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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

What went wrong with American business at the end of the 20th century?

Until the spring of 2001, Enron epitomised the triumph of the New Economy. Feared by rivals, worshipped by investors, Enron seemingly could do no wrong. Its profits rose every year; its stock price surged ever upward; its leaders were hailed as visionaries. 

Then a young Fortune writer, Bethany McLean, wrote an article posing a simple question - how, exactly, does Enron make its money? 

Within a year Enron was facing humiliation and bankruptcy, the largest in US history, which caused Americans to lose faith in a system that rewarded top insiders with millions of dollars, while small investors lost everything. It was revealed that Enron was a company whose business was an illusion, an illusion that Wall Street was willing to accept even though they knew what the real truth was. This book tells the extraordinary story of Enron's fall.

©2020 Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about The Smartest Guys in the Room

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this when paired with the documentary is great!

loved it, one of those books you don't want to stop listening to. would recommend it to you

1 person found this helpful

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  • M.R.C
  • 06-11-2021

Lots of irrelevant detail

I started this book after listening to the masterpiece, Empire of pain by Patrick Radden Keefe. Keefe was tight and disciplined in his writing and only included illuminating anecdotes and details that helped form a golden thread from start to finish. Smartest guy in the room is filled with the most excruciating boring, irrelevant details that doesn’t help you understand context or individual characters. For example, the fact that a divorce proceeding lasted three hours, the dissection of academic qualifications. It is well narrated. Very well. This is the only redeeming factor. I am sending this one back it’s a time waster :(

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-05-2021

If you wanted a deep understanding, avoid

For many years, I’ve been intrigued by the collapse of large companies and Enron was definitely at the top of my interests. However, this book certainly did not help with my intrigue.

The book was more of a chronological commentary of what happened, but didn’t necessarily explain why or how. It doesn’t delve into understanding why Mark to Market Accounting was the issue, the relevance of the funds Fastow had created and it felt more like a Jeff Skilling biography than anything else.

It’s a let down in that respect, I found plenty of resources online that helped explain why and how, this book didn’t.

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  • Brian B.
  • 03-05-2021

A testament to greed

A fascinating expose of the biggest bankruptcy in US history. The accounting frauds are well explained, and were inevitably discovered. A great book , which was well read.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 21-11-2021

Still hard to believe they got away with it

The examples in this book of corporate and personal greed are eye-watering. Even several years on it’s still hard to believe the various checks and balances all failed, thereby allowing rogue senior execs and their accountants to wreak havoc at the expense of everyone except themselves

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  • Grid24
  • 06-08-2021

A lot of detail

If you want every detail of the fraud this is the book for you. Difficult to understand sometimes (search engine useful for further explanations) but on the whole everything was explained really well. Excellent narrator

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  • lordfofballymote
  • 30-07-2021

outstanding

sepremely well done I couldn't fault it and I'm fussy enjoy. narrator was superb essentially told as a story-- brilliant.

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  • Mr Guybrush Threepwood
  • 28-07-2021

By Far The Best Book I've Listened To

This is one long audiobook, but it literally had me gripped every chapter. The story is really well told and I loved the narrator. A must listen.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 18-04-2021

Great Listen!

Thoroughly enjoyed this book - quite long at 20 hrs but very engrossing. Crazy some of the things these guys got up to but very interesting all the same! Well worth a look.

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  • Alex
  • 20-02-2021

Thrilling, Chilling, Tragic

Hard work, brains, degrees, experience, confidence, technical jargon — a gripping reminder of the damage that can be done when such things combine with a toxic culture. This detailed investigation is a public service.

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