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1. Conspiracy of Fools : A True Story
$16.47 list($24.95)
2. Under and Alone : The True Story
$16.50 $10.00 list($25.00)
3. Dangerous Doses : How Counterfeiters
$10.50 $8.42 list($14.00)
4. Bringing Down the House: The Inside
$8.96 $5.50 list($11.95)
5. Lucky : A Memoir
$16.29 $14.68 list($23.95)
6. Ballad of the Whiskey Robber:
$70.00 $29.88
7. Inside Terrorism
$81.95 $42.00
8. Organized Crime
$31.49 $22.00 list($49.99)
9. Incident Response and Computer
$15.60 $10.99 list($26.00)
10. Green River, Running Red: The
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11. The Informant: A True Story
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12. A Wayward Angel : The Full-Story
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13. Ponzi's Scheme : The True Story
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$18.45 $17.56 list($27.95)
15. Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story
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16. Laci : Inside the Laci Peterson
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17. Legends of Winter Hill : Cops,
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18. Under the Banner of Heaven : A
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19. Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the
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20. Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary

1. Conspiracy of Fools : A True Story
by Kurt Eichenwald
list price: $26.00
our price: $17.16
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767911784
Catlog: Book (2005-03-14)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 142
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Download Description

In 2000, when The Informant was published, few would’ve imagined that a story about price fixing at Archer Daniels Midland could be as un–put–downable as the best crime fiction. Yet critics—and consumers—agreed: The New York Times reporter Kurt Eichenwald had taken the stuff of dry business reporting and turned it into an unparalleled page–turner. With Conspiracy of Fools, Eichenwald has done it again.

Say the name “Enron” and most people believe they’ve heard all about the story that imperiled a presidency, destroyed a marketplace, and changed Washington and Wall Street forever. But in the hands of Kurt Eichenwald, the players we think we know and the business practices we think have been exposed are transformed into entirely new—and entirely gripping—material. The cast includes but is not limited to George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Paul O’Neill, Harvey Pitt, Colin Powell, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Alan Greenspan, Ken Lay, Andy Fastow, Jeff Skilling, Bill Clinton, Rupert Murdoch, and Michael Eisner. Providing a you–are–there glimpse behind closed doors in the executive suites of the Enron Corporation, the Texas governor’s mansion, the Justice Department, and even the Oval Office, Conspiracy of Fools is an all–true financial and political thriller of cinematic proportions.

... Read more

Reviews (53)

2-0 out of 5 stars strange brew
This is the book counterpart of a video reconstruction.As best I can tell from the extensive endnotes, the author did a phenomenal research job, and then (from my point of view) turned his work into fiction.Instead of presenting us with the facts (fascinating in themselves) the author presents everything "through the eyes" of the participants, pretenting to be in their thoughts, and using quotation marks with the abandon of a novelist.We all know that this is just plain made up, but by using this form of presentation, the author blurs the distinction between fact and fiction.He DOESN'T know what these people were thinking, and making it up implies that he does; requiring me to search the footnotes at the end of each sentence -- what is true and what is made up? For example, on the first page we follow Ken Lay's thoughts as he is driven to work -- the footnote shows us the source for what kind of car it was -- but of course no reference for Lay's thoughts (and even if Lay had said what he was thinking, we have know knowledge that he told the truth).Accordingly, although the book is entertaining, I demote it to a "2" for horrendously bad journalistic practice.

4-0 out of 5 stars The End of an Empire
I'm certain that all of us like to read a good book. One filled with intrigue, deceit, back-stabbing, illegal acts, social issues, fear, egos, greed, scandals,etc.

All the ingredients of an interesting novel. Only it's not. It is the true story ofENRON's humble pipeline beginnings to its bankruptcy and the saga of a hidden but eventually disclosed paper trail.

The book---"Conspiracy of Fools" by Kurt Eichenwald.

Notwithstanding the complicated financial transactions involved, it is written in a fast moving manner by a winning New York Times writer

5-0 out of 5 stars If you get one book this summer, this is it!
Everyone knows the Enron scandal.The directors of the corporation have been depicted as nothing less than caricatures of corporate greed and the company itself a cliche of managers run amok.

This book ends all that.It brings dimension and personality to everyone involved and does justice to the events that transpire in a very evenhanded way.The "fly on the wall" narrative and the incredulous attitude of the author constantly ask the question we all wanted to ask right from the start: "What were they thinking?"Even moreso, a corollary becomes "Why did everyone else just let it happen?"Hard to believe, but the problems of Enron could have been predicted back in the early 90s.

This is a top-notch book and worth every penny.Its not particularly difficult to comprehend (the dialogue and complex schemes are broken down for laymen to understand), and believe it or not, its a quick read. Once it absorbs you, you just won't put it down.

4-0 out of 5 stars Reads like a thriller
I read this book in three days.I have a two year old to chase around, so that tells you just how much time I devoted to finishing it.COF reads like a thriller.I kept waiting for the bad guys to get caught and became more and more incredulous that it took so long.

COF does an excellent job of showing what a dangerous combination greed, hubris and ignorance is and how prevelant it is in corporate America.Throw in a dash of politics and you have a national scandal.

Eichenwald does a good job of showing us all the nuances of what happened at the executive level of Enron, but I was disapointed that we never got to see any of it from the perspective of the thousands of employees that woke up one morning without jobs or retirement funds.We also never see the impact of Enron's fall on the varous companies and local governments that invested so heavily in them.

My last "complaint" is a silly one.There were no pictures of the principals featured in the book, which is pretty standard for non-fiction stories.I wanted to know what Lay, Skilling and the rest looked like so I could put faces with names.

Overall, well worth the read if you want some suspense and/or an insight into just what went wrong at Enron.

5-0 out of 5 stars The BEST book I have read in years
I never thought I would like to read an Enron book, but my father really pushed this on me. I LOVED it. This is the best book I have read in years, certainly since A Civil Action. It is thrilling, unbelievable, captivating. I am up late writing this because the book kept me up until 3 and now I am having trouble not thinking about it. Unlike other books of this type, the research is incredible. Anyone who reads it has to thumb through the footnotes, and see all of the documents and other information that Eichenwald pulled together. A fabulous reporter and a spectacular writer all add up to a great book. ... Read more

2. Under and Alone : The True Story of the Undercover Agent Who Infiltrated America's Most ViolentOutlaw Motorcycle Gang
list price: $24.95
our price: $16.47
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Asin: 1400060842
Catlog: Book (2005-04-05)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 194333
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3. Dangerous Doses : How Counterfeiters Are Contaminating America's Drug Supply
by Katherine Eban
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0151010501
Catlog: Book (2005-05-09)
Publisher: Harcourt
Sales Rank: 2743
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

In the tradition of the great investigative classics, Dangerous Doses exposes the dark side of America's pharmaceutical trade. Stolen, compromised, and counterfeit medicine increasingly makes its way into a poorly regulated distribution system-where it may reach unsuspecting patients who stake their lives on its effectiveness.

Katherine Eban's hard-hitting exploration of America's secret ring of drug counterfeiters takes us to Florida, where tireless investigators follow the trail of medicine stolen in a seemingly minor break-in as it funnels into a sprawling national network of drug polluters. Their pursuit stretches from a strip joint in South Miami to the halls of Congress as they battle entrenched political interests and uncover an increasing threat to America's health.

With the conscience of a crusading reporter, Eban has crafted a riveting narrative that shows how, when we most need protection, we may be most at risk.

... Read more

Reviews (5)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Summer Reading
This book is astounding.Told as a thriller, it shows why, unbelievably, your pharmacist cannot tell you where your prescription drugs have come from - they have no idea.

One of many great reviews out there - this one in by Katharine Mieszkowski:
"They call themselves the Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and they hold meetings at Hooters. Their uniforms consist of black polo shirts emblazoned with a pack of horses flanking the Grim Reaper, who's wielding a scythe. One Horseman's name is Venema, which rhymes with "enema." But he prefers his code name: Ice Station Zebra. These dubious characters are the good guys in "Dangerous Doses: How Counterfeiters Are Contaminating America's Drug Supply," by Katherine Eban, an expose that wades into more rank Florida unseemliness than a Carl Hiaasen novel, and easily boasts three times the number of sleazebag villains...
Eban mostly lets this stranger-than-fiction cast of characters tell the story, which makes it engaging, even though it's essentially about government failure. The real cause of the corruption of the drug supply isn't the money to be made. It's a weak regulatory system, which doesn't require complete proof ofthe route a drug takes from its manufacturer to the pharmacist. That opens the door for all kinds of shenanigans among the colorful, corrupt middlemen. The drug industry lobbyists say it would be unduly expensive to keep such records, and that they aren't necessary, even as Operation Stone Cold uncovers more and more stolen, fake and mishandled medicine. And the government continues to buy that argument, even after no lesser force than Gov. Jeb Bush convenes a grand jury to look into the matter. (What it turns up is horrifying to all involved.) ..."

5-0 out of 5 stars An amazing read
This is a book about an terribly important story--how our most expensive and important medicines are being counterfeited and debased and then sold by good pharmacies to unsuspecting citizens. But it is also a wonderfully exciting read, the kind of narrative nonfiction that doesn't come along very often. The author tells of a rag-tag group of investigators who have personality to spare, and an amazing young DA who decided to go after the counterfeiters in southern Florida. It's an exciting chase story, with lots of personality and humor.
Even though the theme is scary, the story is riveting.

5-0 out of 5 stars An eye-opening expose of the underbelly of pharmaceuticals
Americans need to know that every time we enter the drug store, the current system of regulation allows for the possibility that the drugs we are purchasing are counterfeit or adulterated.Stored in individuals' laundry rooms, strip clubs and even trunks, the drugs that reach the public are not safe under the current system of regulation.Katherine Eban has written a riveting account of how greedy individuals have preyed upon the weakest of the weak who depend on these life-saving drugs for their very survival.Well-researched and thorough, this book provides a startling account of how greed can kill.

