by Lynn Brewer with Matthew Scott Hansen
ISBN 1-58939-248-5 (softcover), 1-58939-247-7 (hardcover), 1-58939-249-3 (electronic). Library of Congress Control Number: 2002110977 Published 2002 by Virtualbookworm.com Publishing
House of Cards: confessions of an Enron executive
If "Enron" was a fictitious company, this book would be the perfect script for a Hollywood blockbuster like "Wallstreet" or even a television series like "Dallas." Instead, "Enron" was a real company, and this book is non-fiction. So why did the publishers HarperCollins, who had originally agreed a six-figure deal with the author, reject the final manuscript? Eventually she found Virtualbookworm to publish her book.
Why didn't anyone respond to Lynn Brewer when she contacted them about her story? This list is long, including Senator Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota and Serena Fong from Catherine Crier’s show on CourtTV. So Lynn had no choice but to write her book and publish it elsewhere.
You can read about her discovery of fraud, corruption, incompetence, scandalous behaviour, unethical practices at Enron, while she worked there as Lynn Morgan (her maiden name). She started as a (natural gas) contracts administrator, transferred to Rebecca Mark's water world Azurix, and then worked for Enron Broadband in her last position as Senior Competitive Intelligence Specialist in the Portland office.
The first chapter is her own revelations about her life story up to her move to Houston. At first, I wondered her motive for being so candid. Did she want sympathy? No, she wanted to show that she had nothing to hide.
Then you see why people loved and hated Enron at the same time. You either worked for Enron and got a great package (including stock options) and great career promises, or you didn't. Lured by the promise, she accepted a position there, only to find out that her mission was to sack two of the three people reporting to her.
The picture Brewer paints of Enron is political: back-stabbing, selfish, greedy, power-hungry individuals succumbing themselves readily to the seven cardinal sins. As the saying goes, "you either beat them or join them." Newcomers get golden-handcuffed by the stock options. Greed breeds greed.
If everybody else does it and gets away with it, could it be wrong? It becomes a question of economics vs ethics. How dare you question something that makes money for the company? Brewer soon learns that the company makes money by a) covering up the real truth with a web of complexity so great that no one bothers to unravel it, and even if it's unraveled, it's too difficult to understand it, b) getting the deal at whatever cost (because your bonus is booked to the deal being made), c) covering up for each other, and d) intimidating and being intimidated.
When the deregulation of the power industry was getting under way, I remember somebody saying,"The devil is in the details." To understand what happened at Enron, it's not enough to just follow the news. The devil is in the nitty gritty details of energy contracts, the conversations of Enron employees, and Brewer's fascinating, frank, if not shocking, account of her three years at Enron. She takes you inside the minds of the traders, the household names of Jeff Skilling, Rebecca Carter, and others, and into the culture of Enron.
8 November 2002 Friday
Le Bon Journal issue 9: Enron: the end of endless possibilities
Verdict: sizzling, sensational ! Take your time to digest it all.
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