Publication Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Goodreads Rating: 4/5 Stars
Who is Bernie Madoff, and how did he pull off the biggest Ponzi scheme in history?
This question has long fascinated people, about the New York financier who swindled his friends, relatives, and other investors out of $65 billion. And in The Wizard of Lies, Diana B. Henriques of The New York Times has written the definitive and bestselling account of the man and his scheme, drawing on unprecedented access and more than one hundred interviews, including Madoff’s first interviews for publication following his arrest. Henriques provides vivid details from the lawsuits and government investigations that explode the myths that have come to surround the story, and in a revised and expanded epilogue, she unravels the latest legal developments.
A true-life financial thriller—and now a major HBO film starring Robert De Niro and Michelle Pfeiffer—The Wizard of Lies contrasts Madoff’s remarkable rise on Wall Street with dramatic scenes from his accelerating slide toward self-destruction. It is also the most complete account of the heartbreaking personal disasters and landmark legal battles triggered by Madoff’s downfall—the suicides, business failures, fractured families, shuttered charities—and the clear lessons this timeless scandal offers to Washington, Wall Street, and Main Street.
This book is not for the faint in heart, or for those who want a quick, easy answer to, “What happened with Bernie Madoff?” It is not for one who has no knowledge of Wall Street activity or stock and bond trading. The degree of detail in the book is such that one has to be deeply interested in what Bernie Madoff did, and how he did it, and have at least some knowledge of Wall Street activities and terminology.
For those who do have the interest and the level of Wall Street sophistication needed to decipher the appropriate terminology, the book is an excellent encyclopedic account of the Madoff story. At times, about a third of the way in, the list of players and amounts of individual investments tend to get a little tedious. Do I really need THAT much detail? But in general, the author, Diana B. Henriques, did an extensive amount of research and presented it, generally, in a readable format.
The book reveals the gullibility of human beings, the desire, no, greed, of human beings to blind themselves to warning signs of danger, advanced by specialists in risk and investment understanding, in order to make financial gains that always meet or exceed industry averages, all without great risk. Or so it seems.
This gullibility lies not only with individual investors but with corporate banking and investment management that, under the guise of “due diligence,” may have performed diligence, but not due diligence, and hence, failed to uncover the scheme for decades.
The book further reveals the bungling and failure, for a myriad of reasons, of government regulations and regulators to sufficiently monitor and police Wall Street investment banking activities, at least in Madoff’s situation. This begs the question, “How many other scams were successfully pulled off because of government failure in this regard?” Scams that will never see the light of day.
This is not lightweight reading, but if you want a comprehensive account of this infamous person and his infamous scam, this is the book to read.
Or see the movie which comes out October 3rd which is tomorrow! whoot!