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Anatomy of Greed: The Unshredded Truth from an Enron Insider

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Brian Cruver was a firsthand witness to the disturbing, surreal, and hilarious moments of Enron's long dance with death. When he first entered Enron's office complex, "the Death Star," he was the epitome of the Enron employee: young, brash, sporting a shiny new MBA, and obscenely overpaid. From his first day, however, when he was told that some colleagues hadn't really wan Brian Cruver was a firsthand witness to the disturbing, surreal, and hilarious moments of Enron's long dance with death. When he first entered Enron's office complex, "the Death Star," he was the epitome of the Enron employee: young, brash, sporting a shiny new MBA, and obscenely overpaid. From his first day, however, when he was told that some colleagues hadn't really wanted to see him hired, he found himself in the middle of a venal greed machine whose story unfolded with all the absurdity and frustration of a tale by Kafka crossed with Tulipomania and Liar's Poker. While Cruver's book examines the accounting tricks, the insider stock trades—and in a special section, how the grossly lucrative fraudulent partnerships were structured and funded—it also describes everyday life as an Enronian—cocky wheeling and dealing, the sex 'n keg party on the trade floor, casual conversations at the shredder, and the insidious group-think that made Enron employees unquestioningly accept propaganda spoon-fed them by Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and others, such as Tom White, then Vice-Chairman of Enron Energy Services, now Secretary of the Army under George W. Bush. Part of a team with rare "double" access to both external customers and internal systems, Cruver reveals the twisted reality behind the world's perception of Enron as one of the world's great corporations. Demonstrating a clear understanding of how business issues intertwines with human foibles, Cruver exposes Enron's flaws in an entertaining way all readers can understand. A portrait of the author as a young Enronian, Anatomy of Greed reveals the sting of reality, humility, and pain felt by a man whose idols turned out to be fools and scoundrels, and who learned that there is more to life than stock options. Soon to be a TV/film drama, this is a gonzo chronicle that goes behind the scenes to chart the decline and fall of the world's weirdest and richest business cult.


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Brian Cruver was a firsthand witness to the disturbing, surreal, and hilarious moments of Enron's long dance with death. When he first entered Enron's office complex, "the Death Star," he was the epitome of the Enron employee: young, brash, sporting a shiny new MBA, and obscenely overpaid. From his first day, however, when he was told that some colleagues hadn't really wan Brian Cruver was a firsthand witness to the disturbing, surreal, and hilarious moments of Enron's long dance with death. When he first entered Enron's office complex, "the Death Star," he was the epitome of the Enron employee: young, brash, sporting a shiny new MBA, and obscenely overpaid. From his first day, however, when he was told that some colleagues hadn't really wanted to see him hired, he found himself in the middle of a venal greed machine whose story unfolded with all the absurdity and frustration of a tale by Kafka crossed with Tulipomania and Liar's Poker. While Cruver's book examines the accounting tricks, the insider stock trades—and in a special section, how the grossly lucrative fraudulent partnerships were structured and funded—it also describes everyday life as an Enronian—cocky wheeling and dealing, the sex 'n keg party on the trade floor, casual conversations at the shredder, and the insidious group-think that made Enron employees unquestioningly accept propaganda spoon-fed them by Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and others, such as Tom White, then Vice-Chairman of Enron Energy Services, now Secretary of the Army under George W. Bush. Part of a team with rare "double" access to both external customers and internal systems, Cruver reveals the twisted reality behind the world's perception of Enron as one of the world's great corporations. Demonstrating a clear understanding of how business issues intertwines with human foibles, Cruver exposes Enron's flaws in an entertaining way all readers can understand. A portrait of the author as a young Enronian, Anatomy of Greed reveals the sting of reality, humility, and pain felt by a man whose idols turned out to be fools and scoundrels, and who learned that there is more to life than stock options. Soon to be a TV/film drama, this is a gonzo chronicle that goes behind the scenes to chart the decline and fall of the world's weirdest and richest business cult.