5-0 out of 5 stars Shocking and heartbreaking
This is a shocking, heartbreaking account of how one of our 'sacred cows'- the prescription drug industry- is really a corrupt breeding ground for low-end criminals and petty corruption.But at its core, and what makes the book such a great read, are the human stories- the stories of the victimized, and the stories of the five investogators who fight at all costs to expose what is happening.Well researched and highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking, accurate, important medical journalism
This book recounts in exacting detail the adulteration of the critical drugs needed by cancer and other critically ill patients, the result of a investigation by a group of dedicated Florida policemen and the author.This fact-driven, exhaustively researched, and beautifully written account is a compelling read, and one which (as an academic physician and cancer specialist) I found impeccable.It is an essential book for anyone for whom the integrity of our medications are important--which is everyone in this country. ... Read more

4. Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions
by Ben Mezrich
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743249992
Catlog: Book (2003-09-09)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 174
Average Customer Review: 4.15 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

#1 National Bestseller!
The amazing inside story about a gambling ring of M.I.T. students who beat the system in Vegas -- and lived to tell how.

Robin Hood meets the Rat Pack when the best and the brightest of M.I.T.'s math students and engineers take up blackjack under the guidance of an eccentric mastermind.Their small blackjack club develops from an experiment in counting cards on M.I.T.'s campus into a ring of card savants with a system for playing large and winning big.In less than two years they take some of the world's most sophisticated casinos for more than three million dollars.But their success also brings with it the formidable ire of casino owners and launches them into the seedy underworld of corporate Vegas with its private investigators and other violent heavies.

Filled with tense action, high stakes, and incredibly close calls, Bringing Down the House is a nail-biting read that chronicles a real-life Ocean's Eleven.It's one story that Vegas does not want you to read. ... Read more

Reviews (226)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beating the odds and living a constant adrenaline high!
This is a fast and explosive read. It's a true story that's so high-powered that the tension never ceases and I was thrust into a roller coaster ride that kept my eyes glued to the pages.

The story is told through the eyes of the author, who met one of the students at a party and was so intrigued by his outrageous tale that he was compelled to put it into a book. This is a story of a group of math whizzes, most of Asian descent, who used the art of card counting, worked as teams, and legally won as much as 4 million dollars during the few years they spent their weekends in the Vegas casinos, living the high life.

They strapped thousands of dollars to their bodies with Velcro to get the cash onto planes, used false names, and were always on the lookout for Las Vegas personnel who would sometimes personally escort them out of the casinos. They also learned about the seediness of the gambling world, greed, the way the Vegas corporations work. Of course they all went through changes. And eventually, it had to come to an end. Some of it is kind of scary too. But mostly, it's about beating the odds and living with a constant adrenaline high.

Well, reading this book is an adrenaline high of it's own. It put me right into the action and kept me there for the whole 257 pages. I loved it. And highly recommend it.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you've ever played blackjack, this is a must read!
This is a truly amazing story of six MIT students who beat Vegas at its own game.

As anybody who has ever been to Vegas knows, the ONLY game in Vegas where the player has a slight advantage (using minor card counting techniques) over the house is blackjack. The MIT students in this book took it a few steps further to increase their advantage even more. The research, practice, and other methods they used are quite remarkable. It certainly helped that they were all mathematical whizzes.

This book is a lot more than just blackjack, though. It gives an inside glimpse into the life of a high roller (AKA whale in gambling jargon) and even has some suspense and intrigue.

This is an absolute must read for anybody who has ever gambled in their life, especially if you've ever played a hand of blackjack. The book is a very fast read and you will find yourself turning the pages very quickly as you are enveloped in a fantasy world that only a handful of people ever get to realize.


5-0 out of 5 stars Easy to Read
This is a fun and interesting book. Nothing too heavy. Just a light, easy to read book - which is sometimes the very best thing. In the same easy to read level of entertainment as "Moneyball" (Michael Lewis), "Stranger Than Fiction" (Chuck Palahniuk), or "My Fractured Life" (Rikki Lee Travolta).

5-0 out of 5 stars CAN'T WAIT TO SEE THE MOVIE!
Ben Mezrich knows how to tell a story. He takes us along with Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT) Black Jack team on casino assaults from Las Vegas to the Bahamas. We experience the life of high stakes gamblers... the fabulous hotel complementary rooms and the casinos' violent response to big talented winners. He briefly discusses the theory of card counting among team players early on, but saves the details for the last chapter. Ben also admits that the casinos have adapted by implementing continuous card shuffling machines. As a computer programmer with designs on lotteries, I felt a connection to fellow Boston area college students with a plan and the determination to follow through. I hope they make a movie out of this.

4-0 out of 5 stars decently fun....
If you like gambling, like myself, I think this book is worthwhile. It's not exactly a dissertation on winning at blackjack by any means, or a how-to book on winning lots of cash in gambling. It's pretty much a tale of a team of card-counters that hit up Vegas for millions. Whether it's true or not, I'm not sure. But it is a fun read. The story is interesting, and keeps you captivated enough so you won't put it down. But a light pleasure read. The main negative I have with this book is that it really isn't that well-written. While it is an easy read, the author shifts in and out of 1st and 3rd person narrative a lot, not only chapter by chapter, but also within pages. Not that it makes it confusing, but after awhile it becomes annoying. But all in all I thought the book was fun to read. So I'd give it 3 and a half stars, rounded up to 4. ... Read more

5. Lucky : A Memoir
by Alice Sebold
list price: $11.95
our price: $8.96
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316096199
Catlog: Book (2002-09)
Publisher: Back Bay Books
Sales Rank: 1926
Average Customer Review: 4.49 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Enormously visceral, emotionally gripping, and imbued with the belief that justice is possible even after the most horrific of crimes, Alice Sebold's compelling memoir of her rape at the age of eighteen is a story that takes hold of you and won't let go.

Sebold fulfills a promise that she made to herself in the very tunnel where she was raped: someday she would write a book about her experience. With Lucky she delivers on that promise with mordant wit and an eye for life's absurdities, as she describes what she was like both as a young girl before the rape and how that rape changed but did not sink the woman she later became.

It is Alice's indomitable spirit that we come to know in these pages. The same young woman who sets her sights on becoming an Ethel Merman-style diva one day (despite her braces, bad complexion, and extra weight) encounters what is still thought of today as the crime from which no woman can ever really recover. In an account that is at once heartrending and hilarious, we see Alice's spirit prevail as she struggles to have a normal college experience in the aftermath of this harrowing, life-changing event.

No less gripping is the almost unbelievable role that coincidence plays in the unfolding of Sebold's narrative. Her case, placed in the inactive file, is miraculously opened again six months later when she sees her rapist on the street. This begins the long road to what dominates these pages: the struggle for triumph and understanding -- in the courtroom and outside in the world.

Lucky is, quite simply, a real-life thriller. In its literary style and narrative tension we never lose sight of why this life story is worth reading. At the end we are left standing in the wake of devastating violence, and, like the writer, we have come to know what it means to survive. ... Read more

Reviews (154)

5-0 out of 5 stars A TRIUMPH OVER TRAGEDY
Like her wonderful novel The Lovely Bones - which I've also reviewed and which you must read - Lucky is a harrowing, heart-wrenching book about the worst possible thing that can happen to a woman. Alice Sebold tells the raw story of her rape ordeal and her subsequent struggle for recovery with an honesty and warmth which is compelling. Lucky reads almost like a novel itself at times, with gripping moments of suspense, particularly during the court trial scenes.
Alice Sebold was the innocent victim of an unforgivable crime - but she doesn't ask for our sympathy or pity in these beautifully written pages. She earns our respect and admiration for the courageous way she tells how the traumatic events changed and shaped her life; how the naive college student would eventually become a hardened, determined aggressor herself in her brave fight for justice against her attacker. Sadly, this natural reaction to her personal violation came with a price - destructive behavioural damage that brought a later downward spiral into drugs. What the author didn't know at the time is that she was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder; an anxiety syndrome that emerges following a psychologically distressing traumatic event such as rape, which she battles to overcome.
Can someone really, truly, get over something so savage and brutal as rape is the numbing thought you're left with long after you put the book aside? The past can never be forgotten, but Alice Sebold has managed to crawl from the wreckage and move on with her life to a happier future that has brought her international fame and acclaim. That says something about the human spirit - and everything about this remarkable woman.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Story of Survival - Incredible.
In this thought-provoking, chilling memoir, Alice Sebold recounts the events of her rape and the aftermath of that tragedy. While strong enough to go through with the trial and conviction of her attacker, Sebold's emotional state was deeply affected for many years after. Her memoir follows the events that occurred after her rape and the things she attempted in order to escape her pain.

Sebold captures this period in her life with great intensity and literary skill. Not only does the reader become informed of the actual events of the rape and the events following it, but we get a look into Sebold's home life and her personality before the night that would change everything.

This story isn't just about a college girl's rape and her survival story. It's a story about her life: her family, her friends, her childhood. Sebold explains how when she was younger all she wanted was to be hugged by her parents, but she would settle for something as simple as a touch because she was offered nothing more (and sometimes not even that luxury). It's about growing up in a dysfunctional family and getting through it. It's about surviving not only bad experiences in life, but surviving and coping with continuing bad situations.

A great read - highly recommended to anyone.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!
A must read for clinical psychologists and students interested in the sexual abuse topic.

