Cover image for Anatomy of greed : the unshredded truth from an Enron insider
Anatomy of greed : the unshredded truth from an Enron insider
Cruver, Brian.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Carroll & Graf, [2002]

Physical Description:
366 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates ; illustrations ; 24 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HD2796.E67 C78 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Brian Cruver was a firsthand witness to the disturbing, surreal, and hilarious moments of Enron's long dance with death. When he first entered Enron's office complex, "the Death Star," he was the epitome of the Enron employee: young, brash, sporting a shiny new MBA, and obscenely overpaid. From his first day, however, when he was told that some colleagues hadn't really wanted to see him hired, he found himself in the middle of a venal greed machine whose story unfolded with all the absurdity and frustration of a tale by Kafka crossed with Tulipomania and Liar's Poker. While Cruver's book examines the accounting tricks, the insider stock trades--and in a special section, how the grossly lucrative fraudulent partnerships were structured and funded--it also describes everyday life as an Enronian--cocky wheeling and dealing, the sex 'n keg party on the trade floor, casual conversations at the shredder, and the insidious group-think that made Enron employees unquestioningly accept propaganda spoon-fed them by Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and others, such as Tom White, then Vice-Chairman of Enron Energy Services, now Secretary of the Army under George W. Bush. Part of a team with rare "double" access to both external customers and internal systems, Cruver reveals the twisted reality behind the world's perception of Enron as one of the world's great corporations. Demonstrating a clear understanding of how business issues intertwines with human foibles, Cruver exposes Enron's flaws in an entertaining way all readers can understand. A portrait of the author as a young Enronian, Anatomy of Greed reveals the sting of reality, humility, and pain felt by a man whose idols turned out to be fools and scoundrels, and who learned that there is more to life than stock options. Soon to be a TV/film drama, this is a gonzo chronicle that goes behind the scenes to chart the decline and fall of the world's weirdest and richest business cult.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Cruver was hired as a senior manager at Enron in March 2001 to develop products and markets for bankruptcy risk management, a complex commodity concept that the company invented. During his tenure there, Enron stock plunged from $61 a share to mere pennies as the stock was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange. He got close enough to sources at the top to understand the complicated web of partnership arrangements that kept huge debts off the books while lining the pockets of top Enron executives. Cruver details how from his first days at Death Star (the unofficial nickname for the giant Enron complex), he witnessed a surreal corporate culture that hired and fired ruthlessly in search of the best and brightest, especially those who could keep their mouths shut about bad news. The company had evolved from a simple natural-gas provider to a complex entity that traded in abstract commodities while holding virtually no real assets. This house of cards eventually came tumbling down, beginning with the resignation of CEO Jeff Skilling and ending in bankruptcy, layoffs and the well-known public scandal that followed. Cruver succeeds in making sense of the whole mess while also generating sympathy for the hapless employees. --David Siegfried

Publisher's Weekly Review

Cruver's "unshredded truth" doesn't actually offer any substantial evidence into Enron's misdoings. Instead, he sets out to create the same sort of "life during wartime" account former Amazon employee Mike Daisey presented in 21 Dog Years but without the strong personality and storytelling capabilities that made Daisey more than just another grousing victim of the new economy hype. Cruver who started at Enron in March 2001 in the department whose focus was on "buying and selling credit risk as a commodity" and was laid off before the year was through doesn't have much to say about the company's final days: caught up in his own pride at having made the corporate big leagues, he ignores repeated warnings from an investor friend, updates his rsum while the shredders around him work overtime and collects several thousand dollars in free paychecks due to a clerical error. Because of his comparatively low-level status within the company and lack of real access to the company's inner workings, Cruver's awareness of Enron's financial problems was essentially limited to the same press releases and newspaper accounts the general public saw. The constant gossip among his colleagues rarely offers anything beyond speculation, as no one at Cruver's level had any clue what was really happening. (He does claim to have had one illuminating conversation with a pseudonymous executive, but even that encounter reveals little more than that Enron was willing to skimp on ethics in order to maximize profits, which is hardly news.) This quickie pseudo-expos has a few funny scenes, but nothing of any lasting value. Illus. (Sept.) Forecast: The book is the basis of a CBS-TV movie coming this fall, The Crooked E. That, along with a handful of prepub media mentions, an author tour and national advertising, might make it popular among Enron groupies. Readers seeking a substantial exploration of corporate responsibility won't find much here, though. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Having received his MBA degree in 1999, Cruver was hired by Enron in late March 2001 to be part of a bankruptcy-trading group. Through Cruver, we see how a typical Enron employee viewed the company's dramatic collapse. He talks about the initial concerns when CEO Jeff Skilling resigned, worries of layoffs as new falsifications of financial statements came to light, and the idle days of going to work after most operations had ceased. Although expressing resentment at the millions made by top executives, he writes with a wry sense of humor. He tells how, even after he was fired, Enron accidentally kept paying him for months. He also recounts that when he was first hired, some employees jokingly referred to Enron as the "Crooked E," supposedly because of its slanted-E logo. The book's title is deceptive in that the author was an insider only in the sense that he worked for Enron. Except for one unidentified source, most of the book's information about Enron's fraudulent accounting practices came from public sources. Still, because Cruver's fast-paced book puts a human face on the many employees hurt by the Enron and similar scandals, it is recommended for most business collections.-Lawrence R. Maxted, Gannon Univ. Lib., Erie, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.