Guide me to well written books about financial crimes
November 25, 2008 1:49 PM   Subscribe

I want to read more about financial crimes, real and fictitious. Any recommendations?

I just read Charlie Wilson's War, which talked about the different ways the CIA laundered money to get it to the mujahideen. I've also read a couple of books about BCCI.

I want to read more about financial crimes. Jewel heists, covert operations, etc. Anything where money is being concealed and funneled to clandestine sources qualifies.

I prefer non-fiction, but well written fiction would also be up my alley.

So I ask the Hive Mind: what should I read next?
posted by reenum to Law & Government (12 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Den of Thieves, James B. Stewart
Ghost Wars, Steve Coll
Anything by John Le Carre
posted by up in the old hotel at 2:07 PM on November 25, 2008

Perhaps not exactly what you're looking for, but try Smartest Guys In The Room. About the rise and fall of Enron. The film is okay too - in fact, it is required viewing at my company. I wont comment on the irony of that.
posted by elendil71 at 2:20 PM on November 25, 2008

Whether it would be considered well-written fiction is maybe up in the air, but Killing Floor by Lee Child is a thriller that happens to contain a lot of very interesting info about counterfeiting.
posted by triggerfinger at 2:28 PM on November 25, 2008

Great Experiment
posted by timsteil at 2:48 PM on November 25, 2008

Best answer: I read Final Accounting, which is an insider's account of the Arthur Anderson (Enron) scandal. It was actually very interesting.
posted by radioamy at 4:52 PM on November 25, 2008

I second the Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind

Fascinating, big beefy book. I read all 800 or so pages in a weekend. The documentary pales in comparison, in my humble opinion.
posted by vincele at 8:14 PM on November 25, 2008

Legacy of Ashes, makes Charlie Wilson's cash look like a rounding error.
Offshore, by William Brittain-Catlin.
Traders Guns and Money describes how derivatives are used to help defraud investors: concealing losses, moving liabilities off balance-sheet, etc. Many of these are permissible accounting manipulations, but still.
posted by Phred182 at 9:43 PM on November 25, 2008

Best answer: A few non-fiction books on the subject of accounting fraud:

Stolen Without a Gun: Confessions from Inside History's Biggest Accounting Fraud - the Collapse of MCI WorldCom by Walter Pavlo Jr. and Neil Weinberg. This one sounds closest to what you're looking for.

If you're also interested in the history of accounting as a profession, and its relation to financial crimes, check out Unaccountable: How the Accounting Profession Forfeited a Public Trust by Mike Brewster (a journalist).

And if you're geeky enough to take an interest in the technical side of how to uncover accounting fraud, try The Financial Numbers Game: Detecting Creative Accounting Practices by Charles W. Mulford and Eugene E. Comisky or Financial Shenanigans: How to Detect Accounting Gimmicks & Fraud in Financial Reports by Howard Schilit.

Happy reading!
posted by velvet winter at 11:00 PM on November 25, 2008

Best answer: There's also The Number by Alex Berenson - who was an investigative financial reporter for the New York Times. It's a pretty cool book - he goes through a whole bunch of scandals and talks about how and why they happened. Good read.
posted by jourman2 at 4:22 AM on November 26, 2008

I can't believe no one has mentioned Catch me if you can. (oh yeah it was also made into a movie).
posted by whatzit at 6:40 AM on November 26, 2008

I'll recommend another Enron book, "Conspiracy of Fools" and well as "The Informant" both by Kurt Eichenwald. The Informant tells the story of a price fixing conspiracy at Archer Daniels Midland. Quite good reading.
posted by kjars at 11:11 AM on November 26, 2008

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