After the shocking collapse of Enron in fall, 2001 came an equally shocking series of disclosures about how America's seventh-largest company had destroyed itself. There were unethical deals, offshore accounts, and accounting irregularities. There were Wall Street analysts who seemed to have been asleep on the job. There were the lies top executives told so that they could line their own pockets while workers and shareholders lost billions.
But after all these disclosures, the question remains: Why? Why did a thriving, innovative company with rock-solid cash flow and reliable earnings suddenly flame out in a maelstrom of corruption, fraud and skulduggery? The answer, Texas business journalist Robert Bryce reveals in this incisive and entertaining book, is that bad business practices begin with human beings. Pipe Dreams traces Enron's astounding transformation from a small regional gas pipeline company into an energy Goliath...and then tracks step-by-step, business decision by business decision, extra-marital affair by extra-marital affair, how, when and why the culture of Enron began to go rotten, and who was responsible.
The story of Enron's fall isn't just a story about accounting procedures; it's a story about people. Bryce tells that story with all the personality, passion, humor, and inside dope you'd hope for, and the result is an un-putdownable read in the tradition of Barbarians at the Gate and The Predators' Ball.
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Robert Bryce spent twelve years as a reporter for the Austin Chronicle and was most recently a senior writer at Interactive Week. He has published more than 800 articles for publications including The New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Talk, Texas Monthly, U. S. News & World Report, and Salon. He lives in Austin, Texas. PublicAffairs will publish his new book, Cronies, in spring 2004.From Publishers Weekly:
Finally, an Enron book that actually explains what happened at Enron. Bryce, an Austin, Tex., journalist familiar with the energy and telecommunications industries, offers a colorful account of the most spectacular corporate self-destruction in American history. Tracing the company's history, he shows how deal-focused executives like CEO Jeff Skilling transformed a fiscally responsible energy supplier into an out-of-control trading firm. He describes risky practices, like "mark-to-market" accounting and shell corporations, in clear, concise language that doesn't confuse readers who don't have MBAs. The book relies heavily on good ol' boy colloquialisms (e.g., "If [George W.] Bush had been any more simpatico to Enron, he could've been charged with a misdemeanor under the state of Texas' buggery laws") but backs up every unusual assertion, revealing, for example, connections between Bush and Enron going back to the mid-1980s. Not that Democrats were innocent; there's also extensive coverage on what Enron got from government agencies during the Clinton administration. While the emphasis on sexual misconduct among the top brass and its correlation to the financial shenanigans is arguable, Bryce makes a reasonable case for former chairman Ken Lay's unwillingness to control his staff's behavior-and inability to lead by example. This isn't just the first book to make sense out of the debacle; it's a vivid cautionary tale about the consequences of the lurid excesses-personal and professional-of the recently ended economic bubble, where corporations and their employees were so obsessed with acquiring wealth they became "dumber than a box of hammers" about making-and saving-money.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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