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Power Failure

The late 1990s At the dawn of the new century Ken Lay’s and Jeff Skilling's faces graced the covers of business magazines and Enron’s money oiled the political machinery behind George W Bush’s election campaign But as Wall Street analysts sang Enron’s praises and its stock spiraled dizzyingly into the stratosphere the company’s leaders were madly scrambling to manufacture illusory profits hide its ballooning debt and bully Wall Street into buying its fictional accounting and off balance sheet investment vehicles The story of Enron’s fall is a morality tale writ large performed on a stage with an unforgettable array of props and side plots from parking lots overflowing with Boxsters and BMWs to hot house office affairs and executive tantrums Among the cast of characters Mimi Swartz and Sherron Watkins observe with shrewd Texas eyes and an insider’s perspective are CEO Ken Lay Enron’s “outside face” who was interested in playing diplomat and paving the road to a political career. If you lived through the late 1990 s and early 2000 s you may be aware of the basic headline grabbing story of Enron A small energy company who s core business was in pipelines and natural gas grew over the late 80 s and 90 s into the world s largest energy company who invented the idea of the energy trading market Through uestionable accounting poor criminal decisions and a culture that pushed everybody to make as much money as they could however they could the company eventually imploded crashing so far that the company never recovered Today Enron if people know it at all or even hear the name see the company s story as a cautionary tale at best or as a laughing stock suitable only as the butt of jokesMimi Swartz along with Sherron Watkins an Enron employee and the one held up in the press as the whistle blower who helped shed light on the company and presaged it s fall from power tells the story of Enron from before it s founding through it s rise and dominance and then the eventual fall Mimi shows us who Ken Lay Jeff Skilling Andy Fastow and the other leaders of Enron were and what drove them Usually greed Effort is taken to show how driven the company was to make money at all costs how this culture spread throughout the company and the many times that uestionable decisions were taken The story is interesting because of how willing so many people were to overlook uestionable practices in time these became illegal practices because of greed and a feeling that Enron didn t have to abide by the rules because they made them Even people who didn t get rich went along with decisions or were bullied into them and as long as people were getting rich they were willing to look the other way In that sense Power Failure is an interesting look at the kind of thinking that can easily dominate a company allowing small problems to snowball into the kind of issues that can take a company down It is important to learn this lesson because many times it is the ordinary worker who suffers the most while those at the top manage to avoid any responsibility for their actions In the case of Enron and not covered in the book because the cases were still pending at the time of publication Lay Skilling Fastow and others were all indited and convicted on charges of fraud conspiracy and insider trading For this reason alone it is important to remember the Enron story to make sure that business leaders are held accountable Mimi makes a mostly balanced look at the company trying to show it dispassionately Some might feel that including Sherron Watkins in the narrative gives a decidedly negative or one sided view of the company However I found that Sherron s story and inside knowledge of the company helped to make the company and the people there especially upper management relateable Without that perspective it would be hard for somebody who wasn t an employee to really understand let alone comprehend what went on at EnronI would recommend Power Failure for anybody who is in management or business as a cautionary tale While the events may seem like ancient history and Power Failure itself was written nearly 18 years ago the story of Enron is an important one for readers of US history as the demise of the company has had far reaching repercussions in accounting and finance The Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 was a direct result of Enron s fiasco Fabriuer sa lessive son dentifrice son shampoing ses produits d'entretien jokesMimi Swartz along with Sherron Watkins an Enron employee and the one held up in the press as the whistle blower who helped shed light on the company and presaged it s fall from power tells the story of Enron from before it s founding through it s rise and dominance and then the eventual fall Mimi shows us who Ken Lay Jeff Skilling Andy Fastow and the other leaders of Enron were and what drove them Usually greed Effort is taken to show how driven the company was to make money at all costs how this culture spread throughout the company and the many times that uestionable decisions were taken The story is interesting because of how willing so many people were to overlook uestionable practices in time these became illegal practices because of greed and a feeling that Enron didn t have to abide by the rules because they made them Even people who didn t get rich went along with decisions or were bullied into them and as long as people were getting rich they were willing to look the other way In that sense Power Failure is an interesting look at the kind of thinking that can easily dominate a company allowing small problems to snowball into the kind of issues that can take a company down It is important to learn this lesson because many times it is the ordinary worker who suffers the most while those at the top manage to avoid any responsibility for their actions In the case of Enron and not covered in the book because the cases were still pending at the time of publication Lay Skilling Fastow and others were all indited and convicted on charges of fraud conspiracy and insider trading For this reason alone it is important to remember the Enron story to make sure that business leaders are held accountable Mimi makes a mostly balanced look at the company trying to show it dispassionately Some might feel that including Sherron Watkins in the narrative gives a decidedly negative or one sided view of the company However I found that Sherron s story and inside knowledge of the company helped to make the company and the people there especially upper management relateable Without that perspective it would be hard for somebody who wasn t an employee to really understand let alone comprehend what went on at EnronI would recommend Power Failure for anybody who is in management or business as a cautionary tale While the events may seem like ancient history and Power Failure itself was written nearly 18 years ago the story of Enron is an important one for readers of US history as the demise of the company has had far reaching repercussions in accounting and finance The Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002 was a direct result of Enron s fiasco

