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The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron

The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of ENRON. With a New Forew. by Joe Nocera

Bethany McLean, Peter Elkind

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  • The Smartest Guys in the Room

    Penguin Books UK

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The tenth-anniversary edition of the definitive account of the Enron scandal, updated with a new chapter

The Enron scandal brought down one of the most admired companies of the 1990s. Countless books and articles were written about it, but only The Smartest Guys in the Room holds up a decade later as the definitive narrative. For this tenth anniversary edition, McLean and Elkind have revisited the fall of Enron and its aftermath, in a new chapter that asks why Enron still matters. They also reveal the fates of the key players in the scandal.

"The best book about the Enron debacle to date."

"The authors write with power and finesse. Their prose is effortless, like a sprinter floating down the track."
-USA Today

"Well-reported and well-written."
-Warren Buffett

Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind collaborated on this book when they both were Fortune senior writers. McLean, a former investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs, is now a contributing editor to Vanity Fair and lives in Chicago. Elkind, an award-winning investigative reporter, is now an editor-at-large for Fortune and lives in Fort Worth, Texas.


Einband Taschenbuch
Seitenzahl 480
Altersempfehlung ab 18 Jahr(e)
Erscheinungsdatum 26.11.2013
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-1-59184-660-4
Verlag Penguin US
Maße (L/B/H) 22.8/15.1/4.3 cm
Gewicht 505 g
Auflage 10th Anniversary Ed.


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  • On a cool Texas night in late January, Cliff Baxter slipped out of bed. He stuffed pillows under the covers so his sleeping wife wouldn't notice he was gone. Then he stepped quietly through his large suburban Houston home, taking care not to awaken his two children. The door alarm didn't make a sound as he entered the garage; he'd disabled the security system before turning in. Then, dressed in blue jogging slacks, a blue T-shirt, and moccasin slippers, he climbed into his new black Mercedes-Benz S500 and drove out into the night.

    At 43, John Clifford Baxter, the son of a Long Island policeman, had made it big in Texas. Before quitting his job eight months earlier, he had served as vice chairman of a great American corporation, capping a decade-long career as the company's top deal maker. Baxter was rich, too-thanks to a generous helping of stock options, a millionaire many times over. But as he cruised the empty streets of Sugar Land, Texas, Baxter was drowning in dark thoughts. Always given to mood swings, he had become deeply depressed in recent days, consumed by the spectacular scandal that had engulfed his old company.

    Everyone seemed to be after him. A congressional committee had already called; the FBI and SEC would surely be next. Would he have to testify against his friends? The plaintiffs' lawyers had named him as a defendant in a huge securities-fraud suit. Baxter was convinced they were having him tailed-and rummaging through his family's trash. Then there was the media, pestering him at home a dozen or more times a day: Did he know what had gone wrong? How could America's seventh-biggest company just blow up? Where had the billions gone? No one, at this early stage, viewed Baxter as a major player in the company's crash. Yet he took it all personally. In phone calls and visits with friends, he railed for hours about the scandal's taint. It's as if "they're calling us child molesters," he complained. "That will never wash off."

    Desperate to get away, he'd spent part of the previous week sailing in the Florida Keys. Sailing was one of Baxter's passions. For years, he'd decompressed floating on Galveston Bay aboard his 72-foot yacht, Tranquility Base. But he'd sold the boat several months earlier. When Baxter returned from Florida, his doctor prescribed antidepressants and sleeping pills and told him to see a psychiatrist. He'd called the shrink's office that day to make an appointment. But when the receptionist explained that the schedule was booked until February, Baxter hung up-he wasn't going to wait that long.

    Less than 48 hours later, at about 2:20 A.M. on January 25, 2002, Baxter stopped his Mercedes on Palm Royale Boulevard, a mile and a half from his home. It was cloudy and a bit chilly that evening by Texas standards-about 48 degrees-but the sedan was tuned to an interior temperature of precisely 79. An open package of Newport Lights sat in the center console, a bottle of Evian water in the cup holder. Baxter's black leather wallet lay on the passenger seat. Baxter parked the car in the middle of the street, with the doors locked, the engine running, and the headlights burning. Then he lifted a silver .357 Magnum revolver to his right temple and fired a bullet into his head.


    Seven days later, Cliff Baxter's friends from Enron gathered to mourn. The Houston energy giant's collapse into bankruptcy had already become the biggest scandal of the new century. Baxter's death had stoked the media bonfire and tossed a fresh element of tragedy into a bubbling stewpot of intrigue. Enron's influence ranged widely-from Wall Street to the White House. So feared was this company, so powerful were its connections, so much was at stake that there was open speculation Baxter had actually been murdered-the target of a carefully staged hit, aimed at silencing him from spilling Enron's darkest secrets. The rumblings had forced the Sugar Land police department t