The Smartest Guys in the Room

The Smartest Guys in the Room

The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron

Written by:
Written by:

  • Ebook
  • ISBN 9780698158825
  • 480 Pages
  • Portfolio
  • Adult


There were dozens of books about Watergate, but only All the President’s Men gave readers the full story, with all the drama and nuance and exclusive reporting. And thirty years later, if you’re going to read only one book on Watergate, that’s still the one. Today, Enron is the biggest business story of our time, and Fortune senior writers Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind are the new Woodward and Bernstein.

Remarkably, it was just two years ago that Enron was thought to epitomize a great New Economy company, with its skyrocketing profits and share price. But that was before Fortune published an article by McLean that asked a seemingly innocent question: How exactly does Enron make money? From that point on, Enron’s house of cards began to crumble. Now, McLean and Elkind have investigated much deeper, to offer the definitive book about the Enron scandal and the fascinating people behind it.

Meticulously researched and character driven, Smartest Guys in the Room takes the reader deep into Enron’s past—and behind the closed doors of private meetings. Drawing on a wide range of unique sources, the book follows Enron’s rise from obscurity to the top of the business world to its disastrous demise. It reveals as never before major characters such as Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, and Andy Fastow, as well as lesser known players like Cliff Baxter and Rebecca Mark. Smartest Guys in the Room is a story of greed, arrogance, and deceit—a microcosm of all that is wrong with American business today. Above all, it’s a fascinating human drama that will prove to be the authoritative account of the Enron scandal.

The Smartest Guys in the Room

The Smartest Guys in the Room

Written by: Bethany McLean, Written by: Peter Elkind


“The best book about the Enron debacle to date.”
“The authors write with power and finesse. Their prose is effortless, like a sprinter floating down the track.”
—USA Today
“Well-reported and well-written.”
—Warren Buffett

Table of Contents

The Smartest Guys in the RoomAuthors’ Notes and Acknowledgments
Cast of Characters
Our Values

1. Lunch on a Silver Platter
2. Please Keep Making Us Millions
3. We Were the Apostles
4. The First Prima Donna
5. Guys with Spikes
6. The Empress of Energy
7. The 15 Percent Solution
8. A Recipe for Disaster
9. The Klieg-Light Syndrome
10. The Hotel Kenneth-Lay-a
11. Andy Fastow’s Secrets
12. The Big Enchilada
13. An Unnatural Act
14. The Beating Heart of Enron
15. Everybody Loves Enron
16. When Pigs Could Fly
17. Gaming California
18. Bandwidth Hog
19. Ask Why, Asshole
20. I Want to Resign
21. The $45 Million Question
22. We Have No Cash!

Epilogue: Isn’t Anybody Sorry?