3-0 out of 5 stars Yet again I'm left disappointed ...
I was a bit underwhelmed with 'The Lovely Bones' - started out great, lost me entirely by the end - but I expected great things of 'Lucky'. Yet again it starts out well, the opening chapter is horrifying, moving and completely unputdownable - but as we move away from the actual rape and its immediate aftermath all Alice Sebold's faults as a writer surface again. She seems unable to select material which will be of interest to the reader and fills pages and pages with irrelevant detail of her family life and unnecessary background detail. The book comes alive again when she spots her rapist in the street but in between I found myself losing interest. We all know the argument about real-life not being as tidy as fiction - but in this case it WAS tidy - the rapist was identified by Alice, caught and punished (a much more satisfactory ending than that of 'The Lovely Bones', ironically). I wish the book had been more scrupulously edited to focus on the essential elements of her story rather than filled up with padding. I felt cheated at the end of the book - at the beginning I felt that I would be with Alice throughout her every step of her journey to find justice and recover from the trauma she suffered but somehow this connection was lost and by the middle of the book I had no idea what she - or indeed anyone else involved was thinking or feeling. What a shame as this could have been a truly great book and an inspiration to rape survivors everywhere ...

5-0 out of 5 stars A real tale, full of sound and fury
This book is so many things, but the one that comes first to mind is "brave." For Seabold to have written this is amazing--the courage it must have taken. But that aside, it is well-written. I read "Lovely Bones" first, and then this one. While the premise of "Lovely" was great, I found "Lucky" to be a better book. Don't get me wrong, I like both of them, but "Lucky" was by far the more "real" tale. Try them both and then decide for yourself.

Also recommended: McCrae's Bark of the Dogwood, A Boy Called It ... Read more

6. Ballad of the Whiskey Robber: A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelt Smuggling, Moonlighting Detectives, and Broken Hearts
by Julian Rubinstein
list price: $23.95
our price: $16.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316071676
Catlog: Book (2004-09)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 1220
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Book Description

Elmore Leonard meets Franz Kafka in the wild, improbably true story of the legendary outlaw of Budapest.

Attila Ambrus was a gentleman thief, a sort of Cary Grant--if only Grant came from Transylvania, was a terrible professional hockey goalkeeper, and preferred women in leopard-skin hot pants. During the 1990s, while playing for the biggest hockey team in Budapest, Ambrus took up bank robbery to make ends meet. Arrayed against him was perhaps the most incompetent team of crime investigators the Eastern Bloc had ever seen: a robbery chief who had learned how to be a detective by watching dubbed Columbo episodes; a forensics man who wore top hat and tails on the job; and a driver so inept he was known only by a Hungarian word that translates to Mound of Ass-Head.

BALLAD OF THE WHISKEY ROBBER is the completely bizarre and hysterical story of the crime spree that made a nobody into a somebody, and told a forlorn nation that sometimes the brightest stars come from the blackest holes. Like The Professor and the Madman and The Orchid Thief, Julian Rubinstein's bizarre crime story is so odd and so wicked that it is completely irresistible. ... Read more

7. Inside Terrorism
by Bruce Hoffman
list price: $70.00
our price: $70.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0231114680
Catlog: Book (1998-04-15)
Publisher: Columbia University Press
Sales Rank: 321086
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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The word "terrorism" first became popular during the French Revolution, when the régime de la terreur was initially viewed as a positive political system that used fear to remind citizens of the necessity of virtue. The use of violence to "educate" people about ideological issues has continued, but it has taken on decidedly negative connotations--and has become predominantly, though not exclusively, a tactic deployed by those who do not have the powers of state at their disposal.

Bruce Hoffman, the director of the Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence, has written a clear summary of some of the major historical trends in international terrorism. He makes careful distinctions between the motivations that drive political (or ethno-nationalist) terrorism and religious terrorism, and he also shows why the rise of religious terrorism, coupled with the increased availability of weapons of mass destruction, may foretell an era of even greater violence. In the past, Hoffman argues, the main goal of the terrorist was not to kill, but to attract media attention to his cause in the hope of initiating reform. "For the religious terrorist," however, "violence is first and foremost a sacramental act or divine duty executed in direct response to some theological demand or imperative ... religious terrorists see themselves not as components of a system worth preserving but as 'outsiders,' seeking fundamental changes in the existing order." Hoffman does not "choose sides" in this framework, pointing to the bombings of the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City and to the sarin nerve gas attacks in Tokyo in order to demonstrate that fundamentalists of any religious denomination are capable of extreme acts of terrorism. ... Read more

Reviews (10)

5-0 out of 5 stars A highly relevant work on an extremely important topic
Dr. Bruce Hoffman, long regarded as an authority on terrorism, adds great insight through his book Inside Terrorism.Continuing on the good work done on the subject by Paul Wikinson and others at the leading terrorism institution- University of St. Andrews, Scotland- Hoffman illustrates for the reader the key components of terrorism and goes on to tackle very important and complex aspects of the subject.

This book is certainly a MUST READ for any serious study of terrorism.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great introduction to terrorism studies
A definite must-read for beginners.Hoffman discusses everything from "what is terrorism" to various major terorrist groups.The book progresses logically and reads well.It's broken up into subchapters and offers extensive endnotes for further reading, should you so choose.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent one volume introduction to the subject
Bruce Hoffman, long one of RAND's key terrorism-wallahs and an affiliate of St Andrews University has written an excellent book on a controversial topic.

There was a fair amount of literature on terrorism prior to September 11th and, my, but there's even more now. A lot of it was a load of old rubbish prior to September 11th and even more of it is now. Hoffman's book is a work of substance which in itself puts it ahead of much of the pack.

"Inside Terrorism" covers a variety of areas. It opens with a discussion about the lengthy (and continuing) debate that surrounds the issue of defining terrorism - an issue which has stumped everyone from academics to the UN. What and who exactly IS a terrorist? Hoffman doesn't provide a clear cut, definitive answer but he does provide clear coverage of what is framing the argument, along with some of the possible answers which are being put forward. Whether you consider this level of debate to be self-indulgent and ivory tower or not (as I increasingly do, interesting thought it is) it is important to know that the debate does exist and what it's all about as it goes to the heart of some real-life anti-terrorism policy making, especially with regard to multilateral attempts to curb terror groups.

Hoffman moves on to cover Post-colonial ethnic or nationalist terror groups, international terrorism, Religion and terrorism, Terrorism, Media and public opinion, Terrorist methods and mindsets and the potential future of terrorism. All in all, it adds up to a fairly comprehensive introduction to the subject. Some of Hoffman's conclusions aren't to everybody's tastes, but terrorism is an inherently controversial and hotly debated issue, it's the nature of the beast.

Overall, this is an excellent overview and introduction to the subject of terrorism. Certainly better than the recent work of Walter Laqueur. The newcomer to the subject would also be well advised to check out Christopher Harmon's "Terrorism Today" as well, along with Paul Wilkinson's "Terrorism and Democracy". Ken Booth's "Worlds in Collision" is an excellent collection of essays by various authors that is ideal for somebody with an interest in the post-September 11th world.

Hoffman's writing style is not immediately engaging (I found the book far more digestible on a second reading), but this is still an excellent work for the beginner. In a field that is both crowded and shallow, Hoffman has produced a book of genuine substance and for that he deserves credit.

4-0 out of 5 stars If only it wasn't so redundant
Not having any bakcground in the history of terrorism, I found this book extremely informative. I learned a great deal about the development/evolution and history of modern-day terrorism,. Furthermore, I found the discussion of the various types of terrorism to be especially useful. However, the book seemed very redudant to me. I recommend this to whoever is looking for a brief overview of how terrorism has changed since its beginnings.

5-0 out of 5 stars Invaluable Perspectives Within an Historical Context
For the general reader, Hoffman provides probably the best introduction to terrorism from an historical perspective.It is instructive to view the tragic events of September 11th from that perspective. Terrorists' motives as well as their strategic objectives and tactical means have differed (sometimes significantly) over the centuries. Hoffman does a brilliant job of reviewing and explaining a wide variety of separate acts of terrorism. All terrorists (religious or secular) are extremists. Frankly, I continue to have problems with the term "fundamentalists" because so many historical figures now revered acted upon the most fundamental of principles for which they were prepared to die...and many did. Like heroism, terrorism is in the eye of the beholder. Case in point: those involved with the Resistance in occupied France during World War Two. To his credit, Hoffman presents the material with great precision but without bias. It remains for each reader to formulate value judgments. Especially now, this is a "must read" for those of us who struggle to understand events on a recent Tuesday. ... Read more

8. Organized Crime
by Howard Abadinsky
list price: $81.95
our price: $81.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0534551580
Catlog: Book (2002-07-24)
Publisher: Wadsworth Publishing
Sales Rank: 479357
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Abadinsky provides a detailed analysis of the origins, history, theoretical explanations, and structure of organized crime, including drug trafficking, gambling, and loan sharking. The author also explains the methods employed by law enforcement agencies to combat organized crime, and the policy decisions reached by various investigating committees and commissions, including the President's Commission on Organized Crime.This text is known for presenting a comprehensive history of the subject and for being written in an engaging, "storytelling" style. In addition to presenting information on traditional organized crime groups in the United States, particularly New York and Chicago, Abadinsky covers organized crime groups on the international stage, including Chinese, Columbian, Italian, Jamaican, Japanese, Mexican, Nigerian, Russian, as well as outlaw motorcycle clubs with chapters throughout the world. ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent text for Criminal Justice majors
I am a college professor who just finished teaching ORGANIZED CRIME to twenty college juniors and seniors. I selected Abadinsky's book as the text because it is carefully and thoughtfully "choreographed." The information provided flows in a sensible and clearly written design. Some texts appear to be designed for Rhodes Scholars and are virtually impossible to read. This is not the case with this great book! I recommend it to teachers and those who have in interest in this fascinating subject.

