Books

The Smartest Guys in the Room This meticulously reported and compelling look at Enron's demise explores a company where ethics was a dirty word and ''greed the greatest motivator.'...The Smartest Guys in the RoomNonfiction This meticulously reported and compelling look at Enron's demise explores a company where ethics was a dirty word and ''greed the greatest motivator.'...2003-10-24

The Smartest Guys in the Room

Genre: Nonfiction; Author: Peter Elkind, Bethany McLean; Status: In Season

This meticulously reported and compelling look at Enron’s demise explores a company where ethics was a dirty word and ”greed the greatest motivator.” Enron’s top executives are so rapacious they make Gordon Gekko look like an altruist: The brilliant but arrogant president Jeff Skilling surrounded himself with ”egomaniacs, social misfits and backstabbers,” while CFO Andrew Fastow allegedly hid losses from questionable transactions in a web of byzantine accounting practices. McLean and Elkind (senior writers at EW sister magazine FORTUNE) make a convincing case that Enron’s misdeeds were abetted by weaselly outside accountants and sycophantic investment analysts. Though the book sometimes gets bogged down in jargon (”securitization”) and lengthy descriptions of ponderous negotiations, ”Guys” emerges as a cautionary tale about highfliers who weren’t as clever as they thought.

Originally posted October 24 2003 — 12:00 AM EDT

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