Archives for December 2017

The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust

The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of TrustThe Wizard of Lies by Diana B. Henriques
Published by Times Books on April 26, 2011
Pages: 448
Format: hardback
Genres: Finance, Nonfiction
See it @ Goodreads
four-stars


Synopsis


The inside story of Bernie Madoff and his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, with surprising and shocking new details from Madoff himself.

Who is Bernie Madoff, and how did he pull off the biggest Ponzi scheme in history?

These questions have fascinated people ever since the news broke about the respected New York financier who swindled his friends, relatives, and other investors out of $65 billion through a fraud that lasted for decades. Many have speculated about what might have happened or what must have happened, but no reporter has been able to get the full story -- until now.

In The Wizard of Lies, Diana B. Henriques of The New York Times -- who has led the paper’s coverage of the Madoff scandal since the day the story broke -- has written the definitive book on the man and his scheme, drawing on unprecedented access and more than one hundred interviews with people at all levels and on all sides of the crime, including Madoff’s first interviews for publication since his arrest. Henriques also provides vivid details from the various lawsuits, government investigations, and court filings that will explode the myths that have come to surround the story.

A true-life financial thriller, The Wizard of Lies contrasts Madoff's remarkable rise on Wall Street, where he became one of the country’s most trusted and respected traders, 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.

My thoughts on this book

I am continually baffled by people whom seem to have no conscience. I am bothered by my own digressions to the point of losing sleep. How is it that people can delude themselves to think that what they are doing or what they did is not a problem. How the human mind works is just amazing. Bernie Madoff for over thirty years ran a multi-billion dollar Ponzi scheme. He fooled thousands of people and a large part of the financial sector with his scheme.

Henriques details how Madoff had a shadow business running on another floor of his company, where he faked everything from stock trades to account statements. She further details how she feels that some of Madoff’s wealthier clients may have understood what Madoff was involved in and withdrawn money because they knew they could. How Madoff was able to fool the SEC several times, mostly because I think they really didn’t want to believe that this could happen. The book deals with the efforts made to recover some of the funds that investors lost. Overall, it is an interesting read.

The author also refers to Harry Markopolos No One Would Listen who spent 10 years trying to get the SEC to really investigate Madoff. I would suggest reading this book also, Markopolos is at times a little over the top but he was spot-on when it comes to Madoff.

No Place to Hide

No Place to HideNo Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State by Glenn Greenwald
Published by Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt (NY) on May 13th 2014
Pages: 260
Format: hardback
Genres: National Security, Nonfiction, Politics & Social Sciences
See it @ Goodreads
four-stars


Synopsis


No Place to Hide is a groundbreaking look at the NSA surveillance scandal, from the reporter who broke the story

Investigative reporter for The Guardian and bestselling author Glenn Greenwald, provides an in-depth look into the NSA scandal that has triggered a national debate over national security and information privacy. With further revelations from documents entrusted to Glenn Greenwald by Edward Snowden himself, this book explores the extraordinary cooperation between private industry and the NSA, and the far-reaching consequences of the government’s surveillance program, both domestically and abroad.

My thoughts on this book

I was interested in how one person could possibly steal digital information from our government. I never really found out by reading this book. I did find out that the government has the ability to know a lot about us and our personal lives. I also decided that you would have to live totally off the grid to have any real privacy, which I don’t think is even possible to do any longer.

What interest me now is if we have such capabilities to spy on people then, we should know exactly what was happening with Trump et al. Early on in the Trump investigation wasn’t there talk of surveillance of foreign diplomats and didn’t the Obama Administration ask the courts to release information as to whom that foreign diplomat was speaking to? Did Trump collude with the Russians, I personally don’t believe he has the depth or knowledge to successfully do that.

While Greenwald makes Edward Snowden out to be the hero of the 20th century, he (Greenwald) takes to task the The Washington Post and The New York Times for going to the government for input before publishing stories about their suspicious activities implying that we never get the truth because the media and government collude to lessen the impact of these stories. Greenwald can, in my mind’s eye, be a bit self-righteous at times, but mostly he is spot on.

I wanted to read No Place to Hide prior to reading How America Lost Its Secrets by Edward Jay Epstein, whom has a totally different take on Edward Snowden and the theft of documents from the NSA apparatus.

About Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald is the author of several bestsellers, including How Would a Patriot Act? and With Liberty and Justice for Some. Acclaimed as one of the 25 most influential political commentators by The Atlantic, one of America’s top 10 opinion writers by Newsweek, and one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers for 2013 by Foreign Policy, Greenwald is a former constitutional law and civil rights litigator. He was a columnist for The Guardian until October 2013 and is now a founding editor of a new media outlet, The Intercept.. He is a frequent guest on CNN, MSNBC, and various other television and radio outlets. He has won numerous awards for his NSA reporting, including the 2013 Polk Award for national security reporting, the top 2013 investigative journalism award from the Online News Association, the Esso Award for Excellence in Reporting (the Brazilian equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize), and the 2013 Pioneer Award from Electronic Frontier Foundation. He also received the first annual I. F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism in 2009 and a 2010 Online Journalism Award for his investigative work on the arrest and detention of Chelsea Manning. In 2013, Greenwald led the Guardian reporting that was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for public service.