Peter Elkind, an investigative reporter who won several acclamations and awards for his contribution in the reporting is editor at large at Fortune magazine and co writer of “The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron”. This graduate of Princeton University has also authored “The Death Shift”, The True crime book depicting the Story of the Texas Baby Murders and killer Nurse Genene Jones and “Rough Justice”. He has also rendered his services for some reputed newspapers and magazines like The New York Times Magazine, Fortune, The Washington Post and Texas Monthly.
Bethany McLean is a journalist and rendered her services for Wall Street and worked as an editor at large with fortune. Her contribution in the field of media is well acclaimed and recognized, especially for her works on Enron scandal episode and financial crisis of 2008. She is an English graduate of Williams College. She has also worked as an investment banker for Goldman sachs. She was married to Chris wilford and after divorcing him, later married to Sean berkowitz. Bethany has co authored “The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron” and “All the devils are here”. Apart from writing, Bethany has made appearances on television and written for several magazines and news papers.
The book, The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron throw the light on Jeff skilling, Andrew fastow, Kenneth Lay and the financial deals of Enron. The company went bankrupt in the year of 2001and crumpled later but it was just a beginning and a series of scandalous activities were revealed.
The authors, then working as reporters in fortune revealed all the financial frauds and tactics of the company. They collected all the events and presented them in such an impressive way that the book became a famous business novel. On December 2nd 200, enroll filed a petition for bankruptcy after failing in several efforts of the company towards mergers and acquisitions. After the filing of this petition, some financial irregularities were traced and the auditor, Arthur Anderson was found guilty of destructing the evidence by a court. A thorough probe suggested that there are more stories of financial manipulations to be revealed. All the big guns and their nexus with other tycoons were known to the people and a number of people also got punishments for their involvement in the scandalous activities.
The book portrays the corporate functioning, the ongoing financial manipulations and also informs about the corporate nexuses with politicians as well as tycoons of other fields. In the book, the CEO, COO and chairman of the company have been shown manipulating the accounts of the company just to show the investors that the company’s performance is excellent and it is making tremendous profits. The company officials used three tricks to befool the investors and public – borrowings, issuing stocks and structured finance. These tricks helped them in keeping the price of shares up and inspired other investors to invest further in the company. All the persons, involved in this episode made huge money but their selfishness and clash of interests landed them into trouble and this time they could not befool others.
At the end of day, Kenneth Lay, also the founder of Enron, died awaiting his sentence for the conspiracy and fraud. Jeffery skilling, CEO of the Enron, got severe punishments for instraining, fraud, conspiracy and false statements by the court. Andrew fastow, the CFO pled guilty for his involvement in fraudulent activities and was sentenced a prison term for ten years. Richard causay, CAO of Enron pled guilty for fraudulent acts and imprisoned for seven years and also a heavy economic penalty of $ 1.25 million was imposed upon him.
The book is very successful in its motive and got a massive response from the readers. It presents a very articulate account of the Enron frauds and the consequences of the whole affair. Both the authors have used their investigative and reporting skills and made this book a unique piece of investigative journalism. The book is very interesting also, as it carries all the tricks, backstabbing, greed and sex as its part.
Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind. The smartest guys in the room: the amazing rise and scandalous fall of Enron. London: Portfolio, 2003.