5-0 out of 5 stars Organized Crime's concept, empircial evidence and current LE
If you (the reader, the researcher) is interested in Organized Crime, I strongly recommend this book (Howard Abadinsky's Organized Crime, 6th Ed.) This book is the only detailed book I have come across in studying Organized Crime. I am currently a criminal justice graduate student attending the University of Central Florida. RSB

5-0 out of 5 stars A classic work by a leading expert in the field
In this revised edition of the classic text on organized crime Abadinsky provides a comprehensive overview of organized crime groups, traditions, operations and the impact on American society. ... Read more

9. Incident Response and Computer Forensics, Second Edition
by Chris Prosise, Kevin Mandia, Matt Pepe
list price: $49.99
our price: $31.49
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 007222696X
Catlog: Book (2003-07-17)
Publisher: McGraw-Hill Osborne Media
Sales Rank: 19128
Average Customer Review: 4.64 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Written by FBI insiders, this updated best-seller offers a look at the legal, procedural, and technical steps of incident response and computer forensics. Including new chapters on forensic analysis and remediation, and real-world case studies, this revealing book shows how to counteract and conquer today’s hack attacks. ... Read more

Reviews (25)

5-0 out of 5 stars The best computer forensics book just got better
First, full disclosure: the publisher sent me a free review copy, I used to work for Mandia and now work with Prosise and Pepe, and I contributed material incorporated into chapters 8 and 14. I still think "Incident Response and Computer Forensics, 2nd Edition" (IRCF2E) is the best forensics book on the market. Notice I said "forensics." It's significant that the first edition's title was "Incident Response: Investigating Computer Crime." While IRCF2E contains plenty of IR material, I sense a shift away from computer security and towards the legal world in this second edition.

Readers of the first edition will want to know what's new. While reading IRCF2E I thumbed through the first edition and make some notes. The following chapters appear mostly or totally new: 1 (Real-World Incidents), 3 (Preparing for Incident Response), 4 (After Detection of an Incident), 9 (Evidence Handling), 10 (Computer System Storage Fundamentals), 11 (Data Analysis Techniques), 17 (Writing Computer Forensics Reports). Some chapters contain rewrites or new material: 2 (Intro to the IR Process), 5 (Live Data Collection from Windows), 6 (Live Data Collection from UNIX), 7 (Forensic Duplication), 8 (Collecting Network-based Evidence), and 14 (Analyzing Network Traffic). The remainder received minor rewrites. Some chapters from the first edition on IIS and application forensics were integrated elsewhere.

The most informative sections for me, as a reader of both editions, appear in chapters 7, 10, and 17. Chapter 7 lays down the law on differences between a "forensic duplication," a "qualified forensic duplication," and a "mirror image." Expert witnesses can turn to IRCF2E as a standard when testifying, thanks to this chapter's clarity and citations of "Daubert" and "Kumho." Chapter 10 nicely explains file systems and storage layers. Chapter 17 gives desperately needed guidance on writing forensics reports -- the part of an engagement the client really wants.

I found a few errata items, such as p. 61's reference to the PPA; it should be "Privacy Protection Act." On pp. 97-98, all of the "ps" tools should list the Sysinternals home page, not Foundstone. Despite my contribution of material to the network-oriented chapters of IRCF2E, don't believe that I advocate using laptops for monitoring duties (p. 179). Laptops and especially their NIC drivers are not built for packet capture in high speed environments.

IRCF2E is one of the few books in print where the word "forensics" deserves to be on the cover. Many prominent "forensics" titles deliver nothing useful to practitioners. As was the case with the first edition, investigators can use IRCF2E in operational environments to do real work. This book lays much of the groundwork for doing cases. Watch for "Real Digital Forensics" to be published next year, which walks readers through case-based evidence to teach how to collect, interpret, and analyze host- and network-based evidence.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extremely valuable for infosec and law enforcement
This is my First Edition review, Second is coming soon.

Unlike other incident response books, this one has all the technical details. Having just the book and equipment authors recommend, one will be able to start doing
computer forensics after two hours of reading. The focus is on technology and the process of response and forensics.

The authors also cover preparing for incident response in great detail: from measures such as secure and auditable host configuration, system logging, network access
control up to acquiring the forensics workstation and assembling the tools.

The response procedures cover general techniques for any computer incident and then go into platform-specific details. The useful distinction between the first response
and investigation is outlined: the reader will know what to do when confronted with a freshly hacked box and will also learn how to approach a hard disk extracted from a
dishonest employee workstation.

Advanced network monitoring section is simply brilliant: catching the bad guys using SYN-less TCP communication or ICMP tunneling certainly presents a fun challenge for
"cybercops". Application specific tips will be useful for many, as well. Nowadays, everybody knows that Word document identifies the creator, but did you know that MAC
address of the hardware is actually recorded and can be extracted by the forensics expert.

While definitely not giving legal advice, authors also go though many of the cybercrime regulations and relevant laws. For example, did you know that if your system
administrator monitors the firewall logs to see LAN traffic is it fine, while if law enforcement agent does the same with no court order - it is illegal. On the other had, if the
admin does it in violation of company policy - it is illegal as well. Also enlightening are evidence collection and preservation methods. To navigate the maze of what is
allowed and what is not - read the book.

The book, as authors suggest, is useful not only for security professionals, but for law enforcement as well. That is supported by lots of background information such as TCP
header formats and general knowledge of filesystems.

4-0 out of 5 stars Excellent basic reference
I read the book in about three days and found it to be a good primer for one leaning towards computer forensics. While some of the technology and tools described in the book will undoubtedly change within the next few months, a lot of the basic principles will remain pertinent for a long time to come. I heartily recommend this book for anyone with more than just a casual interest in Computer Security.

5-0 out of 5 stars The Very Best Computer Forensics Primer Out There (1/04)
As an attorney and a formally-trained computer forensics examiner and instructor who has been tilling the fields of digital evidence for some time, I'm always on the prowl for the next great computer forensics tool or text that's going to help me find the next smoking gun...or at least be confident I haven't overlooked it. I've built a substantial library of books and articles on computer forensics, some very good and some a complete waste of money. But, this book is the best of the best.

From its step-by-step detail of the forensic process to its copious and helpful illustrations and screen shots to its unvarnished discussion of the tools in the marketplace, the second edition of Incident Response and Computer Forensics is, for my money, the most valuable resource any computer forensic examiner could have on their shelf. Many of the techniques and shortcuts detailed are "trade secrets" in that I've never seen them described in print. Unlike other forensic guides that assume the reader owns a costly forensic software suite, this book fairly splits its emphasis between Linux tools, shareware and the best software packages. That means the reader can begin the learning process at once, without investing anything more than their time and interest.

Another strength is that the book neither presupposes a too-high level of knowledge or experience nor dumbs down its content such that an expert wouldn't derive any value. There's something here for everyone who cares about computer forensics, from the neophyte to the grizzled veteran. When I paid $50.00 for this tome at a big box bookstore, I worried I was paying too much. Now, I'd think it cheap at twice the price.

As another reviewer pointed out, it doesn't devote a chapter to the law, but that is not to say that legal considerations are ignored. To the contrary, I think the authors do an excellent job of giving a useful "heads-up" where needed and not moving out of their depth.

I don't know these guys, but I'd sure like to shake their hands for a job well done! Thanks.

Craig Ball is an attorney and certified computer forensic examiner based in Montgomery, Texas, who teaches and consults with attorneys and the courts on matters of computer forensics and electronic discovery.

2-0 out of 5 stars mediocre
The book gives a decent overview on the field, but lacks technical accuracy. The authors fumble on technical details. For example, the authors botched the explanation of what happens when a unix file is deleted by claiming that all files with a link count of zero will be deleted. They also make the claim that only the SCSI interface will accommodate the multiple simultaneous communication that RAID requires - when really IDE will do this as well given proper firmware. Another gross oversight was the exclusion of reverse engineering in their investigation of rogue files chapter.

When emailing the authors about this, all three ignored the email. I do not recommend supporting authors that ignore their readers. ... Read more

10. Green River, Running Red: The Real Story of the Green River Killer--America's Deadliest Serial Murderer
by Ann Rule
list price: $26.00
our price: $15.60
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0743238516
Catlog: Book (2004-10)
Publisher: Free Press
Sales Rank: 494
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Veteran crime writer Ann Rule is uniquely qualified to chronicle the grisly career of Gary Ridgeway, the man convicted of being the "Green River Killer," the most prolific serial killer in American history. Not only is she one of the more successful true-crime authors, but for nearly 20 years, Rule was exceptionally close to the case, reporting on it for a Seattle newspaper, preparing a long-delayed book on the subject, and living within a few blocks of the strip of highway where most of Ridgeway's victims were abducted. In Green River, Running Red, Rule lends unique humanity to the string of murders that haunted the Seattle area throughout the '80s and '90s by exploring the lives of the dozens of young women who fell into prostitution and were ultimately murdered. Similarly, she catalogues Ridgeway's troubled and bizarre life in such a way that the reader becomes uncomfortably familiar with Ridgeway, although it's never truly clear what drove him to commit such heinous crimes. Along the way, she traces the decades-long struggle of the law enforcement officials assigned to the case as they tracked down countless leads, questioned innumerable suspects, and explored multiple theories that came up empty before finally cracking the case through a series of technological advancements and a little luck. But the most disturbing aspect of the Green River killings (named for where the first victims were found) is how they occurred in relatively plain sight, with Ridgeway, seemingly living an unremarkable life, dwelling and working within a few miles of where his lengthy killing spree took place and evading capture for years. Rule skillfully weaves herself into her account, relating the psychic and cultural impact of the case as it evolved, but she never takes the spotlight off Ridgeway, his eventual captors, and the women who died at his hands.--John Moe ... Read more

11. The Informant: A True Story
by Kurt Eichenwald
list price: $16.95
our price: $11.53
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0767903277
Catlog: Book (2001-07-03)
Publisher: Broadway
Sales Rank: 23596
Average Customer Review: 4.66 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

From an award-winning New York Times investigative reporter comes an outrageous story of greed, corruption, and conspiracy—which left the FBI and Justice Department counting on the cooperation of one man . . .

It was one of the FBI's biggest secrets: a senior executive with America's most politically powerful corporation, Archer Daniels Midland, had become a confidential government witness, secretly recording a vast criminal conspiracy spanning five continents. Mark Whitacre, the promising golden boy of ADM, had put his career and family at risk to wear a wire and deceive his friends and colleagues. Using Whitacre and a small team of agents to tap into the secrets at ADM, the FBI discovered the company's scheme to steal millions of dollars from its own customers.

But as the FBI and federal prosecutors closed in on ADM, using stakeouts, wiretaps, and secret recordings of illegal meetings around the world, they suddenly found that everything was not all that it appeared. At the same time Whitacre was cooperating with the Feds while playing the role of loyal company man, he had his own
agenda he kept hidden from everyone around him—his wife, his lawyer, even the FBI agents who had come to trust him with the case they had put their careers on the line for. Whitacre became sucked into his own world of James Bond antics, imperiling the criminal case and creating a web of deceit that left the FBI and prosecutors uncertain where the lies stopped and the truth began.

In this gripping account unfolds one of the most captivating and bizarre tales in the history of the FBI and corporate America. Meticulously researched and richly told by New York Times senior writer Kurt Eichenwald, The Informant re-creates the drama of the story, beginning with the secret recordings, stakeouts, and interviews with suspects and witnesses to the power struggles within ADM and its board—including the high-profile chairman Dwayne Andreas, F. Ross Johnson, and Brian Mulroney—to the big-gun Washington lawyers hired by ADM and on up through the ranks of the Justice Department to FBI Director Louis Freeh and Attorney General Janet Reno.

A page-turning real-life thriller that features deadpan FBI agents, crooked executives, idealistic lawyers, and shady witnesses with an addiction to intrigue, The Informant tells an important and compelling story of power and betrayal in America
... Read more

Reviews (61)

5-0 out of 5 stars The Firm Meets Civil Action
Jonathan Harr, who wrote A Civil Action, wrote of this book, "I guarantee it'll keep you reading late into the night." Well, he was right. I stayed up several nights to finish this - dead tired but too engrossed to put it down.

If you like the complexity of a corporate legal case (a la A Civil Action), and you also enjoy the thrill of criminal plot twists and illegal scheming (a la The Firm), you, too, will be up late. Almost immediately such a reader will reach the can't-put-it-down stage.

Added to the fun of the read is the odd awareness that this is real - these are real people involved in real corporate crimes and real political influence. The treatment of law enforcement, the corporate principals, the lawyers, and the secondary players, was refreshingly objective. One never gets the sense that Eichenwald has some skewed perspective (this is in contrast to A Civil Action, where the author had developed the story while tagging along with the plaintiffs' attorneys).

This book involves key players at every level of the FBI - including Louis Freeh, and the Justice Department, and A.D.M., without the pain of unneeded blather; all are part of the game, and it's worth getting to know them.

The only awkward moment comes very late in the book, when the author actually becomes involved a bit in the story. But the convention may have been unavoidable given the circumstances, so it is only a bit of a bump. Arguably, some of the details may have been left out. But in defense of the author - this is not some fiction piece where every detail is forced to fit perfectly to some final climax. The detail is worth it here, and does not detract from the story in the least.

Oftern critics insist that this or that book is a "page-turner." Well, for me, this time the tag really fits. This is also the stuff of a fine movie, which surely will follow.

5-0 out of 5 stars Is Truth Stranger Than Fiction?
On the rare occasions when the banal details of corporate crime are uncovered, developed and prosecuted, the inside story is sometimes difficult to believe. Even more often, these stories, particularly those involving complex financial chicanery, fail to survive the conversion to film or print.

An obvious exception is "The Informant," Kurt Eichenwald's extraordinary new book about the Archer Daniels Midland Company price-fixing scandal in the mid-1990s. Mr. Eichenwald, an award-winning journalist at The New York Times, has balanced a cast of a nearly unimaginable characters with meticulous reporting and sourcing built on endless of hours of government tapes, documentary evidence and interviews.

Mr. Eichenwald's masterfully constructed narrative describes how ADM, the self-styled "Supermarket to the World," conspired with international competitors to corner food additive markets. The book focuses on Mark Whitacre, the wildly contradictory former ADM executive whose secret cooperation with the FBI apparently was intended to hide his own crimes. As Mr. Eichenwald writes, the book is about the "malleable nature of the truth," and how nothing in the ADM case was necessarily what it appeared to be. Along the way, the story is told in a way that "lend[s] temporary credence to the many lies told in this investigation," according to Mr. Eichenwald. In the end, the book accomplishes what few of its kind have: it has woven an otherwise tedious collection of technical and legal details and deceptions into one of the best tales of corporate crime in the past 20 years.

As the federal government found in its development of the ADM case, it's difficult to humanize corporate schemes, whether in civil or criminal litigation, or in the news or entertainment media. Mr. Eichenwald not only overcomes this obstacle, he has succeeded in producing a book that reads like a thriller. At one point in the book, in fact, a few of the characters even question whether Mr. Whitacre is acting out scenes from a John Grisham best-seller, "The Firm." Mr. Eichenwald also is fortunate to inherit an amazing cast of characters that includes not only Mr. Whitacre, the Andreas family, and high-level law enforcement agencies but also ADM's political network -- which at various times has included Ronald Reagan, Mikhail Gorbachev, Bob Dole, Dan Quayle, former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney, and powerful Washington and New York law firms, among others.

My admiration of the author emanates in part from his reporting of the Prudential-Bache financial scandal in the early 1990s, both in The New York Times and in his book "Serpent on the Rock." As a part of the legal team that successfully represented 5,800 victimized investors in civil litigation against Pru-Bache, I believe Mr. Eichenwald was unequalled among journalists in his command of that subject matter. Even then, where "Serpent on the Rock" succeeded nicely in chronicling the Pru-Bache scandal, "The Informant" excels.

I believe that this book puts Mr. Eichenwald into the elite company of Jonathan Harr ("A Civil Action"), James B. Stewart ("Den of Thieves" and "Blind Eye"), Ken Auletta ("Greed and Glory on Wall Street"), and Bryan Burrough and John Helyar ("Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco").

5-0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story, brilliantly written
Were this a review of a novel, I would criticize it for an overcomplicated, convoluted and essentially unbelievable plot. But it is a true story, one that will rivet your attention and leave your head spinning.

The basic story, that the large agri-business Archer Daniels Midland - ADM - was caught in an international price-fixing scam for food additives would merit coverage in Business Week but little else. The key to the story is the informant himself, Mark Whitacre, the President of one of ADM's largest and most successful divisions. Manipulative, deceitful, delusional, sociopathic ... these are accurate but inadequate descriptions of the man who sucked ADM, the FBI and the DOJ into a five-year whirlwind, played out on the headlines of every newspaper in the country; he will suck you in, too.

Who hasn't wondered what kind of knucklehead responds to those crazy scam letters and emails from Nigeria? Actually, so many Americans with access to large amounts of cash responded in the 1980s and 1990s that the FBI had to set up a special liaison office in Lagos to deal with them. Meet Mark Whitacre: brilliant biochemist, builder and President of a hugely successful division of a multi-national corporation; and hopelessly entangled by his crazy belief that he could hit the jackpot by aiding corrupt Nigerian officials. And more, much, much more.

The story will sweep you along, from one unbelievable plot twist to another, not reaching a crescendo until the very end. Great fun. But also a great testament to the American justice system. Battered on all sides by the media and politicians and wealthy corporate defendants and with an utterly unreliable witness, the FBI and the DOJ persevere and see their case through to what seems like a very satisfactory conclusion, all the compromises and plea bargains notwithstanding.

Eichenwald deserves great credit: not only for his real-time coverage of the story in the New York Times and the writing of this brilliant book, but also for the fact that he nearly simultaneously was covering the astonishing demise of Bache Halsey Stuart Shields in the Serpent On The Rock, another amazingly readable true story of human frailty.

5-0 out of 5 stars Truth is Stranger than Fiction
Corporate espionage, money laundering, greed, and one of the most bizarre whistle-blowing cases the FBI had ever seen. So is the twisted tale told in Kurt Eichenwald's The Informant. And most bizarre of all, its all true. Eichenwald, a senior writer for the New York Times, recalls the events that occurred during the 1990's at the Archer Daniels Midland Company when one of its own executives, Mark Whitacre, became a mole for the FBI. According to Whitacre, the company was working with international competitors to fix prices globally on their products, specifically lysine, a feed additive.

Archer Daniels Midland is a Fortune 500 company located in Decatur, Illinois, and was at the time led by its chairman and chief executive officer, Dwayne Andreas, a politically connected millionaire. ADM is one of the world's largest grain producers, boasting that it is the "Supermarket to the World." Among other things, the company supplies many food manufacturers around the world with food additives such as citric acid, lysine, and corn syrup. To maintain large profit margins, however, the company had acquired many corrupt and illegal practices, all to be dissolved by Mark Whitacre.

Whitacre began his career at ADM at a relatively young age. With a doctorate in biochemistry, he was the president of the bioproducts division at ADM. Whitacre began his work with the FBI in 1992 when ADM began investigating corporate espionage by a competitor. It was believed that a major Japanese competitor, Ajinomoto, had planted a virus in one of ADM's lysine plants. The virus was believed to be the cause of abnormally low production levels. It was further suspected that the competitor had an employee working undercover at ADM to sabotage the plant. Once the investigation began, however, Whitacre became nervous that he would look suspicious because he spent so much time communicating with the foreign competitors on other matters, including illegal price fixing. He was scared that he would be fingered as a suspect. Because of this fear, and others to be disclosed later, Whitacre broke down and told the FBI of the illegal deals going on at the company. The FBI was curious from the beginning however as to why such a highly paid executive would be willing to cooperate with the FBI to bring down such a major conspiracy. However, they were thrilled and anxious to begin work with Whitacre; it was rare to have such a prominent member of a company working as an informant to the FBI. Whitacre agreed to work with the FBI so long as he was granted immunity. The FBI in turn agreed, so long as Whitacre agreed to be honest and disclose any and all wrong doing that he was aware of at ADM and cooperate with the FBI to document the crimes. It seemed like a relatively simple plan, but nothing in this case would ever be simple...

