Monday, June 7, 2010

Week 19: The Madoff Chronicles by Brian Ross

Brian Ross is no John Grisham, especially when it comes to recounting true crime stories. That being said, the amount of work and research that Ross put into this book must have been daunting.

Picture this. Over thirty years, you've personally invested $250 million your inheritance with your friend Bernie, and you find out - poof! - it's gone. Oh, and those monthly statements you've been getting? They're lies - yup, all of them. And your pal Bernie? He doesn't know where it went.

Although I had heard about Madoff in the news, I knew very little about the extent of his criminal activity. I had heard about his celebrity victims, but never realized that some of his investors had been close personal friends. I also did not realize that many of his "clients" were other investment firms, who were investing money on behalf of their own clients. 

People say Madoff was a monster, or a liar, a crook, or a cheat. Throughout the book, an FBI profiler continuously refers to him as an "anti-social" personality. Even his lawyer (who might have dumped Madoff onto a public defender had he not been on retainer) said that Madoff was a severely flawed individual.

I personally think that Madoff was a type of overblown conman, someone so immersed in his own wrongdoing - juggling $64 billion - that he would never have stopped. He told a lie that got so big it took over his life, and ruined it.

If not for my insatiable curiosity about Madoff, I probably would not have picked this up. In my experience, I've found that I don't like books written by news correspondents. Especially those associated with giant news networks.

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