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Trust Me: Charles Keating and the Missing Billions Hardcover – June 29, 1993

4.8 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (June 29, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679416994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679416999
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #768,850 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By John G. Hilliard on April 13, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This book covers the story of Charles Keating and his effort to run an S&L like a Kingdom to benefit his family and political views. This book offers the reader a very well documented, thought out telling of the Keating story. You can actually see when he starts to take for granted the public-trust he has and start to us it for his own purposes. Although to be fair to him, it was not all because he was conniving, he was also a truly bad businessman that seamed to make gold into lead. He was defiantly the poster boy for the whole S&L scandal. I would have liked to have more detail on his overall political dealings. Overall this is an interesting and well-written book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a troubling travel brochure through the history of corruption in Arizona through the Seventies and Eighties. John McCain thrived in this atmosphere, peopled with crooked land-deals, mobbed up politicians and unrepresentative Government at all levels. Keating made his life's work of purchasing the votes and support of five United States Senators (2 from Arizona) while stealing the life savings of thousands of retired Arizonans an entertaining sting. He obviously loved the scam. Binstein's names, numbers and facts are immersed in Bowden's stormy, gloomy atmospherics and the result is excellent journalism. Bill Heuisler .
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Simply put, this is not just the best book written about Charles Keating ("Charlie" to my family - we knew him); it's not just the best book about the S&L Scandal; Binstein and Bowden have created one of the best business books I've read. The pace is breathtaking, and it reads better than any fictionalized business novel I have read. What is incredible is the story is true.

The authors utilize very unorthodox stylistic components for a non-fiction book in the business genre, with chapters that are just one page and a quote interspersed with the increasingly frenetic pace of the narrative as the authors take you through Charles Keating's final days at ACC and Lincoln Savings & Loan.

It is unfortunate this book did not get the proper marketing and communications push that was the norm of a book this large, this deep, with some of the best no0n-fiction narrative writing I've ever come across. Hence, it only had a one run hardback publishing history. Not many know about this gem.

As for Charles Keating, they are as balanced as they could possibly be at the time it was written. In 1996, Keating's was convicted in December 1991 of 17 counts of fraud, racketeering, and conspiracy. Mother Teresa asked the court to show leniency to Keating, in recognition of the considerable sums he had donated to her charitable operations. In April 1992, California Superior Court Judge Lance Ito gave Keating the maximum 10-year prison sentence, quoting Woody Guthrie, to wit "More people have suffered from the point of a fountain pen than from a gun."

In January 1993, a federal conviction followed, on 73 counts of fraud, racketeering and conspiracy. In July 1993, Keating was given a 12½ year sentence.

The book ends there, which is really a shame.
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Format: Hardcover
A riveting read that takes you inside the fascinating world of Charlie Keating. Could not put this book down, no matter how hard I tried. A must-have!
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Format: Hardcover
Journalist Binstein and writer Bowden note Charles (they call him "Charlie") Keating's "obsession about pornography" (banning it, that is); "He lives surrounded by filthy pictures---for his work he must have a collection as evidence."

They observe, "Debt seems to make Charlie Keating free... To track Charlie Keating is to witness a pattern of constant cash injections, constant purges of money by big spending and yet a strange lack of avarice." (Pg. 148-149)

When federal regulators begin investigating Lincoln Savings and Loan Association's risky investments, "The threat of lawsuits is hurled at the regulators... It is the instinctive way Charlie Keating always deals with government bureaucracies---drag them out of their bureaucracies, get them into court where there are rules, a level playing field." (Pg. 220) In 1986, when "Charlie Keating has had a bellyful of the federal government... Some of his aides are advising caution... (and that) Keating should stop being so hostile, so aggressive in his dealings with the regulators. Charlie Keating dismisses both ideas. He will not bend his knee to federal civil servants, he will not grovel." (Pg. 248)

They observe, "what he always insists on, is that he did not initiate this way of running the United States, this custom of buying influence. He just recognizes how things are actually done in his country, and he does what he has to do." (Pg. 293) They later add that Keating "has rarely talked to the press. He considers them beneath contempt." (Pg. 361)

Not the most "detailed" or "factual" treatment of the S&L crisis, nor the most objective, this is still a very engaging treatment of the matter, and well worth reading.
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