5-0 out of 5 stars Dynamite true story of corporate crimes
This is a non-stop action-packed book about nefarious corporate crimes at ADM, an enormous food products company based in Decatur, Illinois.

This book follows the amazing (and at many times unbelievable, but true) twists and turns of events in the years following an initial FBI investigation into suspected corporate espionage at ADM. The investigation quickly led to price fixing and anti-trust issues based on information supplied by "informant" Mark Whitacre. And it moves from there into other corporate crimes, driven by greed.

At first the story seems to be about a simple investigation into price fixing by ADM and many of its international "competitors" (even though the company viewed its customers as the true enemy). The book is written as the events turned out for the FBI, so even though the reader is presented with Whitacre being a strange man, the reader is led to believe that it is because he is stressed about being an informant, worried about being caught by ADM and threatened (as he saw in many fictional movies and books). But it turns into much more and all is not as it seems.

Parts of this book deal with complex financial and corporate issues, but Eichenwald deals with them in a way that is easy to understand.

The book is an incredibly easy read and even though the length can look danuting, I found myself flying through the book and always wanting to see what happens next. So in a sense it is an amazing page turner, just as much as any best selling thrilling novel.

I highly recommend this and be warned that this will make you skeptical of corporate greed and misdeeds and you'll know that many corporate exces were all criminals long before the downfall of Enron. ... Read more

12. A Wayward Angel : The Full-Story of the Hell's Angels by the Former Vice-President of the Oakland Chapter
by George Wethern, Vincent Colnett
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1592283853
Catlog: Book (2004-08-01)
Publisher: The Lyons Press
Sales Rank: 13511
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

An inside account of the Hell's Angels, told by one of its most notorious leaders.
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Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint at heart
This book reveals the secrets and lifestyles of the notorious Hells Angels that for so long have been shrouded in scandal, mystery and fear. Written by an ex Hells Angel himself, Wethern recounts his lifestyle with the Angels from the first beginnings of the gangs operation in California, his friendship with well known gang president Sonny, orgies, criminal activity and the rapid decline of the gang and Wethern himself as drugs became the way of life and huge source of power and income. Wethern, now hidden somewhere in the states with new identity for him and his family in fear of his life as a result of co-operating with police and officials and giving informatiuon and indeed writing this book that blows the lid on the activities of a gang that is unmerciless in it's punishment of offenders, it's disregard for police, women and just about anything, but that is fiercely loyal to the brotherhood of gang members and loyalty to the president at all costs. In what would seem an act of clearing his conscience Wethern tells his tale in a way that exposes the reader to not only the innner workings of this secret gang, but also the brokenness, regret and fear that comes from living the life of a wayward angel. ... Read more

13. Ponzi's Scheme : The True Story of a Financial Legend
list price: $25.95
our price: $17.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400060397
Catlog: Book (2005-03-08)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 17368
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (6)

5-0 out of 5 stars Best book I've read this year!
I needn't write a lengthy review as some of my fellowarmchair critics included here have done. I will only second what themajority of them have said. Even J. Edgar Hoover would have had a difficult time disliking this guy!. I'm sure if one had actually been there and suffered personal losses as too many did, he would see it much differently, but from the perspective of this author, Ponzi was a most likeable person and you can't help rooting for him, and poor loyal Rose) until the bitter end! Buy this book! You'll be glad you did.

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging and Entertaining
In a very engaging account of the arguably the "best" financial scam (before Enron days atleast), Zuckoff narrates the fascinating story an Italian immigrant to the US and his seemingly unending tale of woe, charm, financial trickery - all combined! As the plot (even though this is an actual account of real events, it reads as if it were one of the best written thriller!) develops, one cannot but imagine if any other person could have survived the events Ponzi had to suffer through. Using a brilliant narrative technique, the author develops the main actors' roles in a systematic manner, most notably those of Charles Ponzi, his wife, and Gozier (publisher).

Each chapter also includes a reproduction of a relevant photograph obtained from the famed Post, Boston Library and other sources. Those pictures are so well chosen that they capture the essence of the ensuing chapter very well.

As can be expected from a professor of journalism, the book is well documented with plenty of detailed notes and bibliography for any serious reader.

It should be pointed out that the Epilogue should not be forgotten at all. The unravelling of the "plot" happens mostly in the epilogue and contains numerous twists and turns associated with the fascinating life of Charles Ponzi.

An excellent read, but make sure you have cleared out an entire day or weekend for it, because once you start reading it, you wont stop until you are at the last page!

5-0 out of 5 stars +++COULDN'T PUT IT DOWN!!!!!+++
LOVED this book.Zuckoff's account reads like a well-honed work of fiction, but, as he states in his notes on sources, "the truth was better than anything I could have invented."

The unexpected bonus was a marvelously interesting history of early 20th century Boston politics and newspapers.I grew up here and had heard tell of many of the names mentioned in the book, but never had them fully fleshed out.And of course, I now fully understand the meaning of the phrase, "Ponzi scheme."

Mr. Ponzi was a charming thief, and though he brought ruin through unethical means to countless people whose faith was terribly misplaced, Zuckoff understands that in order to "hate" a character, you have to care about him first.No good villian is 100 percent evil, otherwise, the reader has nothing invested his his tale except clean and simple revenge.In Zuckoff's hands, the verifiable facts of Ponzi's life and character bring to life a villian who adores and is faithful to his wife, loves his mother, literally gives the skin of his back to a stranger, and accumulates 15 million dollars in 10's from laborers and 100,000's from Brahmins and thinks, in the end, he can make good by literally robbing his own bank.

You couldn't make this stuff up, and lucky for us, Zuckoff didn't have to!


5-0 out of 5 stars The Friendly Thief
We've all heard of the Ponzi Scheme, what they referred to in that era as "robbing Peter to pay Paul".But this well researched book traces the tragic story of how Charles Ponzi came to America, what he did before the Ponzi scheme and what happened to him afterwards.It would make a great movie! Situated in Boston, he ran ads for great returns and when many middle class people invested, publicity soon followed with various members of the media warning that it was a scam.No common criminal, he took the press on and argued the opposite winning much public support.

It is a fascinating tale!The side story of the faithful wife who only wanted her husband at home without the money and the final outcome of their marriage is also heartwarming and tragic.

I like business biographies and this certainly qualifies although I wouldn't consider him the classic success story.This book offers so much more with detailed history of that time period and the roles regulators, politicians and media played in society at that time.And the story itself is charming in many ways.Charles Ponzi was a common man that on the surface became wealthy and everyone rooted for him.But it only lasted so long.If you have interest in finance you will like this book.If you have interest in the history of the early 1900s in this growing country you will be interested.If you like novels and good character growth I think this will also be of interest as it reads like a novel as he develops his scheme.

5-0 out of 5 stars The fascinating and entertaining story behind the term
We have all heard and used the term Ponzi Scheme, but almost none of us living today know the story that gave birth to the term.In this skilful and intelligent biography of Charles Ponzi, Mitchell Zuckoff shows us Ponzi's character flaws, his charisma, how he developed his scheme(s), and how the enemies he made brought him down.

Charles Ponzi was born Carlo Ponzi in 1882 in the town of Lugo, Italy.His family sacrificed to send him to a prestigious university where he fell in with rich kids whose lifestyle he enjoyed.In trying to keep with them he ended up having to leave school without finishing.His family sent him to America where the streets were paved with gold, so they told him.Of course, like most Italian immigrants of the time, he had hard times.However, hard work was distasteful to him.

This combination of a desire to live rich lifestyle combined with a disdain for hard work and an impatience to build wealth led him, predictably, to problems with the law.He was obsessed with get-rich-quick schemes.Then came the lightening bolt.In 1920, he saw an International Reply Coupon.These coupons were merely meant to provide prepaid return postage for international mail.Let's say I sent a vendor in a foreign country a contract.I could include the appropriate coupon so my vendor could return the signed contract at my expense.

Ponzi had about 1/3 of a good idea (noticing the mispricings between the currency exchange rates and the fixed priced coupons).He knew that there were mispricings in these coupons because of the currency devaluations in certain currencies after the Great War.So, all he had to do was buy coupons that were under priced, turn them into stamps, turn the stamps into cash, and he would have oceans of money!So, he plunged ahead without bothering to work out all the details in his scheme.But he needed cash to start the ball rolling.The solution was Ponzi notes.He offered 50% interest on your money in 45 - 90 days.He found the first few "investors" and when he paid on time, money began flowing in.Soon it was a torrent of cash.It wasn't long before Ponzi had an ocean of money; millions of dollars.He was big news and a hero to many.He developed a patter noting how he was making all this happen for the little guy because he didn't care about money whereas banks took all their profits for their shareholders.

Zuckoff writes a fascinating account of how Ponzi tried to find a way of going "legit" while he robbed Peter to pay Paul as he stalled for time.Unfortunately for Ponzi, his sudden and shocking success brought unwanted attention from government and media types including the Boston Post.It is kind of funny how things went bad for Ponzi because the people who were after him had less of a clue than he did (except for C.W. Barron - the financial writer).The author also shows us the one true thing in Ponzi's life, his love for his wife, Rose.

It is hard to feel too sorry for those ending up losing money in this scheme.They were also going after quick riches and even under the best of circumstances high return investments also have high risks of losing everything.Of course, Ponzi's scheme was no investment, and it was all risk.There was never much of a chance that it would ever do anything but crash.Although, I couldn't figure out why he didn't try gradually lowering his interest rate and extending the return period.It doesn't matter.Those after him were going to bring him down anyway.

The book takes us through the trials and jail terms.Ponzi's fame had made him too politically profitable to be left alone or punished only once.His life ends sadly as do the lives of a few of those who built their careers going after him.It seems to me this book would make a fabulous movie or mini-series.However, you would have to find just the right actor to pull off Ponzi's greatest assets: his confidence and charm.He was only five foot two so; the actor would also have to be short.

