Anatomy of Greed

  • by Brian Cruver
  • Narrated by Mel Foster
  • 10 hrs and 47 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Brian Cruver first entered the "Death Star," Enron's office complex, in March 2001. He was 29 years old, an eager MBA ready to cash in as a new hire with one of America's most highly valued companies. But, from his first day - when his new boss warned him, "there was a mix-up in the hiring process," but that it was "no big deal...just think of it like you're adopted" - to his last, when he and his colleagues were given 30 minutes to leave the building, Cruver found himself enmeshed in a business cult that each day grew only more bizarre. With dark humor and page-turning momentum, Cruver lays out firsthand: the giddy group-think nurtured by Enron's leadership, whose incessant cheerleading for the company's stock price rendered many Enronians unable to believe that they were routinely being spoon-fed lies; the "rank and yank" peer review process that fostered horse-trading among managers over which employees would be given poor evaluations; the traders who made dubious deals to ensure their own lucrative bonuses; and the sinister designs and funding of Enron's fraudulent off-the-books partnerships. As Cruver probes the sleazy escapades that Enron executives milked for personal gain, he introduces us, up close and personal, to such storied figures as Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, and Andy Fastow, along with other important Enron personalities like Rebecca Mark; Lou Pai; Thomas White, George W. Bush's Secretary of the Army; Joe Sutton; the "Mr. Blue", a disillusioned Enron executive; and Cruver's trading floor neighbor, a machine he christened "Sherman the Shredder" - who was always working overtime. Cruver's day-by-day chronicle, which includes a running stock ticker to show the trajectory of Enron's collapse, is instantly reminiscent of such bestsellers as Liar's Poker and Barbarians at the Gate. Told in a fresh, empathetic voice, Anatomy of Greed is brimming with grist for political pundits and comic relief for victims of corporate collateral damage. It is ...


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Good piercing explanations; lots of so-so filler

This book stays breezy and reasonably entertaining. Being an Enron junkie, I would not miss it. And from that vantage, I enjoyed it a lot. It walks us around the physical place and through the details and trivia (some weirdly Orwellian) an Enronian would know. Then it does swoop occasionally to interesting deeper views and overviews, glimpses much deeper into the heart of darkness, the real sickness of the culture and especially the (avowedly) atrocious foreign projects, mostly as spoken by a more senior acquaintance "Mister Blue" while the latter was drinking $50 double shots of top-of-the-line booze and presumably staring darkly into the void. Here one will get glimpses and hear summations I hadn't heard elsewhere. I had I thought of that phrase "heart of darkness" right before the author quoted Conrad's book.
The end sort of peters out as we join the parade of terminated employees in a not-atypical dreary wandering away from the scene, into job fairs and wasting time online. The only special thing is, this guy was mistakenly left in the payroll and had access to messages and the physical place, so more is revealed as the defunct "Death Star" spins into bankruptcy outer space.
Stating the stock price and volume, and big events, as the author's personal adventure progressed day by day, works well. As far his participation in anything, he was developing a financial risk management product along the lines of bankruptcy insurance (but not a CDS, apparently) that didn't make it to prime time in his tenure.
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- Phil O.

Compelling companion to your Enron library

Brian Cruver's book gives insight on the Enron scandal not found in other books, such as The Smartest Guys in the Room and Conspiracy of Fools. It's the insight of the low-level employee who just wants to go to work and be part of the Enron success story and ends up being a witness to/casualty of the collapse. It's helpful, but not essential, to read the other books first for details on the reasons why Enron fell apart because Cruver's take is more memoir than business analysis. You're not going to understand the ins and outs of the off-balance sheet transactions from reading this book alone. If that's your goal, read the others first. Having read the others and being ready to move past the financial minutiae, I found Cruver's take to be refreshingly lighter, snarkier and relatable.

His description of Enron employees helping each other with their resumes while watching ESPN on the expensive TV screens on the trading floor in the final days of the company's existence is both surreal and startlingly believable to anyone who's worked in corporate America. The narrator does an excellent job in matching the tone of Cruver's text. I actually rate him higher than the narrator of Conspiracy of Fools. If you have a fascination with the Enron story, as I do, this one is worth your time.

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- Patricia

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-17-2008
  • Publisher: Brilliance Audio