The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust Hardcover – Apr 6 2011
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"Riveting reading. . . . [Henriques] probably knows more than anyone outside the FBI and the Securities and Exchange Commission about the mechanics of the fraud. As a consequence, in The Wizard of Lies she is able to add significant detail to the story. . . . In the end the story holds us not because of the engrossing details of the scam, but because of the human dimension."--Liaquat Ahamed, The New York Times Book Review
"Henriques offers an impressive, meticulously reported postmortem not only of the Ponzi scheme but also of Madoff's entire career. . . . The Wizard of Lies is the definitive book on what Madoff did and how he did it."--Bloomberg Businessweek
"In The Wizard of Lies, Diana Henriques, who covered the Madoff scandal for the New York Times, offers a riveting history of Mr Madoff’s shady dealings and the shattering consequences of his theft. . . . She offers a raw and surprisingly moving portrait about the toll that Mr Madoff’s deceit took on his family."—The Economist
"Entertaining… Cogent and well researched, The Wizard of Lies is an engaging narrative… [The book] reveals many moments where Madoff might have been stopped. But his investors were too trusting or too greedy to ask the right questions and US regulators were too cowed and too disorganised."--Financial Times
About the Author
Diana B. Henriques is the author of The White Sharks of Wall Street and Fidelity’s World. She is a senior financial writer for The New York Times, having joined the Times staff in 1989. A Polk Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist, she has won several awards for her work on the Times’s coverage of the Madoff scandal and was part of the team recognized as a Pulitzer finalist for its coverage of the financial crisis of 2008. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
He swears to tell the truth, but reveals nothing." -- Proverbs 29:24 (NKJV)
Veteran financial journalist Diana Henriques does a masterful job of providing a play-by-play account of those involved in the Madoff mess. I found that most of my unanswered questions were well covered here . . . as much as can be the case when dealing with world-champion liars and thieves.
Those who trust in Wall Street will find much food for thought here. I was delighted when Ms. Henriques pointed out in the book that another Ponzi scheme is undoubtedly already out there, lulling the inattentive into a false sense of security while siphoning off their money. Unfortunately, one potential use of this book is to make a Ponzi scheme work better. I pray that no one will use it that way. But you never know.
Naturally, a lot of people have much to hide . . . and others want to avoid extreme embarrassment. So a lot of the details may never be known.
It added a lot to the story to learn about Madoff's life behind bars and how the asset recovery program has been conducted.
Ultimately, it's the horrible human cost of such a crime that makes it so terrible. When someone does this kind of crime, there will be a lot of blood on his or her hands.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Finally, what I found very interesting is how the author looks at what Madoff's crime--and how he fooled so many--can teach us about ourselves. This was something that made me reflect and think about the stories I tell myself. Highly recommended to those who are looking for a compelling, informative and thoughtful non-fiction book.
More than anything, the book illustrates how the Madoff phenomenon could never have gotten so big or lasted so long without the complicity of his major "clients." Particularly "feeder funds" such as Fairfield Greenwich and funds run by (or connected to) people such as J. Ezra Merkin and Sonja Kohn. While positioning themselves as hedge fund managers, these operators were nothing more than salespeople funneling money to Madoff. Madoff's genius was allowing them to generate phenomenal fees for themselves off the business they were doing with him, using their greed and ego to keep questions at a minimum. You really see how preposterous it is for these funds to claim they had no idea anything fishy was going on.
One of the most ironic takeaways for me was Madoff's role in bringing greater transparency to the market for OTC securities (through participation in the creation of NASDAQ) and his work in bringing down commission costs for retail investors through his initially controversial "pay for order flow" model. Yet at the same time he was sitting on his own dark secret.
Excellent and engaging. What kept it from being a five star book for me was how much is still left unknown -- when exactly did the scheme begin? How much did the feeder funds know? Maybe there will be a follow up book.
Henriques, a reporter for the NYT, not only knows how to research and digest a large amount of data, but also how to tell a story. "The Wizard of Lies" is not only "...the definitive book on what Madoff did and how he did it" (Business Week), it is a riveting tale of both Madoff and his victims. It reads like a work of imaginative fiction. Unfortunately, being true, it is a tragedy. It is one of the few books I've read recently that I couldn't put down, even though the sad ending is already known on the first page.
I think what I like most about this book is Diana's decency and sense of fair play. She refuses to engage in idle and destructive speculation regarding the supposed involvement and guilt of Mrs. Madoff or of the two sons (and others). So easy to do, so expected; what an understandable temptation to which to succumb. But Diana is made of sterner -- and better -- stuff. She reports and, to coin a phrase, we decide. Indeed, if anything, she's perhaps a bit too detached. No, I didn't want her to engage in calumny, however coy and oblique. But I had both hoped and expected that she would delve a bit deeper. Her reporting is outstanding, to be sure, but I'm no closer (anyway, not much closer) to understanding Bernie Madoff than I had been. Why did he do it? I'm not impressed by vague and cookie-cutter explanations, such as "He was greedy." Who isn't who doesn't have "Saint" in front of his name? No, what I'm interested in, specifically and exactly, is...why? And I still don't have an answer to the question that's fascinated me from the beginning: Why didn't he run? If it had been me, I would have pulled a Lord Lucan in two shakes of a lamb's tail.
Any other problems? Not really. There's an occasional editing glitch. For example, Diana explains the concept of front-running more than once. And where are the photos? Wasn't it Anita Bryant who astutely observed that a day without orange juice is like a day without sunshine? Well, a nonfiction book without pictures is, well, like a day without, you know, sunshine. Or something.
Still, I heartily recommend "The Wizard of Lies", which is terrific. By the way, try to find a copy of Diana's "The White Sharks of Wall Street". It's a riveting study of Leopold Silberstein and the other original corporate raiders.
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