30 review for Anatomy of Greed: The Unshredded Truth from an Enron Insider

  1. 5 out of 5

    Clare

    Listened to in audio format. Brian Cruver joined Enron the year before the company collapsed, his job was selling bankruptcy insurance to businesses. Brian explained the Enron culture, from the crooked E to the inspirational messages from the CEO played in the lifts. He also discussed his bosses shady business practices in Panama. I enjoyed the second part of the book before Enron stopped trading. Brian and his colleagues were still employed but had no work to do. For weeks they came into work sui Listened to in audio format. Brian Cruver joined Enron the year before the company collapsed, his job was selling bankruptcy insurance to businesses. Brian explained the Enron culture, from the crooked E to the inspirational messages from the CEO played in the lifts. He also discussed his bosses shady business practices in Panama. I enjoyed the second part of the book before Enron stopped trading. Brian and his colleagues were still employed but had no work to do. For weeks they came into work suited and booted only to spend their time updating their resumes and watching TV on the trading floor. Enron had a special computer deal so he managed to get a free computer and wireless courtesy of Enron. He also discussed the bosses shady business practices abroad When Brian was finally made redundant Enron continued to pay his salary, because Brian had not been given his severence pay he spent it on the advise of his lawyer. Enron claimed they had the most innovative employees and Brian proved this by selling off his Enron e-mails in bundles through E Bay. This was picked up by the media and Brian appeared in the N.Y. Times. If you are looking for an in-depth book explaining why Enron collapsed this book will not be for you. However this was a funny memoir which I will listen to again.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Eric_W

    Cruver was an inside witness to the greatest act of economic terrorism ever. Enron had hired nothing but the best and the brightest. They bragged about letting go 15% of the workforce every six months; those who could not measure up to the intense standards of competitiveness set by their colleagues and supervisors. Of course, this pressure has been suggested by some to be one of the root causes for the mendacity and rapaciousness that pervaded the Enron culture. It also provides another example Cruver was an inside witness to the greatest act of economic terrorism ever. Enron had hired nothing but the best and the brightest. They bragged about letting go 15% of the workforce every six months; those who could not measure up to the intense standards of competitiveness set by their colleagues and supervisors. Of course, this pressure has been suggested by some to be one of the root causes for the mendacity and rapaciousness that pervaded the Enron culture. It also provides another example of the shallowness of image. There was a huge gulf between Enron's stated corporate values and their actions. "Rarely has the difference between sermon and conduct been so dramatic. The contrast between Enron's moral mantra and the behavior of some Enron executives is bone-chilling. Indeed, the Enron saga teaches us the limitations of corporate codes of ethics: how empty and ineffectual they can be. . . . Among Enron's stated core values were respect, integrity, communication and excellence." In reality, the collapse revealed corporate greed and misbehavior at its worst. To make matters worse, accountants whose job it is to provide the certification of rectitude of financial documents provided the tools used by executives to steal. The famous business schools should look long and hard at the methods by which they delivered morally bankrupt MBAs almost totally lacking in any moral fiber. No one should have been surprised. It all started in the mid-eighties. Several Enron executives played fast and loose with the truth, and the result was an oil trading scandal. Ken Lay kept the executives on his staff. Talk abut a message to the employees. From then on, the only thing that mattered was getting the huge bonuses that depended on meeting certain targets. It didn't matter that the people hired to build the plants were completely inexperienced, or that Enron executives [ticked:] off citizens and governments where they were building plants. It was all about making a lot of money for themselves. Ironically, the nickname for the corporation was the "Death Star," and jokes about the "crooked" E symbol were rampant long before the collapse. The company created an arrogant culture that refused to hear any bad news and those who dared to suggest that things were not going well were transferred or removed. One executive had filed papers noting substantial cracks in a pipeline in Panama a year before gas leaks caused an explosion that killed more than thirty people. For his trouble, he was transferred to another project. Several of the executives went on to other jobs. For example, Tom White, then Vice-Chairman of Enron Energy Services, is now Secretary of the Army under George W. Bush. Scary thought. Enron was consistently ranked as one of the top companies and studied in business schools. What a shame no one was around to remind us the emperor was naked. Cruver's narrative is clear and suspenseful even though we know the outcome. He takes complicated financial instruments like derivatives and explains them in such a way that even a dumb lay person (pun intended) can understand them.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    Could possibly be a tell-all by an Enron insider, although this guy was so low-level that it would be comparable to learning about the demise of Montgomery Ward from one of the cashiers. The "all" he had to tell was not very much. Also, not well written. This guy just wanted to cash in with a publisher, and was quick on the ball. Could possibly be a tell-all by an Enron insider, although this guy was so low-level that it would be comparable to learning about the demise of Montgomery Ward from one of the cashiers. The "all" he had to tell was not very much. Also, not well written. This guy just wanted to cash in with a publisher, and was quick on the ball.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    Wow, this book provided a fascinating look at the destruction of the house of cards that was Enron. I remember hearing a lot about Enron on the news, but never really got a handle on what the company did or why it failed. While some portions of this book require a lot more knowledge of markets, business and analysis that I possess, the author provides a bird's eye view of the corporate greed and excess that have put America in it's current financial crisis. This book is still relevant and timely Wow, this book provided a fascinating look at the destruction of the house of cards that was Enron. I remember hearing a lot about Enron on the news, but never really got a handle on what the company did or why it failed. While some portions of this book require a lot more knowledge of markets, business and analysis that I possess, the author provides a bird's eye view of the corporate greed and excess that have put America in it's current financial crisis. This book is still relevant and timely.