Anyway, this is a terrifically entertaining read and I recommend it. ... Read more

by James B. Stewart
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 067179227X
Catlog: Book (1992-09-01)
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Sales Rank: 5246
Average Customer Review: 4.39 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A number-one bestseller from coast to coast, Den of Thieves tells, in masterfully reported detail, the full story of the insider-trading scandal that nearly destroyed Wall Street, the men who pulled it off, and the chase that finally brought them to justice. Pulitzer Prize winner James B. Stewart shows for the first time how four of the biggest names on Wall Street -- Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Martin Siegel, and Dennis Levine -- created the greatest insider-trading ring in financial history and almost walked away with billions, until a team of downtrodden detectives triumphed over some of America's most expensive lawyers to bring this powerful quartet to justice.

Based on secret grand jury transcripts, interviews, and actual trading records, and containing explosive new revelations about Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky written especially for this paperback edition, Den of Thieves weaves all the facts into an unforgettable narrative -- a portrait of human nature, big business, and crime of unparalleled proportions. ... Read more

Reviews (46)

5-0 out of 5 stars James B. Stewart, great journalist, suberb story teller!
An absolutely outstanding look at the '80s Wall Street culture and the inside operations of Michael R. Milken, Dennis B. Levine, Ivan F. Boesky, Martin Siegel... and many, many other players on Wall Street, including U.S. Attorney Rudolph Giuliani & the SEC investigations. Wall Street--Economic History worthy of reading.

Other great, outstanding books on the subject: "A Licence to Steal: The untold story of Michael Milken and the conspiracy to bilk the nation." by Benjamin J. Stein; and also: "Ther Predators's Ball" by Connie Bruck.

And because James B. Stewart is such an outstanding writer, I also read, which was a great book as well, written in story book fashion again: "Blood Sport: The President and his Adversaries" by James B. Stewart, a #1 New York Times Bestseller.

5-0 out of 5 stars "Den" of Inequity
In Den of Thieves, James Stewart gives us a gripping account of the insider trading ring that almost brought down Wall Street.

As a student studying finance, I was told to read this book by my cousin who worked in the financial world. After I finished, I had a more realistic view of the intensity of Wall Street. This intense competition and desire for money drove some people over the edge. Such was the case for Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Terry Mulheren, and their cohorts. To a certain extent, these men were driven to cheat and steal by insatiable greed.

You do not have to know much about the financial world to enjoy this fast paced thriller. The joy in this book is in the hunt. Once the SEC became aware of Milken's activities, they had to find a way to prove it and then had to take Milken down. Once Milken was taken out of his office in handcuffs and Rudy Guliani began to build his case, Milken's "associates" began to sing like canaries in the hope of cutting a deal with the government.

I love reading books about criminals who get what is coming to them. Michael Milken and friends deserved every bit of jail time they got. This definitely a book about criminals getting what they deserved. James Stewart draws you in within the first 20 pages, from there I hope you have some spare time because you will not be able to put it down.

5-0 out of 5 stars If you enjoy the investment world, this is for you!
This was one book that I could not put down. The book is broken into large sections, each dealing with a particular criminal and his corresponding activities. In-depth descriptions of what was going on behind the scenes at some of the most respected financial firms of the time--absolutely fascinating. If you were around in the 80's, and you work/participate in the investment industry, this should be required historical reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Gripping and Accurate
Having re-read this book last week, it took me back to a time and a place I really didn't want to visit but found I should. Having been lured to Drexel, Burnham as a senior executive (from Morgan, Stanley in 1986) only weeks before the scandals hit -- and having witnessed the lava-roast at that firm -- it amazes me how Mr. Stewart was able to re-create events. Along with Predators' Ball, this book serves as an example of the power of quality investigative journalism. Filled with my own stories of similar dealings, I understand fully that his observations hit dead-center at the bullseye of the truth of that decade.

One comment in the Epilogue struck me as almost sad. Mr. Stewart says, in the wake of these scandals: "Wall Street has given every sign of being severely chastened." Too bad that wasn't the case.

Now myself a writer with somewhat less courage, perhaps, than Mr. Stewart (I've written about abuses/dangers on Wall Street, but write them as financial thrillers and opinion pieces -- it's safer, I think), I can only hope that with each scandal we get a little more honest, a little more chastened. Too bad I don't see that happening. Not yet, at least.

5-0 out of 5 stars INCREDIBLE!!!
This book is amazing. I love reading financial and investing books and this one is just amazing. Its capitvating beginning to end. The way the author subtly explains very technical investing terms is awesome. I had know who the characters were but not the entire depth of their situations. This book tells all! I cant wait to read more of the authors work! ... Read more

15. Paddy Whacked: The Untold Story of the Irish-American Gangster
by T. J. English
list price: $27.95
our price: $18.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060590025
Catlog: Book (2005-02-15)
Publisher: ReganBooks
Sales Rank: 24733
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Here is the shocking true saga of the Irish American mob, from the mid-nineteenth century all the way to the present day. History shows that the heritage of the Irish American gangster was established in America long before that of the more widely portrayed Italian American mafioso, and has held strong through the modern age. In fact, the highest-ranking organized crime figure on the FBI's Ten Most Wanted List -- alongside Osama bin Laden -- is not a wiseguy, a Latin King, or a gangbanging Blood or Crip, but an old-style Irish American mob boss from South Boston.

In PADDY WHACKED, bestselling author and organized crime expert T. J. English brings to life nearly two centuries of Irish American gangsterism, which spawned such unforgettable characters as Mike "King Mike" McDonald, Chicago's subterranean godfather; Big Bill Dwyer, New York's most notorious rumrunner during Prohibition; Mickey Featherstone, troubled Vietnam vet turned Westies gang leader from Hell's Kitchen; and James "Whitey" Bulger, the ruthless and untouchable Southie legend. This is an epic story of corrupt politics, wanton murders, gambling empires, notorious brothels, tough women, and hard-drinking pugilists from the underbelly of America's most dangerous cities -- including New York, Boston, New Orleans, Chicago, Kansas City, and Cleveland.

Combining storytelling verve with thorough research and a slew of never-before-published material -- including new interviews with former gang members -- English presents a riveting, seamless cultural history of the Irish American underworld. He offers a brilliant portrait of a people who fought tooth and nail for a better life from the moment they arrived in America, whether it meant taking charge within the realms of law enforcement and politics -- from Tammany Hall to the White House -- or capitalizing on what opportunities they could in the darker world beyond the law. PADDY WHACKED is an irresistible tour of the undercarriage of our history -- a ride that stretches from the earliest New York and New Orleans street wars through decades of bootlegging scams, union strikes, gang wars, and FBI investigations ... and along the way deepens our understanding of the American experience. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars A triumph of research and story telling
TJ English's "Paddy Whacked" joins the pantheon of excellent books on terrible subject -- gangsters.While English has done a great deal of original research for this book, he is also to be credited for compiling previously published, stories, profiles and items into a single breathtaking volume on Irish gangs and criminals in America.
English traces the most notorious criminals and gangs from the time of the great potato famine migration to present day.Starting with the story ofmid 19th century boxer/politician/criminal John Morrisey, through the innumerable gangs of the later 19th century, through Owney Madden, Bugs Moran and others of the prohibition era, through Joseph Kennedy, to Whitey Bulger (currently still on the lam).
It will not surprise readers that so many of the featured figures met untimely ends, often violent ones.Readers will also see the relationship of Irish gangs with other ethnic groups, particularly the Mafia, and how the Irish gangs were eventually squeezed out of business by La Cosa Nostra.Also, the lines between organized crime and legitimate business are seen to be blurry -- a common and appropriate theme of recent works on criminal gangs.
English is a terrific storyteller.He has a knack for selecting the right stories about the right people to illustrate the overall tale and his pacing is excellent. At no point does "Paddy Whacked" lag.
English also puts his stories within the context of greater sociological, and political events of the times.
Many of the stories are graphic -- as they should be.It is easy to fall into the trap of romanticizing thugs and killers of the past, English never does, revealing the true brutality and selfishness of their actions.
"Paddy Whacked" is a triumph of research, compilation and story telling.It is at once an entertaining and important book.

5-0 out of 5 stars the italians aint so tough
(i'm 13) This is a great book that shows how tough and brutal the Irish mob really was and still is.It goes from the time of the early Irish gangsters from Tammany Hall up to Whitey Bulger who is still on the FBI'S ten most wanted list. This book also has good infro on the war between the Irish and the italians in New York, Chicago, and Boston from Prohibition up 2 now. It also has some good info on the Westies, the Hell's Kithcen Irish gang on Manhattan's West Side which terrorized the place for 20 years. they were so powerful that the mafia had 2 make an alliance with them for fear of being overrun by 'em.If you want some good info on the Irish mob from the 1850's to Present day i would definately reccomend this book

5-0 out of 5 stars Certainly Gives You a Different Light
And all this time I thought that the big time gangsters in this country came from Sicily. I guess that comes from the Godfather movies. Then this book said that the Most Wanted Gangster on the FBI's list was an old fashioned Irish American mob boss by the name of James Bulger.

I had to check, but sure enough on the FBI web site ( you can find the ten most wanted and there he is, just below Usama Bin Laden. Not only that, but there is a $1,000,000 reward for finding him (Bin Laden is worth $27,000,000).

This is, as best I can determine the first book devoted to the Irish American gangsters that's been published. The most interesting, by far, of the people discussed in the book are the Kennedy family. Papa Joe was quite a character, a flagrant womanizer, who made his fortune by importing bootleg whiskey that he supplied to Al Capone. This also puts a different impression on Robert Kennedy's attempt to blame "the Mafia" - Italian based, as the source of organized crime in the U.S.

This is quite a book, recommended to anyone who is interested in crime history, or even the political history of the Kennedys.

