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Spoiling for a Fight: The Rise of Eliot Spitzer Paperback – March 20, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Masters's examination of the New York State attorney general's seven years in office is timely, given Spitzer's prosecutions of powerful financial industries and his candidacy in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Even if Spitzer fails in his bid for the governorship, the book is worthy of study because it clearly explains the complicated, unsavory practices of insurance companies, mutual funds, Wall Street brokerages and the New York Stock Exchange. The author also skillfully places Spitzer in the context of previous reformers within government, especially Theodore Roosevelt, Louis Brandeis and Rudy Giuliani. She shows, too, how philosophical differences between state and federal regulators over the past 100 years set the stage for the crusading Spitzer. Masters, a New York–based reporter for the Washington Post, holds degrees from Harvard University and the London School of Economics that prepared her well for dissecting the arcane, corrupt industry routines usually unknown to consumers. Though Masters received cooperation from the 46-year-old Spitzer and many of his aides, this warts-and-all book demonstrates how the mostly sincere, mostly decent Spitzer can be hurt by his overweening ego and quick temper. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Spitzer, New York's combative attorney general, has made a name for himself prosecuting Wall Street investment bankers and expanding his office into areas traditionally considered federal domain, from civil rights to environmental protection. Washington Post reporter Masters renders a penetrating view of a man who has set his sights on the governorship of New York. Based on interviews with Spitzer, his friends and colleagues, executive targets, regulators, and prosecutors, Masters examines the influences on Spitzer's drive and pugnacity. From a privileged background, Spitzer has been an admirer of progressives from Theodore Roosevelt to Louis Brandeis. Spitzer has taken on the giants of Wall Street, including Merrill Lynch, AIG, and online trading firms, building court cases and making out-of-court settlements to investors. His critics have compared his zeal and political ambition to those of another former prosecutor, Rudolph Guiliani. As Spitzer prepares for his next political move, readers will enjoy this look at a progressive crusader whose passion and sense of moral outrage have led him to take on the lions of Wall Street. Vanessa Bush
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Holt Paperbacks (March 20, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805083022
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805083026
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,729,100 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Brooke A. Masters is a Washington Post staff writer based in New York. She covers Wall Street, the securities industry and white-collar crime. Since 2002, she has had a close-up view of corporate malfeasance because her assignments included the trials of Martha Stewart, Frank Quattrone, the Rigas family and Bernard Ebbers. She also reported extensively for the Post on Eliot Spitzer's various investigations.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Grattan VINE VOICE on September 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For a book that supposedly focuses on him, Eliot Spitzer for the most part remains a rather obscure character who operates in the background orchestrating a crackdown on various financial institutions engaged in all manner of highly unethical, if not criminal, behavior in the state of New York. It should be a disturbing book. The dishonesty and disrespect for the public evidenced in this book by major financial institutions is appalling.

The reader is supplied with Spitzer basics: wealthy upbringing, the best schools, good grades, etc. Given his background, he should have joined the club - the club that winks at financial shenanigans. But as a true believer in correct behavior, prosecutor, and later attorney general of New York, Spitzer became aware of cheating, collusion, and other assorted misdeeds among financial institutions and set out to do something about it.

The book is more or less a step-by-step account of several cases involving numerous companies, lawyers, analysts, brokers, CEOs, etc. The illegalities are often subtle and much debated, though the intent is always clear: make lots of money at the expense of the other guy. Conflicts are a big part of the author's story, not only with those that the AG's office was hounding, but with the SEC and other regulators. Not trusting the inaction of the SEC through the years, Spitzer's office constantly intruded on the SEC's turf and moved quickly to address the issues. The myriad players and details, some of which are presented better than others, get to be quite a chore to keep straight.

The author seems to assume that the reader will get to know Spitzer through his, or his proxy's, legal actions. But it is difficult to separate out Spitzer from the endless day-to-day detail of the cases.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By R. SELIG on April 1, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Like the Bright Girl Ms. Masters no doubt was, and is, she reports every phone call, every e-mail, everything said at every meeting according to every participant. It's thorough but oddly, disappointingly, lifeless. There will be a bounce in the sales of this book what with the recent fall of the Governor amid scandal and disgrace. Alas, those who seek an insight as to how it all could have happened will have to look elsewhere.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sanjay A. Paul on August 30, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This book will intrigue anyone interested in the political process and law.

Masters offers a balanced view of Spitzer's war against wall street. The gist of the book is Spitzer's background and education (rich, ivy league, privilleged) and his ambitious rise to NY Attorney General where he has whipped into shape Wall Street. In doing so, Spitzer has caught the ire of many people who beleive that he is trespassing on sacred SEC and federal government grounds.

Others feel Spitzer is doing the job the SEC SHOULD have been doing. Whether you like him or not, the book offers an interesting perspective into a rising politician and the reaons why he will probably never have a legitimate shot at the White House (hint, its for the same reasons he's been thus far succesful).
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16 of 23 people found the following review helpful By HAROLD J. REYNOLDS on August 1, 2006
Format: Hardcover
So well known are Eliot Spitzer and the corporate visionaries he brought to boot, so widely praised has he been, so robust the expectancy of his gubernatorial future, that any writer about him risks becoming another entrant in a great sack race of redundancy. Brooke Masters's Pulitzer worthy "Spoiling for a Fight: The Rise of Eliot Spitzer", however, is both a journalistic triumph and, socially measured, a public service. Her close description of the facts and settings, rendered in a highly readable style, reflect her Harvard and London School of Economics degrees burnished by sixteen years with the Washington Post.

When in 1999, thirty-nine year old Eliot Spitzer was sworn as New York's 63rd Attorney General, few took into account that he was a True Believer in the progressive tradition of Brandeis and FDR. No one, including himself, foresaw that in an epiphanic moment he would link federalism with the Martin Act's empowerment of him to obtain ex parte injunctive relief upon a complaint that had not yet been answered. So it was that every razzledazzle analyst and fleetfooted broker trudging into 120 Broadway would soon find Spitzer sitting in a prosecutor's heaven, playing for keeps. Here was a steel-willed, politically ambitious warrior who had the street smarts to sense that his own nature and the workings of a random chance might position him to ascend.

Spitzer, transforming what attorney generals do, attacked midwestern power plants for polluting New York, ripped into the Food Emporium and A&P, Gristedes and other major supermarkets and drugstore chains, for mindboggling working conditions of immigrant deliverymen, and convicted the first felonious sweatshop operator in a decade.
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