Enron: The Rise and Fall

Enron: The Rise and Fall

Enron: The Rise and Fall

Enron: The Rise and Fall


'A solid, intelligent and fair account of the hubris that made Enron famous and important, then crazy and crooked.' -Martin Mayer, author of The Fed and The Bankers 'Loren Fox unravels one of the great downfalls in the history of corporate America and lays bare the toxic confluence of innovation, greed, and hubris.' -James S. Hirsch, author of Hurricane: The Miraculous Journey of Rubin Carter and Riot and Remembrance 'The tragic debacle of Enron is a defining event for today's generation of business professionals. Loren Fox synthesizes the complex details into a story that is lucid, engrossing, and fast-paced. Study this story as a mirror for our time.' -Robert F. Bruner, Distinguished Professor of Business Administration, Darden Graduate Business School, University of Virginia The word 'Enron' has officially entered the American vocabulary-not as the symbol of excellence and innovation that Chairman Kenneth Lay envisioned but as the corporate embodiment of greed, excess, and unprecedented fraud. Never in history has one company plummeted so quickly from the heights of power and glory to the depths of public humiliation, bankruptcy, and criminal investigation, dragging so many individuals and firms down with it. Simultaneously fascinating and frightening, Enron: The Rise and Fall provides today's most illuminating and entertaining book on what was right-and wrong-with late twentieth-century corporate America.


When Enron conducted a name-recognition survey in 1996, it found that ordinary people were guessing that “Enron” was a politician or a science-fiction weapon. It's now 2002, and “Enron” needs no introduction. Like Watergate, it has entered the collective vocabulary as a oneword symbol of an entire regime. Enron now represents greed and hubris, deceitful accounting and Wall Street favors, and, in short, everything that's wrong with corporate America.

As familiar as the word has become, the actual story of Enron's decline from business superstar to embarrassing bankruptcy is still not well understood. How did a $100 billion company collapse in a matter of weeks? What were the partnerships that shocked Wall Street and damaged some of its venerable reputations? Who were the people behind this complex enterprise? This book is one journalist's attempt to explain what happened from beginning to end.

Other accounts of the Enron scandal have concentrated on the company's decline, but the story really begins with the creation of the company in 1985. The fall of Enron would not be possible were it not for the preceding rise, and the company's missteps—both intentional and unintentional—were not possible had it not enjoyed successes early on. Those successes were what drew me to the story originally, and then my interest rose as this flourishing company began to encounter great difficulties. When I proposed a book about Enron in the fall of 2001, I knew it would make a fascinating topic. The drama then intensified at an amazing pace. In quick succession, Enron's weakened stock went into freefall, it struck a deal to be acquired, that deal then fell through, and Enron filed for bankruptcy. The story leapt from the business pages to the front pages, and then to everyday conversation.

My research uncovered details of the intense corporate culture and the recklessness with which the company pursued strategies. I found an organization that, in the spirit of the last decade, over-reached; Chairman Kenneth Lay, Jeffrey Skilling, and company believed they could transform a pipeline operator into a virtual corporation that traded a dizzying . . .

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