From Publishers Weekly
Blending detailed reportage with an ironic, conversational style full of interior monologue, Binstein, co-byliner with syndicated columnist Jack Anderson, and Bowden ( Killing the Hidden Waters ) have written a mesmerizing tale about the enigmatic Phoenix bank manipulator Charles Keating, his bizarre, cult-like fiefdom and the investigation that put him behind bars for his role in the nation's most notorious bank fraud. The authors construct an episodic mosaic, jumping back and forth in time. They sketch scenes of life inside Keating's American Continental Corporation (owner of Lincoln Savings and Loan), where the boss capriciously rewarded and terrorized his staff. They offer mini-profiles of Keating's haunted underlings, tantalized by lucre, their personal lives crumbling. They follow Mike Manning, Keating's righteous government tracker who creates a new lexicon of financial terms--"upstreaming cash," "straw buyers," etc.--to argue a big case. They tell of Edwin Gray, the nervous, isolated federal bank regulator who faced the wrath of Keating and his cronies. Most of all, they focus on the charismatic, risk-loving, intimidating 65 "Charlie" Keating. Obsessed from the start of his Cincinnati legal career with matching his client, local financier Carl Lindner, Keating became a nationally known anti-pornography crusader (who nevertheless liked to ogle women) and later moved in 1978 to Phoenix. There, in a boomtown stoked by Reagan-era deregulation, the high-living Keating gambled nearly a billion dollars of Lincoln's assets in an astonishing series of sham deals. In 1992, the 68-year-old Keating, denying wrongdoing, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for fraud and fined $250,000; he has since been found guilty of additional charges. The authors give some credence to Keating's dealmaking dreams and, citing Keating's religious mores and lavish tastes, suggest he was an emblem of the United States in the 1980s.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
A largely successful effort to bring to book the renegade financier whose arrogance, depredations, and political connections made him the apotheosis of the white-collar criminals who laid waste to America's thrift institutions. Drawing on access to their subject, as well to his associates and prosecutors, Binstein (columnist Jack Anderson's collaborator) and Bowden (The Secret Forest, p. 270, etc.) offer a detailed rundown on Charles Keating's life and times. They track the errant banker from a hard-scrabble Catholic boyhood in Cincinnati through stateside service as a Navy pilot during WW II and his upward climb as an on-the-make lawyer. Early on, Keating allied himself with Carl Lindner, a low-profile buccaneer who built American Financial Corp. This partnership prospered, then soured, driving Keating to Arizona, where he set up shop as a homebuilder. Sensing the opportunities opened up by deregulation, he acquired Lincoln Savings & Loan during the early 1980's. Using that institution's federally insured deposits to satisfy his merchant-banking ambitions, Keating proved an immensely inept, albeit awesomely prodigal, wheeler-dealer. Eventually nailed by authorities, he was tried, convicted, and sentenced to prison on a wealth of charges. The authors leave little doubt that, in many respects, Keating's career defies comprehension--he was an ostensibly devoted family man and tireless campaigner against pornography, for instance, who persistently flouted securities and banking laws and who suborned both elected and appointed officials. In like vein, Binstein and Bowden recount how a pillar of rectitude was at boozy ease in pleasure domes from Las Vegas to Monte Carlo. Whether Keating managed to divert significant amounts of the megabuck sums he squandered on failed enterprises to his own or his family's account, however, remains an open question. As complete and satisfying a wrap-up as is likely to be available any time soon on the man who, arguably, played the leading role in the S&L debacle. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.