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24 Days [Kindle Edition]

Rebecca Smith , John R. Emshwiller
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This is the story of Rebecca Smith and John R. Emshwiller, the two reporters who led the Wall Street Journal's reporting on Enron and uncovered the unorthodox partnerships at the heart of the scandal through skill, luck, and relentless determination.

It all started in August 2001when Emshwiller was assigned to write a supposedly simple article on the unexpected resignation of Enron CEO Jeff Skilling. During his research, Emshwiller uncovered a buried reference to an off-balance-sheet partnership called LJM. Little did he know, this was the start of a fast and furious ride through the remarkable downfall of a once highly-prized company.

Written in an intense, fast paced narrative style, 24 Days tells the gripping story of the colossal collapse of what would become the world's most notorious corporation. The reader follows along as Smith and Emshwiller continue to uncover new partnerships and self-dealing among the highest levels of Enron's management. As they publish articles detailing their findings in the Journal, Wall Street and individual investors have a crisis of confidence and start selling Enron stock at unprecedented levels of volume. In the end - 24 short days later - Enron had completely collapsed, erasing 16 years of growth and losing $19 billion in market value while watching the stock drop from $33.84 to $8.41. Not only was the company destroyed, but investors and retired employees were completely wiped out-all the while Enron executives were collecting millions of dollars.

Climaxing with this 24-day period, this book shows the reporter's-eye view of a David-and-Goliath battle between journalists and a giant corporation. Each day a new story uncovered another fact; each day the company issued denials. And when the investigative stories reached critical mass and momentum, the stock market cast its final vote of no confidence. In the tradition of Indecent Exposure and Barbarians at the Gate, two other gripping narratives that began as a series of Wall Street Journal stories and ended up as books that defined an era, 24 Days brings the importance of great investigative journalism to life.

Editorial Reviews


Even though 24 Days has the feel of a true crime book, the business lessons within it are eye-opening.


"Gripping...24 Days is a fast-paced, enjoyable read and the best of the Enron books yet."--USA Today