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“They’re still trying to hide the weenie” thought Sherron Watkins as she read a newspaper clipping about Enron two weeks before Christmas 2001 It uoted CFO Jeff McMahon addressing the company’s creditors and cautioning them against a rash judgment “Don’t assume that there is a smoking gun”Sherron knew Enron well enough to know that the company was in extreme spin modePower Failure is the electrifying behind the scenes story of the collapse of Enron the high flying gas and energy company touted as the poster child of the New Economy that in its hubris had aspired to be “The World’s Leading Company” and had briefly been the seventh largest corporation in AmericaWritten by prizewinning journalist Mimi Swartz and substantially based on the never before published revelations of former Enron vice president Sherron Watkins as well as hundreds of other interviews Power Failure shows the human face beyond the greed arrogance and raw ambition that fueled the company’s meteoric rise in. Power Failure is the third book I ve read on the Enron scandal so far and complete with some humorous uotes it manages to be entertaining while still telling the true story of what happened and not dramatizing anything It s one of those stories that s so sad and so weird all at the same time a massive company ahead of its time in marketing and advertising anyone remember the Ask Why commercials committing fraud in a way so blatant it seems almost implausible You ve gotta admire the company s ability to pull the wool over everyone s eyes but hate it all at once

REVIEW ñ JIMFORD.CO.UK Ö Mimi Swartz

Than in managing Enron’s high testosterone anything goes culture; Jeff Skilling the mastermind behind Enron’s mercenary trading culture who transformed himself from a nerdy executive into the personification of millennial cool; Rebecca Mark the savvy and seductive head of Enron’s international division who was Skilling’s sole rival to take over the company; and Andy Fastow whose childish pranks early in his career gave way to something far destructive Desperate to be a player in Enron’s deal making trader oriented culture Fastow transformed Enron’s finance department into a “profit center” creating a honeycomb of financial entities to bolster Enron’s “profits” while diverting tens of millions of dollars into his own pocketsAn unprecedented chronicle of Enron’s shocking collapse Power Failure should take its place alongside the classics of previous decades – Barbarians at the Gate and Liar’s Poker – as one of the cautionary tales of our times From the Hardcover edition. Good book Well written


10 thoughts on “Power Failure

  1. says:

    Power Failure is the third book I've read on the Enron scandal so far and complete with some humorous uotes it manages to be entertaining while still telling the true story of what happened and not dramatizing anything It's one of those stories that's so sad and so weird all at the same time a massive company ahead of its time in

  2. says:

    Update My wife and I just finished watching Enron The Smartest Guys in the Room an excellent documentary made in 2005 I r

  3. says:

    Watkins wasn't a whistle blowershe saw the fraud at Enron told Ken Lay about itand when he told her to be uiet about itSHE COMPLIED GOT A PROMOTION Conspiracy of Fools is an infinitely better book

  4. says:

    Given that Power Failure was written with Sherron Watkins a player of sorts in the situation I expected it to have some uniue insights but to b

  5. says:

    So a couple weeks back an online friend asked me just what the fraud at Enron was As I was unsatisfied with the a

  6. says:

    If you lived through the late 1990's and early 2000's you may be aware of the basic headline grabbing story of Enron A sm

  7. says:

    As the third Enron book I have read it added little to what I already knew about the company But if this is your first book on Enron then it will reveal everything about the Houston based company and its culture In any case the book

  8. says:

    Good book Well written

  9. says:

    Great inside look at how a company could soar so high and then crash down due to a CFO thinking he could game the system in

  10. says:

    Wow It is said that money and power are the root of all evil This book proves that assertion It is unbelievable to me unfathomable actually that human beings are as greedy and narcissistic as described in this bo

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