I want to read tales of business fraud and failure
October 22, 2013 7:34 AM   Subscribe

I love to read books about real life business frauds and failures. For example, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room is a favorite as is The Informant. Fraud can be fun to read about, but it isn't necessary. Hubris and poor judgment can be enough if the story is told well. Can you recommend books I might enjoy?
posted by Area Man to Work & Money (17 answers total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
Ooh, one of my favorite types of books! I enjoyed "No One Would Listen" by Harry Markopolos (about Bernie Madoff), "The Big Short" by Michael Lewis (about the financial crisis), and "The Lost Bank" by Kirsten Grind (about the rise and fall of Washington Mutual).
posted by skycrashesdown at 7:38 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Arthur Anderson's fall in Final Accounting.
posted by xingcat at 7:40 AM on October 22, 2013

When Genius Failed and The Greatest Trade Ever are great reads that fit the bill.
posted by playertobenamedlater at 7:53 AM on October 22, 2013

Billionaire's Vinegar
posted by NickPeters at 7:54 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Drowning in Oil fits the bill. It's about how BP's hubris led to the Deepwater Horizon disaster.
posted by bassomatic at 7:58 AM on October 22, 2013

Boo Hoo: A Dot Com Story.
posted by misteraitch at 8:00 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Came in to say When Genius Failed and The Big Short but since they've been mentioned I'll just enthusiastically second them.
posted by escabeche at 8:05 AM on October 22, 2013

Dennis Levine: Inside Out.

Levine was convicted of insider trading in the 80s, and this is his confessional.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:34 AM on October 22, 2013

Michael Lewis's Liar's Poker, which is about his time at Salomon Brothers in the '80s. And everything else by Lewis (e.g., The Big Short that skycrashesdown recommends above)
posted by JackBurden at 8:38 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

Too Big To Fail.
posted by kiltedtaco at 8:48 AM on October 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

The Lost Bank: The Story of Washington Mutual - The Biggest Bank Failure In American History

(which I see was already suggested - seconding, then)
posted by Lucinda at 8:55 AM on October 22, 2013

You might find Rogue Trader a pretty entertaining account of how Barings was brought down, particularly if you're interested in the mechanics of it.
posted by doop at 9:18 AM on October 22, 2013

Thirding The Lost Bank. (I actually temped at one of the WaMu mortgage facilities in 2003-early 2004 so it was especially interesting to me.)
Another mortgage company gone wrong: The Foreclosure of America: The Inside Story of the Rise and Fall of Countrywide Home Loans, the Mortgage Crisis, and the Default of the American Dream by Adam Michaelson
There are a lot of really good books about Enron. Two from insiders I really liked:Power Failure: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron by Mimi Swartz and Sherron Watkins and Anatomy of Greed: The Unshredded Truth from an Enron Insider by Brian Cruver.
Another in the Books About Places I've Worked genre: The Deal From Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers (about Tribune Company)

Can you tell I like to read these kinds of books too? : )
posted by SisterHavana at 10:42 AM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm in the trades and have never owned a suit in my life. Bought this and gave it to a couple of the Suits I'd yap with at the water cooler (we got on pretty well given the class difference).

Neither have talked to me since.
posted by larry_darrell at 11:52 AM on October 22, 2013

I found Janet Malcolm's The Crime of Sheila McGough incredibly gripping. It is the story of a woman who went to law school relatively late in life, became a struggling solo practitioner in Virginia, and got drawn into a web of deceptions spun by a con artist who ran a scam in the classifieds of the Wall Street Journal. I can't recall what the outcome was for McGough but it was a really amazing tale of how she got in over her head in multiple ways.
posted by jayder at 2:29 PM on October 22, 2013

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