The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron

The Smartest Guys in the Room The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron There were dozens of books about Watergate but only All the President s Men gave readers the full story with all the drama and nuance and exclusive reporting And thirty years later if you re going

  • Title: The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron
  • Author: Bethany McLean Peter Elkind
  • ISBN: 9781591840534
  • Page: 402
  • Format: Paperback
  • There were dozens of books about Watergate, but only All the President s Men gave readers the full story, with all the drama and nuance and exclusive reporting And thirty years later, if you re going to read only one book on Watergate, that s still the one Today, Enron is the biggest business story of our time, and Fortune senior writers Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind aThere were dozens of books about Watergate, but only All the President s Men gave readers the full story, with all the drama and nuance and exclusive reporting And thirty years later, if you re going to read only one book on Watergate, that s still the one Today, Enron is the biggest business story of our time, and Fortune senior writers Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind are the new Woodward and Bernstein.Remarkably, it was just two years ago that Enron was thought to epitomize a great New Economy company, with its skyrocketing profits and share price But that was before Fortune published an article by McLean that asked a seemingly innocent question How exactly does Enron make money From that point on, Enron s house of cards began to crumble Now, McLean and Elkind have investigated much deeper, to offer the definitive book about the Enron scandal and the fascinating people behind it.Meticulously researched and character driven, Smartest Guys in the Room takes the reader deep into Enron s past and behind the closed doors of private meetings Drawing on a wide range of unique sources, the book follows Enron s rise from obscurity to the top of the business world to its disastrous demise It reveals as never before major characters such as Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, and Andy Fastow, as well as lesser known players like Cliff Baxter and Rebecca Mark Smartest Guys in the Room is a story of greed, arrogance, and deceit a microcosm of all that is wrong with American business today Above all, it s a fascinating human drama that will prove to be the authoritative account of the Enron scandal.

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      Published :2018-08-26T00:50:06+00:00

    1 thought on “The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron”

    1. Great ExpectationsThis is the definitive case history of the demise of the most admired company in America. What it demonstrates is the the failure of Enron, although facilitated by the greed and moral indifference that is typical in corporate life, was at root down to its excellence in precisely that set of skills for which it was most admired: corporate finance.Jeff Skilling, a former McKinsey colleague of mine, was the 'vector' by which the infectious scourge of financial theory found its way [...]

    2. In the mid to late 90's, Houston based company Enron shone brightly as the pin up boy of corporate America. At it's peak in August 2000 it had over 20,000 employees world wide, projected revenue of $101 billion and a share price that hit an all time high $90. Fast forward just over a year and the unthinkable had happened with the company filing for bankruptcy as it share price ended the year at a disastrous $0.30.The story of how Enron collapsed so quickly is one of corporate greed and deregulat [...]

    3. That I am an internal auditor at a major oil and gas company undoubtedly contributed to my interest in this book. Nonetheless, McLean and Elkind's ability to present a convoluted and complex topic in an intriguing way culminate in this page-turner that anyone with even a moderate interest in business, accounting, economics, or current affairs will enjoy. The authors strike an effective balance between providing the nitty-gritty details of the accounting, the bigger picture, and the gossip. In ma [...]

    4. The Smartest Guys In the Room is a well-written, well-researched attempt to unravel the financial shenanigans that led to Enron’s bankruptcy. It’s a compelling (and sometimes soapy) indictment of the worst side of business, and it queasily foreshadows the financial crisis of 2008.I can’t say enough about how well McLean and Elkind present the material in this book, but the fact remains that (a) it’s really, really long, and (b) it’s about finance. I learned a lot about securitization ( [...]

    5. A solid 3 stars but a book I find difficult to recommend.At its heart this is a story of several dislikable Icaruses (Icari?) with a Greek chorus consisting of the Enron trading employees. Unfortunately, to get to that story you must wade through much accounting arcana. The accounting aspects are central to the story so I don’t think there’s an easy way around it.While the book deserves credit for being the first comprehensive telling of the Enron debacle, 12+ years after it was first publis [...]

    6. I had read about the scandalous fall of Enron while studying in graduation but it was just a news for me that time which was like any other news in the business page. It was much later that I started seeing the refernce of Enron in various corporate stories while reading and that is how my curiousity started building. And i must confess I would have never ever understood the significance of the entire Enron story if not for this great book. Enron has gone on to become a master case study to set [...]