  5. 5 out of 5

    David McClendon, Sr

    This is not your typical book about Enron. The book does not go into a bunch of detail about all the off balance sheet details, etc. that are written about in other books about Enron. This book was written by a former employee who joined Enron in the last year. He tells about all the excesses he saw and how things worked for him. Cruver tells us that the average employee did not even know who Andy Fastow was until all the feathers started flying. Cruver also provides a simplified explanation of w This is not your typical book about Enron. The book does not go into a bunch of detail about all the off balance sheet details, etc. that are written about in other books about Enron. This book was written by a former employee who joined Enron in the last year. He tells about all the excesses he saw and how things worked for him. Cruver tells us that the average employee did not even know who Andy Fastow was until all the feathers started flying. Cruver also provides a simplified explanation of what an SPE is and how off balance sheet deals work. In all, it was an enjoyable read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tania

    A very interesting memoir by a trader who was hired into Enron just 4 months before it imploded. If you are going to read only one book about Enron don't make it this one (read Conspiracy of Fools instead) or even the second one (that one should be Power Failure), but to round out knowing the facts about the large-scale events and players in this saga with the view from the trading floor up this book fits the bill. A very interesting memoir by a trader who was hired into Enron just 4 months before it imploded. If you are going to read only one book about Enron don't make it this one (read Conspiracy of Fools instead) or even the second one (that one should be Power Failure), but to round out knowing the facts about the large-scale events and players in this saga with the view from the trading floor up this book fits the bill.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Bindi

    I think Cruver has written it in a very elaborate and witty style. It shows the range of emotions that en Enron employee must've gone through before, during and after the debacle. An easy read, the writing style makes it easy for you to understand the intricacies of the financial details without getting bored. (I usually do 'cos I am not a finance fan). I think Cruver has written it in a very elaborate and witty style. It shows the range of emotions that en Enron employee must've gone through before, during and after the debacle. An easy read, the writing style makes it easy for you to understand the intricacies of the financial details without getting bored. (I usually do 'cos I am not a finance fan).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vera Rakhmani

    The minutes by minutes of Enron's colapse from its employee's perspective. The minutes by minutes of Enron's colapse from its employee's perspective.

  9. 4 out of 5

    C.

    For completists only.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rumble Press

    This is an early book on Enron. It is enjoyable, but a bit more simplistic than later books about Enron.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Marcus Zottola

    I happened to catch the TV movie rendition of this book. It was a surprisingly fascinating watch, though it had obvious low-grade components to it. Just the same, it made me more interested in the story of Enron, so I decided to pick up the audiobook. It's not as melodramatic as the movie was, which is probably a good thing. It is surprising how many details the movie got right, though, such as the stock price of the company being posted in the elevators for employees to see. (Obsessive and arrog I happened to catch the TV movie rendition of this book. It was a surprisingly fascinating watch, though it had obvious low-grade components to it. Just the same, it made me more interested in the story of Enron, so I decided to pick up the audiobook. It's not as melodramatic as the movie was, which is probably a good thing. It is surprising how many details the movie got right, though, such as the stock price of the company being posted in the elevators for employees to see. (Obsessive and arrogant much, Enron?) Regardless, it is an interesting account of Enron's collapse, filled with unusual stories about Mr. Cruver riding the wave as best he can. Sometimes it can be a bit dull-which is probably why the movie spruced things up with cheesy plot points and a generic lesson about greed-but it's pretty easy to follow and entertaining to listen to. I'd say give it a shot if you're interested in this sort of thing. And pay close attention at the end when Cruver gives his final explanation on greed. I find myself in agreement with him.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kehl Bayern

    Pretty sad - supposed to be a story about the collapse of Enron but honestly quite shallow. Trader talks about stealing a computer, taking pay checks he didn't earn, burning cds using stolen music and bragging about it - just generally shady things that make you imagine he's more upset he missed out on the scheme than he is mad the company ripped people off. This would be somewhat excusable if the book had anything of substance to offer. Don't worry - he admits in the book he only wrote it to ca Pretty sad - supposed to be a story about the collapse of Enron but honestly quite shallow. Trader talks about stealing a computer, taking pay checks he didn't earn, burning cds using stolen music and bragging about it - just generally shady things that make you imagine he's more upset he missed out on the scheme than he is mad the company ripped people off. This would be somewhat excusable if the book had anything of substance to offer. Don't worry - he admits in the book he only wrote it to cash in on the crisis so you can safely skip this one.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Mark Farley

