Theyre still trying to hide the weenie, thought Sherron Watkins as she read a newspaper clipping about Enron two weeks before Christmas, 2001. . . It quoted [CFO] Jeff McMahon addressing the companys creditors and cautioning them against a rash judgment. Dont assume that there is a smoking gun.Sherron knew Enron well enough to know that the company was in extreme spin modePower 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 The Worlds Leading Company, 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 companys meteoric rise in the late 1990s. At the dawn of the new century, Ken Lays and Jeff Skilling's faces graced the covers of business magazines, and Enrons money oiled the political machinery behind George W. Bushs election campaign. But as Wall Street analysts sang Enrons praises, and its stock spiraled dizzyingly into the stratosphere, the companys 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 Enrons 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 insiders perspective are: CEO Ken Lay, Enrons outside face, who was more interested in playing diplomat and paving the road to a political career than in managing Enrons high-testosterone, anything-goes culture; Jeff Skilling, the mastermind behind Enrons mercenary trading culture, who transformed himself from a nerdy executive into the personification of millennial cool; Rebecca Mark, the savvy and seductive head of Enrons international division, who was Skillings 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 Enrons deal-making, trader-oriented culture, Fastow transformed Enrons finance department into a profit center, creating a honeycomb of financial entities to bolster Enrons profits, while diverting tens of millions of dollars into his own pocketsAn unprecedented chronicle of Enrons shocking collapse, Power Failure should take its place alongside the classics of previous decades Barbarians at the Gate and Liars Poker as one of the cautionary tales of our times.From the Hardcover edition.
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