Product Details

  • File Size: 460 KB
  • Print Length: 444 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060520744
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books (October 13, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000N0WTLA
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #743,010 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific reporting on an important story September 8, 2003
This is a terrific book. It should be read by anyone who invests because it will give you a better understanding of not only the Enron case, but of the problem of corrupt executives playing fast and loose with their responsibilities to the investors who employ them. Remember, the investors own the company, not the executives. They are hired help who are supposed to look after the interests of those who have put up hard cash for stock in the corporation and who are taking the financial risk as residual claimants. (Of course, those taking risks include the employees who probably have retirement investments in the company). It is a lively read and provides a great deal of valuable information along with the intrigue and outrageous revelations.
There are three story lines that flow like counterpoint. I found them riveting, but I enjoy reading about business. (You probably do as well, or why are you reading about this book?)
First, we follow Rebecca Smith and John Emshwiller as they track down leads in developing news stories about the sudden resignation of Enron's young CEO, Jeff Skilling. This seemingly minor story develops into the amazing and unexpected collapse of Enron as its corrupt financial dealings and improper accounting practices are exposed. We also follow the race between the authors as reporters for the Wall Street Journal racing against the New York Times, the LA Times, and the national TV news programs to get the story out first.
Second, we get the story of Enron and how Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, and especially Andy Fastow worked hard to keep the true state of the company hidden from investors and regulators. We see how they drew others into their plans and punished those who wouldn't go along.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stick to your knitting August 17, 2003
The authors, both Wall Street Journal beat reporters, found themselves in the middle of the paper's coverage of the demise of Enron at the end of 2001. They do an admirable job of retelling the story of Enron's 24 day death spiral - from October 16, 2002 when Enron announced big losses associated with two partnerships to December 3rd when Enron filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. If you missed any of the daily installments in this big-business soap opera, this work will fill in most of the gaps.
There's also the story of what it's like to cover a big on-going economic event for the nation's leading business daily. The Journal's reporters can be confident that media sensitive business people are going to respond to their calls first. However, the writers give the impression that they were pretty much on their own after that and that all the Journal editors in New York do is decide on how much space to devote to each article.
I had two complaints about this otherwise solid book. First, after 381 pages, I'm still not sure how the villainous partnerships worked. The authors spent lots of time in 2001 trying to figure them out. It would have been nice if they had used this book to tell in a clear way what they discovered. How were they set up? How did they enrich Enron employees and how did they contribute to Enron's destruction? The second complaint comes form the author's attempt to personalize their coverage. Each time I read about their gulps of coffee in the morning and hints of bad feeling between the two of them I cringed. Smith and Emshwiller are solid business reporters - they and we would be better served if they stuck to their knitting.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Same Scandal...Different Perspectives December 4, 2003
This book will be especially valuable to those who have a keen interest in "the amazing rise and scandalous fall of Enron." I also commend to their attention McLean and Elkind's The Smartest Guys in the Room. Whereas Smith and Emshwiller explored the same company as investigative reporters, McLean and Elkind seem (to me) to have approached their subject as corporate anthropologists. Both books reach many of the same (albeit somewhat tentative) conclusions as to what happened...and why.
Two significant differences are that Smith and Emshwiller limit their attention primarily to a period in 2001 extending from October 16th (when Enron announced huge losses caused by two partnerships) to December 2nd (when Enron filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy); McLean and Elkind cover a two-year period of the company's "amazing rise and scandalous fall." Also, McLean and Elkind devote far more attention to each of the "smartest guys"; Smith and Emshwiller seem less interested in them, except in terms of the impact of their mismanagement and corruption. Let's say there are two books about the collapse of the twin towers at the World Trade Center; one focuses on the human tragedies associated with it whereas a second book addresses design, construction, and structural issues. Obviously, both approaches are valid.
In certain respects, this book reminds me of Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward's All the President's Men. In both, the reader is provided with a rigorous and comprehensive examination of the process by which investigative journalists generate, evaluate, and pursue leads, then tell a "story" based on the material they have accumulated. Smith and Emshwiller are the focal points in this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars the Fall of Enron & Public Confidence
This is the first book I've ever read with my mouth periodically falling wide open. I couldn't believe the things I kept seeing. Read more
Published 3 months ago by victor
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 4 months ago by Terri Mitchell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great Book
Published 8 months ago by Juan Pablo Saenz Cuen
3.0 out of 5 stars Cracking open the Enron enigma
They just didn't know when to stop.

I'm referring, on one hand, to the puppetmasters of one-time corporate giant Enron, whose greed pushed them to create one corrupt... Read more
Published on March 12, 2013 by Paper Pen
5.0 out of 5 stars 24 Days
Book was as described and in excellent condition. Book arrived prior to said arrival date. Very pleased
Published on February 15, 2010 by Betsy Power
4.0 out of 5 stars A pretty darn good book about the Enron fiasco.
I like the facts straight forward, and I think the authors wrote a pretty good book about the Enron fraud. Read more
Published on January 4, 2010 by Kevin M Quigg
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story; disliked the narration style
This book provides a fascinating background on the Enron scandal. It provides a unique perspective and kept my interest throughout. Read more
Published on September 25, 2009 by R. Schauer
4.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book
Very interesting and well written. With all the negative news, we may seem powerless to bring about change. These two reporters again remind us of how we can all make a difference.
Published on May 30, 2009 by Lynn
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
I thought the book was very good about keeping things flowing while not leaving out a lot of detail. Read more
Published on January 21, 2008 by Razzoo
5.0 out of 5 stars Read it and learn
In this fascinating study of white collar crime, reporters Rebecca Smith and John R. Emshwiller describe in detail how they helped make the criminal excesses of the top executives... Read more
Published on April 19, 2007 by Larry L. Lynch
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