    Fascinating insider's account, straight from the trading floor, of the collapse of one of the world's biggest companies. Brian Cruver meticulously details the final days and the unfolding soap opera in real time format that was Enron's 2001 mighty and cataclysmic unravelling. There is wheeling and dealing of epic Del Boy Trotter proportions, insider trading, backstabbing, incompetence and shady business practices galore. An in-depth look at the turn of the century world of finance and corporate Fascinating insider's account, straight from the trading floor, of the collapse of one of the world's biggest companies. Brian Cruver meticulously details the final days and the unfolding soap opera in real time format that was Enron's 2001 mighty and cataclysmic unravelling. There is wheeling and dealing of epic Del Boy Trotter proportions, insider trading, backstabbing, incompetence and shady business practices galore. An in-depth look at the turn of the century world of finance and corporate greed and laws surrounding the American stock market.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jake Sylvestre

    Very entertaining, but not very enlightening. Definitely doesn’t come close to smartest guys in the room or final accounting. I did learn a few interesting things about how mismanaged debtor in possession financing can hurt creditors when it fails to do basic things like stop paying employees when they’re laid off resulting in more costs than a normal severance. Mostly just anecdotes about culture on the trading floor

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

    The title of this book over promises somewhat. Cruver was hired by Enron less than a year before its collapse, at what one might qualify as an “entry level” position. What little discussion or analysis of greed he offers lies at an arm’s length, since most of the action happened before his employment, and at a higher pay grade. That said this was an entertaining read, a great, fly-on-the-wall look into the final months of Enron from the perspective of a hapless grunt.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Samuel Benson

    Cruver does a great job of drawing you into the insanity of Enron. He offers a new perspective that I had never fully considered: that of an innocent employee within Enron. You could really feel all of these events happening to him in the moment. I definitely recommend reading this if you want to learn more about the scandal.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Civitas Pacem

    Interesting but dated.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Peter Timson

    But we don't learn. Government response was to crack down on SME's... then WorldCom, not to mention the banking scandals, some years later. But we don't learn. Government response was to crack down on SME's... then WorldCom, not to mention the banking scandals, some years later.

  19. 4 out of 5

    James

    A disappointing book, the author only worked at Enron for a few months before it started to implode and had no contact with any of the executives or people in accounting. In the second half of the book he talks a lot about how he scammed Enron for a new computer, etc... He seems proud of the fact that he can be a crook just like the guys at the top. He spent a lot of time whining about not getting a fat severance package, he just doesn't get it. That package was designed for a few people when the A disappointing book, the author only worked at Enron for a few months before it started to implode and had no contact with any of the executives or people in accounting. In the second half of the book he talks a lot about how he scammed Enron for a new computer, etc... He seems proud of the fact that he can be a crook just like the guys at the top. He spent a lot of time whining about not getting a fat severance package, he just doesn't get it. That package was designed for a few people when the company had lots of money. After 10,000 people were laid off in a short period of time AND the company was in bankruptcy, that kind of generosity was simply not possible. In a strange way, the book could become a bit of a classic. The story of a bitter ex employee who can't move on in life, and forever feels his one chance at grabbing the gold ring was unfairly taken away from him. He must be an insecure person, when his psychiatrist mispronounces his name at each visit, he has a bitter reaction, but is unable to tell the man what the pronunciation is. 11 years later he probably still hasn't moved on. The book was published in 2002, so there's nothing about Lay's death, or a few others going to prison. You can get better info at wikipedia.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Natalya | natalyareads

    An in-depth and witty insider account of what occurred during the demise of Enron. What went on is absolutely shocking, but it was very interesting read about.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    An interesting insider account into the fall of Enron from a former employee. While it does provide insight into what occurred to many of the employees who were foot soldiers at Enron it doesn't satisfy the curiosity about what motivated managements decisions (besides Greed) and just how it occurred. An interesting insider account into the fall of Enron from a former employee. While it does provide insight into what occurred to many of the employees who were foot soldiers at Enron it doesn't satisfy the curiosity about what motivated managements decisions (besides Greed) and just how it occurred.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ashok

    Most things were known, no big surprises; but an insider account always has some extra twists to it. Unfortunately, it runs out of steam in the last chapters. Perhaps the subject has become old enough for me.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Very interesting! Reminds me of our current economic situation.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Graham

    Loved loved loved this book! Great perspective! So informative!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristal Cooper

    I enjoyed hearing the details of this sordid event in the history of American big business.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Themistocles

    One of the best Enron books. Read it multiple times by now...

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kamal Kannan

    Another fast read one and a roller coast experience

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    A detailed, funny, and insightful look ant life inside the crooked E.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Margaret

    Personal experience of the Enron crisis. Clear and engaging.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ninadiva

    Readable, but the author was a relatively new employee to the company and not that high up so his viewpoint is just inside the front door. Would suggest choosing another book with more detailed information from people in a better position to give it.

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