CONSPIRACY OF FOOLS

Kurt Eichenwald, Author . Broadway $26 (768p) ISBN 978-0-7679-1178-8

This enormous, intimate blow-by-blow of Enron's implosion gets as close to what actually happened, in terms of people making (bad) decisions in real time, as anyone who wasn't there with a concealed video-phone possibly could. Having combed endless documents and interviewed countless principals and peripherals, Eichenwald (The Informant ) presents short declarative sentences (and lots of sentence fragments) that may have run through the heads of men like top executives Skilling, Lay and Fastow as they managed to cook a very large set of books, as well as men like Stuart Zisman, a lawyer in the firm's wholesale division who wrote an early memo titled "Overall Book Manipulation" that stated "the majority of investments being introduced to Raptor are bad ones." Eichenwald's bald depictions ("Skilling sank deeper into depression"; "It couldn't be true, [Anderson partner Tom] Bauer thought") make for real tension. Collegial meetings at the White House with Dick Cheney, Colin Powell and others; charged conference calls with skeptical investors; endless buy-ins, buyouts and acronyms—all are presented in a rat-a-tat style thick with corporate anxiety, keeping pages turning even as the details themselves are numbing. (Luckily, Eichenwald includes a "Cast of Characters" and "List of Deals" so that readers can remind themselves of past carnage.) As an unadorned attempt to get into the heads of some major manipulators, this book can hardly be bettered. (On sale Mar. 8)

Reviewed on: 01/10/2005
Release date: 03/01/2005
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FORMATS
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7393-1768-6
Paperback - 746 pages - 978-0-7679-1179-5
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-2449-3
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-1769-3
Book - 1 pages - 978-0-7393-5336-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 352 pages - 978-0-7679-1180-1
Compact Disc - 978-1-4159-1666-7
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