with a new eye. Also recommend When Genius Failed. Similar enjoyable learning experience of investing within the context of a greed scandal story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Power Failure

Incredible well written,well researched and well read story.
It is shocking and at the same time incredibly interesting to go into depth in this true story which left so many without retirement due to few extremely greedy ignorant persons,like Ken Lay and wife,shopping so much in Franch, that most of the staff flying on ,,one of the ,, Enrons privat jet,had to take commercial airliner back home.(What a shame).

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Performance
  • Story

Good book, narator is a bit annoying

I didn't mind the material. The narrator is a bit over the top. It would have been much better if the narrator did not show so much emotions in reacting to narrative. This book is much better than the anti-Bush alternative (The Smartest Guys in the Room).

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Unless you are really really hooked on Enron...

This was my third-in-a-row Enron book, so maybe I was just over it by then, but although it was an interesting perspective, it didn't add much to either Conspiracy of Fools, in my opinion the best, or The Smartest Guys in the Room, which did make some of the financial dealings a little easier to understand. It took me until the second section to get resigned to the narrator - it made sense to have a female narrator and maybe she actually sounded like Sherren - but she was definitely trying (way too hard) to emphasize things that were really not that exciting and did nothing to add to the story. Stick with stopping at two unless...

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Enron still facinates

This is my third Enron book and I thought it was excellent. More insight than the Smartest Guys in the Room and Watkins was there for the whole disgusting charade. Well worth the time for anyone interested in the Enron debacle.

  • Overall

Many factual errors

This is the third book I have read on fall of Enron. I was shocked and disappointed at the number of sloppy factual errors. Besides leaving off or incorrectly reporting import events. The book also gets even basic things wrong. Like calling the City of Columbia Missouri's state capital.

4 of 9 people found this review helpful