The Enron Book and Movie Reviews

BOOKS, Business Week 
By Wendy Zellner
An Insider´s Tale of Enron´s Toxic Culture

The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron
By Mimi Swartz with Sherron Watkins

Anyone who has been following the Enron story probably grasps the major elements behind the
energy trader´s spectacular collapse in 2001 -- the unbridled greed, the byzantine financial deals, and the toothless watchdogs at Arthur Andersen. The latest book on Enron’s fall, Power Failure: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron, doesn´t add much to the big picture. But with the help of former insider and Enron Corp. whistle-blower Sherron Watkins, author and Texas Monthly Executive Editor Mimi Swartz paints the most detailed portrait yet of the company´s ambitious executives and toxic culture.
Power Failure
The Inside Story of The Collapse of Enron
Written by Mimi Swartz and Sherron Watkins


“They’re still trying to hide the weenie,” thought Sherron Watkins as she read a newspaper clipping aboutEnron two weeks before Christmas, 2001. . . It quoted [CFO] Jeff McMahon addressing the company’s creditors and cautioning them against a rash judgment. “Don’t assume that there is a smoking gun.”
Sherron knew Enron well enough to know that the company was in extreme spin mode…

Power Failure is the electrifying behind-the-scenes story of the collapse of Enron, the high-flying gas and energy company touted as the poster child of the New Economy that, in its hubris, had aspired to be “The World’s Leading Company,” and had briefly been the seventh largest corporation in America.

Written by prizewinning journalist Mimi Swartz, and substantially based on the never-before-published revelations of former Enron vice-president Sherron Watkins, as well as hundreds of other interviews, Power Failure shows the human face beyond the greed, arrogance, and raw ambition that fueled the company’s meteoric rise in the late 1990s.


It's a few years old, but NOT out-dated.

October 19, 2008

By Darryl Asher (Montana)

Don't think that this story is "old" and without relevance. We are all still feeling the
effects today, and the same kinds of things are still happening. The makers of this film are fond of saying "it's not a movie about numbers, but about people," and that is true. It's a compelling story, well told, in an artistic fashion.

I've owned this DVD since it was first released and watched it well over a dozen times. I never tire of it, and the bonus features, such as the director's commentary, make it all the more interesting and informative.

Even if you are not particularly interested in business, politics, Enron, or stocks, you will enjoy this movie because it's interesting and well-made.


Chilling indictment of greed; especially relevant now.

February 11, 2009

By Alan A. Elsner, (Washington DC)  


Before the banking crisis and the housing bubble and toxic loans, there was the Enron crisis. This chilling documentary shows how greed, lying, ambition and corruption led a major corporation to fix its books so that a few people could become fabulously rich and how Wall Street analysts, major banks and America's oldest accountancy firm became enablers in the scheme.

Unfortunately, the movie also shows that we as a society learned nothing from the collapse of Enron. We sowed the wind and now we're reaping the whirlwind.

Shown mainly through interviews and video clips of Enron executives Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling when the company was the darling of Wall Street and could do no wrong, the movie plots the company's path to total failure. It invested in a gas plant in India and lost a billion dollars but never admitted it. It invested in video on demand and lost hundreds of millions more and lied about its failure. These losses were hidden through the creation by the CFO Andy Fastow of sham companies and Fastow himself skimmed $45 million off the top. Arthur Andersen, the accountancy firm, approved Fastow's illegal schemes and shredded one ton of documents to avoid being caught. Wall Street stock analysts recommended Enron quarter after quarter and major banks loaned more funds. Anyone who dared question the company's viability was fired.

We hear chilling recordings of Enron energy traders in California chuckling with glee as the company deliberately shuts down the power grid, causing misery to millions and probably death to not a few, so they can bid up the price of electricity.

Most scandalous, we meet some of the ordinary employees encouraged to invest all their retirement accounts in Enron stock. They lost everything while the top officers of the company cashed out. Enron was a systemic failure of our capitalist system and was a warning that was ignored.

  1. With director Alex Gibney at the Sundance Film Festival premier of his documentary film on Enron.

  2. Signing copies of Power Failure, The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron