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


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.

The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives

The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class SurvivesThe Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives by Lisa Servon
Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on January 10th 2017
Pages: 272
Format: hardback
Genres: Finance, Nonfiction
See it @ Goodreads


An urgent, absorbing exposé—why Americans are fleeing our broken banking system in growing numbers, and how alternatives are rushing in to do what banks once did
What do an undocumented immigrant in the South Bronx, a high‑net‑worth entrepreneur, and a twenty‑something graduate student have in common? All three are victims of our dysfunctional mainstream bank and credit system. Today nearly half of all Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, and income volatility has doubled over the past thirty years. Banks, with their high monthly fees and overdraft charges, are gouging their low- and middle-income customers, while serving only the wealthiest Americans.   Lisa Servon delivers a stunning indictment of America’s banks, together with eye-opening dispatches from inside a range of banking alternatives that have sprung up to fill the void. She works as a teller at RiteCheck, a check‑cashing business in the South Bronx, and as a payday lender in Oakland. She looks closely at the workings of a tanda, an informal lending club.  And she delivers fascinating, hopeful portraits of the entrepreneurs reacting to the unbanking of America by designing systems to creatively serve many of us.  Banks were once essential pillars of our lives; now we can no longer count on them to do right by us.
"Required reading for fans of muckraking authors like Barbara Ehrenreich, this fascinating look at the future of money management insists that the 'unbanked' are a sector deserving of respect and solid options."Publishers Weekly, starred review

My thoughts on this book

The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives was very interesting, I like many people look at check cashing and payday loan operations as near criminal. Lisa Servon, begs to differ, she takes us on a imitate look at how these companies function with the communities they serve. We have been led to believe that check cashing and payday loan stores are just a step above mob loan sharks. The author paints a totally different picture of how these operations function within their communities. As with any business there are bad actors but on the whole, these banking alternatives service a large group of people.

Servon in researching the writing this book actually worked for several of these companies, she was able to learn first hand how and why people use these entities. I can see that bank could be a hindrance to accessing your money, if you live paycheck to paycheck. Basically the author says the check cashing and payday loan companies really serve the emerging middle class better that banks as they are very straight forward in the fees they charge, they offer immediate access to one’s money, they will lend money that people may not otherwise have access too.

The book is a quick read, well worth the time.

About Lisa Servon

Lisa Servon is Professor of City Planning at the University of Pennsylvania and former dean at The New School. She is the author of Bridging the Digital Divide: Technology, Community, and Public Policy(Blackwell 2002), Bootstrap Capital: Microenterprises and the American Poor(Brookings 1999), Gender and Planning: A Reader (With Susan Fainstein, Rutgers University Press 2005), and Otra Vida es Posible: Practicas Economicas Alternativas Durante la Crisis (With Manuel Castells, Joana Conill, Amalia Cardenas and Sviatlana Hlebik. UOC Press 2012). She has contributed to the New Yorker, the Atlantic, and The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on PBS News Hour, Marketplace Money and Radio Times and her research is featured in the forthcoming documentary Spent: Looking for Change. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, two children, and a dog named Friday.