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Catastrophe: The Story of Bernard L. Madoff, the Man Who Swindled the World Paperback – March 15, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Phoenix Books (March 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1597776408
  • ISBN-13: 978-1597776400
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,839,326 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

With his arrest on Dec. 11, 2008, the world first learned that Wall Street trader and former NASDAQ chairman Bernard Madoff was allegedly running the largest Ponzi scheme in history, a $50 billion scam constructed over decades. Husband and wife writing team the Strobers (Billy Graham, The Nixon Presidency) set out to discover "what sort of person could have coldly stolen from those who had entrusted him... in many instances, with their life savings?" Born in 1938, Madoff was an unmemorable student who, in his mid-twenties, got into investing with $5000. His rags-to-riches story helped him become one of the most trusted men in the financial world, delivering fantastic returns to clients like Kevin Bacon, Stephen Spielberg, the Fairfield Fund, a wide range of Jewish philanthropies, and countless other individual investors. Put together in less than three months, this early account depends largely on media and internet stories, supplemented by 25 interviews with those who knew Madoff. Though the Strobers raise many questions that can't yet be answered (how Madoff evaded regulators, whether he had confederates, etc.), their study of a charming alleged con man is compelling, can't-make-this-stuff-up reading.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Deborah and Gerald Strober are the authors of oral histories of the Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan presidencies and of oral biographies of Queen Elizabeth II, The Dalai Lama, Billy Graham and Rudy Giuliani. Their latest book, Israel at Sixty was published in February 2008. The Strobers live in New York and in Herzliya-by-the-Sea, Israel.

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Customer Reviews

It is a quick read and easy to understand.
Steve Burns
The authors didn't have information on Madoff's guilty admission and spent several chapters discussing confess or trial.
Chen Sun
This book seems thick on sentiment and thin on facts or analysis.
Dr. Yuval Lirov

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Chen Sun on March 27, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Though just published, it is already out-of-date. The authors didn't have information on Madoff's guilty admission and spent several chapters discussing confess or trial. Additionally one-quarter of the book is difficult-to-read legal documents appendixes, making 2/5 of the book irrelevant as of 3/09.

If you were a Madoff customer, a Madoff-news-addict, or a person interested in Jewish charities, this book is well-written and clear.

If not one of the above, the book offers little that's practical or entertaining. If I were an investor, I would like to understand what the numerous Madoff red flags were--not detailed in this book. If I wanted to be entertained, I would want to read about how Madoff was so devious and calculating, and the spine-tingling risks he took. Neither of these are detailed here. Instead, it's a set of sentimental interviews about whom so and so lost so much money. Tells little about what they could do to prevent these.

Also, the author separates Jews from "gentiles", and focuses on Jews. I thought Madoff has broader appeal.... Affinity scams are well known in churches, for example. This book doesn't teach how affinity scams work in general.

Didn't learn much of value.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Yuval Lirov VINE VOICE on April 12, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The recent frauds allegedly perpetrated by Bernard Madoff, Tang Wei Zhen, Robert Allen Stanford, Paul Greenwood and Stephen Walsh, teach us about the importance of transparency of investment decision and management processes and provide a rich source of writing inspiration.

A typical investment fraud plays along Andersen's famous "Emperor's New Clothes" tale scenario, and it includes four key participants: swindlers, an exposing child, an ignorant and sycophant crowd, and victims. Strober's book hyperbolizes all four key components to a unique degree:

1. The main character is Bernard Madoff, a highly respected financier, previous NASDAQ chairman, and a member of multiple exclusive clubs. Since establishing his financial securities investment firm in 1960, he posted an uninterrupted record of outstanding financial performance, accumulated billions in assets under management, and frequently turned away investors only too eager to participate.
2. The cries about the naked emperor include Barron's article (2001) and Markopolos's letter to SEC (2005) that lists twenty nine (29) redflags.
3. The crowd is the regulatory bodies, other hedge fund managers, and the media that failed to notice and report the largest Ponzi scheme in human history in spite of suspicions and warnings.
4. The list of victims includes dozens of major banks, hedge funds, charities, and universities, as well as individual investors.

Having interviewed some 30 people, including classmates, investors, lawyers, and other Wall Street experts in a short time span during the few weeks since the news of Madoff's arrest on December 11, 2008, Strobers' book is necessarily limited to the few facts printed in the media and a few individual victims' perspectives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By DAVID BRYSON TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The foreword to this book is dated precisely 32 days later than the original news story of the discovery of the Madoff scandal. That is eloquent testimony to the authors' objective - they felt the need for an immediate book on the subject. I have seen the objection raised that an immediate book of this kind cannot be the latest word on the story, but although that is undoubtedly true it is not much of a discovery. Nobody yet knows how many more chapters of this saga have still to unfold, and to me it is a good idea to collect the early disclosures as quickly as possible. Newspaper and broadcast reports are patchy and temporary by their nature, a book less so. Just as important to me as a reader is that in the hands of the right authors an early book can capture a lot of the sense of breathless rush (not to say outright panic in some quarters) that surrounded the Madoff disaster.

I am really quite impressed by the job the Strobers have done under the circumstances. The main sign of haste is that the book is slightly repetitious here and there, but not to any bothersome extent. Their narrative is clear and literate, and although there are plenty of quotations these are skilfully placed so as to provide variety, and they do not suggest padding. The authors make some attempt to account for the personality of Bernard Madoff, but the main focus is on the actual events. To me, this is the right way of doing it. The first need is clarity about what actually happened, so far as that can be ascertained early on in the saga, the actual sequence of events is exciting enough in its own right to constitute a sufficient narrative thread, and I actually doubt that we are ever going to improve greatly on the simple perception regarding Madoff that his nature was inherently criminal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Murphy on May 24, 2010
Format: Paperback
I "read" this book by listening to the audio version (free, from my local library!). The version I listened to had been updated to include Madoff's conviction and sentencing.

What I was looking for was a relatively brief synopsis of why the Madoff scandal was such a big deal, how it happened, and a closer look at the all time world champ of the swindling world. I got all three of my desires fulfilled. I'm not a financial whizz, so appreciated the careful explanation of financial terms.

This book was first out of the starting block. For those wanting far more detail (I don't!), one of the subsequent and more highly rated books would probably do better. If, on the other hand, you have access to the audio version, and want a basic understanding about the Madoff saga, this book was written in a very accessible way, and allowed me to get a good understanding of this phenomenal story, all while jogging down my favorite running paths.
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