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Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 13, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
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 3rd (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 far 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.
McLean and Elkind suggest that the eventual collapse of Enron was caused less by the greed of senior-level Enron executives than it was by their arrogance and incompetence. Their lack of basic business acumen is astonishing as is their defiance of regulatory agencies and contempt for customers.Read more ›
The authors rightly spend the vast majority of the book examining the personalities and circumstances that allowed the company to become what it was at the end of its life. Mix a potion that's one part hardscrabble Harvard MBAs, one part energy deregulation, and one part hysterical bull market, and you've got a financial molotov cocktail. Sadly, as we all know now, it was largely the little guy who paid the price for all the hubris of the players in this story, a fact that tends to get lost in the authors' painstaking recreation of the most complicated shell game in history.
But the story of Enron's fallout could provide the material for a whole other book. In this one we get the tale of the players, people like Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, Rebecca Mark and Andy Fastow, all filled with an equal mix of remarkable brilliance and fatal arrogance. All are indicted by these authors as rabid players in a game they made up themselves, deeming themselves beyond the petty world of rules and regulation. But coming in for equal excoriation is the system itself, the web of enablement and intimidation that allowed Andy Fastow to quietly hammer together the company's coffin in the form of a maze of phantom accounting entities designed to prop of the appearance of the corpse inside.Read more ›
At least, such is the narrative that the authors offer. They argue that Enron, over the past 15 years, repeatedly found itself in financial trouble, and, rather than come clean to the Street, used financial engineering strategies to make its numbers appear better than they were. This practice arose out of a fanatical devotion to the company's stock price; the company's stock price would not continue to rise if the company missed the Street's earnings expectations for the quarter. Since so much of the executives' wealth was tied up in Enron stock and options, financial shenanigans became a self-fulfilling prophecy. After all, the authors point out, if most of your wealth is tied up in a company's stock, don't you have an incentive to do everything possible to keep its stock at a high level? Certainly, at this point, financial chicanery becomes more attractive than financial fidelity.
Therein lies the fundamental flaw of Enron (as well as numerous other bubble companies): the very compensation scheme created by the company to inculcate a sense of loyalty in its executives created a conflict too gross to manage adequately.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
If you want to have an idea about what happened at ENRON, or you just enjoy 'business' book, you HAVE to read this book. Deserves more than five stars too.Published 1 month ago by S. G. Kennedy
Excellent blow-by-blow history of what happened at Enron and how they failed.Published 6 months ago by William J. Sauber
A great book to read for any business professional. This book influenced me greatly in college while studying accounting, and learning ethics.Published 9 months ago by Michael Martin
I've had this book on my shelf for about 10 years, but for some reason I'd never gotten around to reading it. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Robert B. Lamm
Another book that makes one wonder how these guys get into this criminality so DEEP, and seem to be able to sleep at night. I find myself simply shaking my head in wonder.Published 14 months ago by Randy
Interesting telling of the Enron story by the then Fortune Magazine reporter, Bethany McLean, who asked the obvious but unanswered question: "How do they make their... Read morePublished 16 months ago by JH McConnell
pretty good book regarding the details of enron. Not my usual type of book, but I've always found the case interesting and so I wanted to read more about it. Read morePublished 18 months ago by T