Power Failure by Mimi Swartz
The Inside Story of The Collapse of Enron

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Synopsis

“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 quoted [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 mode…

Power 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 America.

Written 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 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 more interested in playing diplomat and paving the road to a political career 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 more 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 pockets

An 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.
 

About Mimi Swartz

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MIMI SWARTZ is an executive editor at Texas Monthly and won a National Magazine Award in the public interest category in 1996. She has been a staff writer for The New Yorker and Talk, and has written for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, and Esquire. She lives in Houston with her husband and son.SHERRON WATKINS is a former Arthur Andersen accountant who joined Enron in 1993, working for the man who later became CFO, Andy Fastow. She worked in Enron’s finance group, its International company, and its Broadband division, before returning to work for Fastow as a vice president in corporate development. As a result of her memos to Ken Lay urging the company to change its accounting practices and restate its ear
 
Published March 25, 2003 by Crown Business. 416 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, Political & Social Sciences, Professional & Technical, Law & Philosophy, History, Romance. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Power Failure

The Guardian

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Infectious Greed: How Deceit and Risk Corrupted the Financial Markets by Frank Partnoy 320pp, Profile, £20 Power Failure: The Rise and Fall of Enron by Mimi Swartz (with Sherron Watkins) 320pp, Aurum, £14.99 The Support Economy: Why Corporations Are Failing Individuals and the Next E...

May 31 2003 | Read Full Review of Power Failure: The Inside Sto...

Publishers Weekly

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Although Watkins, the Enron executive who wrote the anonymous memo that blew the company's troubles wide open, is listed as this book's coauthor, the writing appears to be all Swartz.

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BC Books

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Watkins was the Enron vice president responsible for the now famous August 2001 memo to Ken Lay expressing concern for the health of Enron: “Has Enron become a risky place to work?

Jan 08 2007 | Read Full Review of Power Failure: The Inside Sto...

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