    7. Another excellent work that provides insight into how financial incentive regimes (Regulations, Markets, Competitor Behavior)influence the actions of micro-players (CEO's, divisional managers, etc) in the business world.Enron's collapse is a case study of what can go wrong in an economic system that lacks adequate checks and balances coupled with the increasing disempowerment of other important economic actors (labor unions etc). Unfortunately whatever lessons have been learned from Enron have y [...]

    8. Detailed history of Enron from its foundation to collapse, with particular attention paid to the critical characters (Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, Andrew Fastow, etc.) Interesting if you think fall of Enron is an interesting subject (I do, but don't blame you if you don't). My biggest takeaway was the question of whether getting "the smartest guys" all together in a room will lead to good results, since it was clearly such a catastrophe in this case. And, if getting the smartest guys together in a [...]

    9. I never thought accounting would provide so much entertainment. Since I knew little of exactly what occurred with Enron I wanted to give this a shot and it did not disappoint.

    10. I enjoyed the documentary based on this book when it came out a few years ago and the book is fantastic as well. The book goes into a lot of detail about the chaotic profit-obsessed groundwork that led to the eventual scandals at the company. For example, years before their bankruptcy, Enron became so enamored with hotshots from Ivy League schools that they started ONLY hiring hotshot Ivy Leaguers who wanted to close big deals but had no interest in doing the grunt work necessary to make those d [...]

    11. The Smartest Guys in the Room is a very well researched and exhaustive account (haha, see what I did there?) of, as the subtitle suggests, the rise and fall of Enron. The book does a very good job of explaining the history of the company, Ken Lay's involvement in it, and his mentality and motivations. I did find that the middle of the book dragged on a little too much; after 200 pages of examples of different special purpose entities designed to hide Enron's debt, I didn't need another example. [...]

    12. This book is a must for just about everyone. It reads like a novel, but unfortunately its all non- fiction. This book proves that truth is sometimes stranger than fiction.For anyone who has an interest in protecting your wealth and hard earned money, this is a must reead. I learned how important it is how your personal actions and behaviours can have such a detrimental affect not only to those around you but way beyond those that might seem unafected. The enron scandal was something that everyon [...]

    13. I watched the documentary based on this book, and while it was entertaining (in a sad, "how the hell do they get away with this sort of stuff" kind of way), 110 minutes is nowhere near enough time to unwind all of the chicanery and manipulation at the heart of the Enron scandal. The book, I'm happy to say, is far more comprehensive. And yet, although dealing with potentially dense, head-scratching issues of the structuring of complex financial instruments, it manages to be a compelling, dare i s [...]

    14. Very well-researched and detailed book, sometimes too detailed. It's pretty well-written, but I gave it three stars because you can really get bogged down in the all the financial mumbo-jumbo. It's also kind of exhausting to read because you will be irritated by how arrogant and stupid the Enron leaders were, and as they make the same mistakes over and over, it's easy to lose interest as a reader. If you are someone who really likes reading about financial markets and business, though, this will [...]

    15. A great depiction of one of the biggest example, in modern history, of the "mafia" evolution to the highest levels, where the street violence and the low-level crime become high volume bribery and financial crimes that are capable of hitting way more people than the mob of the 70s.I read the book in a few months very interesting but hard to follow between so many numbers, episodes and not an easy narrative plot. When I was done with it I found the documentary on Netflix and after those 2 hours I [...]

    16. "Smartest Guys" provides a fascinating look inside a very troubled company. Some of the explanations of the various financial instruments that Enron used are a little hard to follow, but I suspect even accounting and finance professionals had similar problems with Enron's machinations. The authors do a great job highlighting the main personalities involved in the fraud, and they keep the narrative moving even through the most complex periods in Enron's history.

    17. Get ready for a lot of really minute details about business deals, 480 pages of them. But they're all needed to build up the full story of what actually happened at Enron and that overall story is well worth the slog! Highly recommend.

    18. An excellent summation of one of the most complex court case/bankruptcy/fraud. The book starts with the author comparing himself to Woodward and Bernstein's "All the President's men" which I found a bit presumptuous and set off a red flag. But after reading the book, I have to agree a bit with the analogy. While there's obvious differences (the author isn't even found in the book. Company versus government. Mildly complex but easy to understand vs. "WTF" levels of complexity" The comparison actu [...]

