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Tangled Webs: How False Statements are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff Hardcover – April 19, 2011
"Rebound" by Kwame Alexander
Don't miss best-selling author Kwame Alexander's "Rebound," a new companion novel to his Newbery Award-winner, "The Crossover," illustrated with striking graphic novel panels. Learn more
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That always gets some laughs when I say it to clients and to witnesses I am preparing for testimony. I am not encouraging them to lie under oath; quite the opposite. Instead I am telling them a fact of courtroom life-"there are going to be lies told, and you had better be prepared for them." I explain that the fact that people on the other side may lie, it does not allow lies on our side. My job, as a lawyer, is to ferret out those lies and expose them. Once a witness is revealed as a liar on a subject, the witnesses credibility on every subject is shot.
James Stewart, as a journalist and as a lawyer, has seen this epidemic grow. When the rich and powerful like Bill Clinton, Barry Bonds, Bernie Madoff think nothing of rising their right hands, swearing to tell the truth, and lying through their teeth, something has gone terribly wrong. But although James Stewart's excellent book focuses on the lies of the power elite, the truth is that perjury is probably the single-most common crime in America today. And as Stewart notes, its not just the witnesses, lawyers are often the enablers, the messengers of deceit, spreading the word, "we need you to say X". And when X is really Y, that is perjury.
So where does it stop? Hopefully the end begins now. Our nation cannot endure long if truth is simply a commodity, rather than a sacred flame that lights a democratic ideal.
And in spite of the participation of some lawyers in this culture of deception, many of my colleagues before the bar agree with me. When I tell my joke, most don't crack a smile.
Read this book and join the revolution.
In opening and concluding sections, the author ties the four stories together by shucking his customary objectivity for a jeremiade against perjury and official lying. He has passionate feelings on the subject that no doubt were part of the source of his energy that allowed him to so meticulously record these events. While I am more than sympathetic to his views on this point---in my case he is preaching to the choir---I did not find those parts of the book particularly persuasive; they are not the reason to buy it. This may be in part because of the very excellence---the irrefutable, closely documented objectivity---of the main body of the book. This is one book where reading just the first and last chapters is the exact opposite of what you should do.
Here is what I said in my first review: This book is compelling, and excellent read. He takes 4 case studies, and breaks down the events. Martha Stewart, Barry Bonds, Libby Scooter, and Bernie Madoff. Fascinating turn of events. I also thought Martha Stewart was an innocent "victim" of sorts, but no longer! And Bernie Madoll - how did the government screw that one up so badly? Barry Bonds and cohorts, what a disappointing discovery to see how tainted the athletics system is. Amazing read.