Brian Cruver first entered the "Death Star," Enron's office complex, in March 2001.
He was twenty-nine years old, an eager MBA ready to cash in as a new hire with one of America's most highly valued companies.
But, from his first day - when his new boss warned him, "there was a mix-up in the hiring process," but that it was "no big deal...just think of it like you're adopted" - to his last, when he and his colleagues were given thirty minutes to leave the building, Cruver found himself enmeshed in a business cult that each day grew only more bizarre.
With dark humor and page-turning momentum, Cruver lays out firsthand: the giddy group-think nurtured by Enron's leadership, whose incessant cheerleading for the company's stock price rendered many Enronians unable to believe that they were routinely being spoon-fed lies; the "rank and yank" peer review process that fostered horse-trading among managers over which employees would be given poor evaluations; the traders who made dubious deals to ensure their own lucrative bonuses; and the sinister designs and funding of Enron's fraudulent off-the-books partnerships.
As Cruver probes the sleazy escapades that Enron executives milked for personal gain, he introduces us, up close and personal, to such storied figures as Ken Lay, Jeff Skilling, and Andy Fastow, along with other important Enron personalities like Rebecca Mark; Lou Pai; Thomas White, George W. Bush's Secretary of the Army; Joe Sutton; the "Mr. Blue", a disillusioned Enron executive; and Cruver's trading floor neighbor, a machine he christened "Sherman the Shredder" - who was always working overtime.
Cruver's day-by-day chronicle, which includes a running stock ticker to show the trajectory of Enron's collapse, is instantly reminiscent of such bestsellers as Liar's Poker and Barbarians at the Gate.
Told in a fresh, empathetic voice, Anatomy of Greed is brimming with grist for political pundits and comic relief for victims of corporate collateral damage. It is also the personal story of a young executive, a Houston native, whose dream job and dream company crashed around him in an avalanche of lies and greed.
From the wreckage, this newly hardened veteran of the corporate wars has written a cautionary tale that our leaders must heed - or imperil us all to future disasters.