â€śTheyâ€™re still trying to hide the weenie,â€ť thought Sherron Watkins as she read a newspaper clipping about Enron two weeks before Christmas, 2001. . . It quoted [CFO] Jeff McMahon addressing the companyâ€™s creditors and cautioning them against a rash judgment. â€śDonâ€™t assume that there is a smoking gun.â€ťSherron knew Enron well enough to know that the company was in extreme spin modeâ€¦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 â€śThe Worldâ€™s Leading Company,â€ť 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 companyâ€™s meteoric rise in the late 1990s. At the dawn of the new century, Ken Layâ€™s and Jeff Skilling's faces graced the covers of business magazines, and Enronâ€™s money oiled the political machinery behind George W. Bushâ€™s election campaign. But as Wall Street analysts sang Enronâ€™s praises, and its stock spiraled dizzyingly into the stratosphere, the companyâ€™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 Enronâ€™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 insiderâ€™s perspective are: CEO Ken Lay, Enronâ€™s â€śoutside face,â€ť who was more interested in playing diplomat and paving the road to a political career than in managing Enronâ€™s high-testosterone, anything-goes culture; Jeff Skilling, the mastermind behind Enronâ€™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 Enronâ€™s international division, who was Skillingâ€™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 Enronâ€™s deal-making, trader-oriented culture, Fastow transformed Enronâ€™s finance department into a â€śprofit center,â€ť creating a honeycomb of financial entities to bolster Enronâ€™s â€śprofits,â€ť while diverting tens of millions of dollars into his own pocketsAn unprecedented chronicle of Enronâ€™s shocking collapse, Power Failure should take its place alongside the classics of previous decades â€“ Barbarians at the Gate and Liarâ€™s Poker â€“ as one of the cautionary tales of our times.
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