    19. It all started with Enron. Before the banking crises that saw Lemhan Brothers file for the biggest bankruptcy in history, the word "Enron" was synonymous with failed business of a scale never heard of before. The book is written in a gripping manner that is both easy to read without wallowing in the intricacies of its financial machinations, and delves into the personalities and politics of people who scammed the business. You will be shaking your head in anger at the sort of money we are talkin [...]

    20. What an adventure. In short, the book describes the key players, their personalities, ambitions, and background, along with the financial forces at work that created the culture of Enron and thus the seeds for its dramatic rise and fall. While a bit more background on the history of Northern Natural Gas (predecessor of Enron) would have been interesting, the book does a great job of describing the various markets that Enron entered (from securitizing natural gas futures to the attempts to do the [...]

    21. This book is generally acknowledged to be the definitive account on Enron and the creative accounting era. And it is a truly overwhelming piece of research.In contrast with "Barbarians", "When Genius Failed" or the more recent "Billionaire's Apprentice", it does not read like a narrative, and that's because it really can't. Enron was a lot more complex than a single transaction or a single hedge fund. It was an agglomeration of businesses, each with its own specific character. You can't go over [...]

    22. It's hard to believe that Enron declared bankruptcy almost 14 years ago now; the wound of it is still pretty fresh in collective consciousness. The rise and fall of this American company will stand for a long time as one of the great tales of economic hubris. Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind were the financial journalists who first broke the Enron story and this book is their definitive account of the whole sordid thing.I've previously seen the documentary film based on this book, so much of what [...]

    23. A case of study of infuriating capitalist greed, megalomania, and sociopathic tendencies, that would be the top brass of Enron. This book is well researched and brings all the players of the (at the time) largest bankruptcy in U.S. history into perspective. "The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron" written by Bethany McLean (a superb investigative journalist) brings you right into the boardroom (if you want to call it that) and shows what a group of A-type pe [...]

    24. What a book. There was so much going on at Enron, it was fucked up in so many ways. What a dysfunctional company. The contents of this book could be fodder for all sorts of useful lessons, such as: - Role of management in a public company: Public cheerleader, booster of stock value or steward of the company's assets? Can we put Friedmanism to bed?- Business ethics: whether not doing something strictly illegal is the full extent of moral responsibility - Employee incentives: What happens when you [...]

    25. A well researched account of the key events and actors in the Enron saga. A book that every corporate executive ought to read every few years so that they are reminded that once the line is crossed, it is forgotten and there is no turning back. Unsurprisingly, despite the amount of press coverage that the scandal got, there seem to be a number of similar events over the last decade. What should worry us is that we now have a breed of executives in corporations, banks, consulting firms, law firms [...]

    26. If you ever wondered how Enron went so quickly from darling of Wall Street to a bankrupt shell of a company, this is the book for you. You will read how a company fell victim to the greed of it's leaders and along the way wiped out the life savings of numerous employees and stockholders who were conned into believing that unbelievable income growth will go on forever. What they didn't realize was that the growth was all the result of accounting parlor tricks that treated borrowed money as profit [...]

    27. I remember when Enron was flying high and on every wall street analysts "Strong Buy" list. I looked at it a few times then and could not understand the valuation - so stayed away. This company not only destroyed itself, but took Arthur Anderson down with it. This is a good post-mortem and detailed look at what went wrong. On balance a fascinating read for people interested in business, economics, history and human nature in general.

    28. Bethany McLean has written the classic U. S. business Who-Done-It. This is the best business dissection written in the last thirty years. Her superb tactical reach and ability to comb out minute details is amazing and seals the deal when read end to end. Somewhat perversely, the book has made me a fan of the brilliant but crooked mastermind, Jeff Skilling. Of course, if I had lost money on Enron . . .

    29. Fascinating and insightful book into the "rise and fall of Enron." The author does a good job of presenting an increasingly intricate web of facts and circumstances, much of which is jaw dropping in scope. While the scale of the fraud and bad acts boggles the mind, I do think that a lot of legitimate business got tainted by author's paint brush, but that is a small criticism in an otherwise well-researched, well-written book. Highly recommended for those interested.

    30. Great book that I could not put down. Such an unbelievable story that is only too believable. I worked for Price Waterhouse in the 90s and saw some of these shenanigans on a much smaller scale (I'm sure there was plenty I did not see). Ultimately I blame Anderson for allowing all they allowed. They were bullied and they were too weak to manage their client in the name of billable hours.

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