5-0 out of 5 stars A real eye-opener
Anyone who thinks they know the full story of organized crime in the U.S. is in for a surprise when they read this book. 'Paddy Whacked' starts with the Irish potato famine and comes right up to the present. The research is awesome and the writing style very witty and entertaining (I especially liked the chapter titles and sub-titles within the chapters). The book is long and in-depth with many names and events but well worth the time it takes to read. The early history in New York, New Orleans and Chicago is fascinating. The chapter on Joseph P. Kennedy and the JFK assassination was shocking to me. And I never before read anthing about the gang wars in Boston in the early 1960's that helped Whitey Bulger rise to power. Even though I've read lots of books on organized crime and was aware of many of the events in this story, they are told from a new perspective that made me think about it in an interesting way. This may be the best overview-type book ever written about the Mob in America. ... Read more

16. Laci : Inside the Laci Peterson Murder (St. Martin's True Crime Library)
by Michael Fleeman
list price: $6.99
our price: $6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0312995857
Catlog: Book (2003-12-07)
Publisher: St. Martin's True Crime
Sales Rank: 17636
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Praying for a happy ending, friends and family stood by Laci's grieving husband Scott. Four months later, Laci's decomposed body was found in the murky waters of San Francisco Bay. The body of her child had washed ashore about a mile away, after a possible "coffin birth." It was a sad closure to an exhaustive search, and a grim end to a marriage that by all accounts had appeared to be perfect.

Scott Peterson's behavior had cast a mysterious shadow over the death of his pregnant wife: his alibi on the day of the disappearance was questionable; he admitted to an affair with another woman; and when he was finally charged with capital murder, he had altered his appearance. Almost immediately, the media condemned Scott, even though he maintains his innocence. Is Scott Peterson a victim of circumstantial evidence? Despite the state attorney general's claim of a "slam dunk", the case that has gripped the nation is much more complex, and is yielding even more questions, doubts, accusations, and shocking revelations.
... Read more

Reviews (2)

2-0 out of 5 stars Left wanting more...
There's really not a lot of inside information here. The book is basically an account of all public information. The pictures included are nothing personal, no interviews with family or others tied to the case. There is no closure with this book. It was interesting, as I had not followed the case closely, but I was definitely left wanting more. If I had it to do over, I would not buy this book. I actually threw it away when I finished reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great
I really enjoy reading books about real life events. This book was great. I learned new information about the case and I have followed the case closely. ... Read more

17. Legends of Winter Hill : Cops, Con Men, and Joe McCain, the Last Real Detective
by Jay Atkinson
list price: $24.00
our price: $16.32
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1400050758
Catlog: Book (2005-03-15)
Publisher: Crown
Sales Rank: 42643
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (1)

4-0 out of 5 stars Flavorful, fast-paced and entertaining
Okay, the title is a bit much.But I enjoyed this book tremendously.Some of the criticisms point to the elements I liked best.The routine cases, how they were approached, and the results were a revelation to someone who has no real idea of police work except what I've seen on "Cops" (constant action and crisis!).There was a new story on every page, and I wound up reading until 1 a.m. on a work day because I just couldn't help reading "one more page".The descriptions of the surroundings, the characters, the sounds and smells of the settings, conjured up a real sense of being there.I was fascinated by the character faults and virtues of the people in the book, as Atkinson tried to remain true to McCain's philosophy that most people aren't entirely good or bad.As a resident of the area, I finally understand the gang wars that were taking place when I was growing up (I remember the old Boston Record American newpaper with the crime scene photos splashed across the front).I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who lives in the Northeast, and to others who'd like a glimpse into how Boston politics are practiced in every profession! ... Read more

18. Under the Banner of Heaven : A Story of Violent Faith
list price: $26.00
our price: $16.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0385509510
Catlog: Book (2003-07-15)
Publisher: Doubleday
Sales Rank: 1057
Average Customer Review: 3.99 out of 5 stars
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In 1984, Ron and Dan Lafferty murdered the wife and infant daughter of their younger brother Allen. The crimes were noteworthy not merely for their brutality but for the brothers' claim that they were acting on direct orders from God. In Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer tells the story of the killers and their crime but also explores the shadowy world of Mormon fundamentalism from which the two emerged. The Mormon Church was founded, in part, on the idea that true believers could speak directly with God. But while the mainstream church attempted to be more palatable to the general public by rejecting the controversial tenet of polygamy, fundamentalist splinter groups saw this as apostasy and took to the hills to live what they believed to be a righteous life. When their beliefs are challenged or their patriarchal, cult-like order defied, these still-active groups, according to Krakauer, are capable of fighting back with tremendous violence. While Krakauer's research into the history of the church is admirably extensive, the real power of the book comes from present-day information, notably jailhouse interviews with Dan Lafferty. Far from being the brooding maniac one might expect, Lafferty is chillingly coherent, still insisting that his motive was merely to obey God's command. Krakauer's accounts of the actual murders are graphic and disturbing, but such detail makes the brothers' claim of divine instruction all the more horrifying. In an age where Westerners have trouble comprehending what drives Islamic fundamentalists to kill, Jon Krakauer advises us to look within America's own borders. --John Moe ... Read more

Reviews (379)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
I've been a fan of Krakauer since Into the Wild debuted. Since I have many Mormon relatives (I'm not LDS myself) and have spent a good deal of time in several different parts of Utah, I eagerly anticipated the release of this book.

Krakauer presents an objective, coherent and well-researched history of the Mormon religion, with detailed biographical info on its founder, Joseph Smith, and an explanation of key elements of the Book of Mormon.

The greatest strength of this book is Krakauer's ability to introduce the reader to a wide range of people connected to Mormon fundamentalism -- fundamentalists themselves, women and children who've suffered unspeakable degradation and abuse within fundamentalist communities, and "mainstream" Mormons who claim no connection whatsoever with the fundamentalist viewpoint, despite undeniable historical and contemporary ties. Readers get to know these people, making the impact of the story that much stronger.

If you've read Into the Wild or Into Thin Air, you're familiar with Krakauer's brilliant writing style and ability to tell an incredibly compelling non-fiction story. He's easily one of the greatest literary journalists ever published and he's to be congratulated for taking on a monumental project like this, one that he knew would upset some powerful folks in a very serious way. Hopefully, the book will attract enough attention for lawmakers to finally do something to help people trapped in hellish environments run by self-proclaimed prophets and their henchmen.

There've been news reports about the LDS church's negative reaction to this book, and some of the Amazon reviewers have unfairly (IMO) labeled it a one-sided attack on the church. I didn't get that impression at all. The book is exhaustively researched and Krakauer's language is fair and objective. I get the impression that he's guilty only of bringing to light some truths that some folks would prefer stayed locked away in a Salt Lake City vault.

I hope that LDS members will take the time to read the book and fairly examine its contents and intent before making judgements against it.

5-0 out of 5 stars When Faith Goes Too Far...
Krakauer uses the 1984 Lafferty Murders in Provo to launch an
exploration into the roots and evolution of the present-day Mormon (LDS)
fundamentalist movement. Krakauer presents what may be the most
comprehensive and current assesment of the polygamous/fundamentalist
movement -- the origins, the key players, the major communes, the legal
battles, and the abuses of women, children and the welfare system.

Krakauer devotes appropriate attention to the history of mormonism,
which is refreshingly less glossy (and concerned with PR) then other
mainstream accounts have been. Krakauer, unlike many authors who need
the church's assistance with their research, is not afraid to make
frequent reference to "No Man Knows My History", D. Michael Quinn, and
numerous unflattering historical documents and sources.

Joseph Smith is portrayed as the cunning, charismatic, delusional,
egomaniacal charlatan that he was, and his frequent run-ins with the
law, the government, supporters, wives (including women that were married to other men) are laid out in
brilliant detail.

The historical background of Joseph Smith and the beginnings of Mormonism is detailed, flows well, and dares to include details that most books by LDS authors omit. The historical review covers Joseph Smith's rise to power, his unquestioned spiritual power, and his plans for glory. The reader will learn how 14 year old girls were forced to marry the prophet (or face "spiritual destruction"), and how roving bands of Mormon "avengers" dispatched those who stood in the way of Joseph's kingdom.

The story moves to Brigham Young's reign (after Joseph's assasination and a schism over polygamy), the arrival of the saints in the Salt Lake Valley and the ensuing battle with the US government over polygamy. The Mountain Meadows massacre is explored with a precision not seen since Juanita Brooks landmark work on the subject. The Massacre was the premeditated, rehearsed and sanctioned slaughter of an entire emigrant wagon train from Arkansas that was unfortunate enough to pass through Utah. Visits to the site by Federal Investigators revealed a field "strewn with bodies..." and mangled bones of "men, women, children and infants." The massacre was a sort benchmark for the church in Utah; it established that the practice of slaying those who stood in the way of the kingdom would continue in the new Zion (Utah). As the Lafferty murders clearly illustrate, this practice continues to this day.

Krakauer makes the argument that it
was polygamy, and the church's love/hate relationship with the practice,
that gave birth to the fundamentalist movement and continues to fuel it to this day.

The history of polygamy is laid out right up until the present day,
where the focus is turned to the backgrounds of the Lafferty brothers,
who brutally murdered a sister-in-law and her infant daughter.

Instead of simply retelling the sick and gory story a la "USA Movie of
the Week", Krakauer delves into the twisted psyche of the mormon
fundamentalist, and explores how these men went from upstanding members
of the church to self-proclaimed prophets to cold-blooded killers.

This detailed and well-thought examination of the knots, bumps and
bruises in Mormon history and theology is unique to non-academic
writing, and is very engaging. Krakauer effectively draws upon
testimony from the trial (psychologists, witnesses, etc) and his own
interviews with the convicted at The Point Of The Mountain to point the
blame exactly where it falls: upon the mormon church, and it's
founders and leaders.

His concluding analysis of the current state of the LDS church and its
many fractured spin-offs is refreshingly up-to-date, and the author's
after word provides valuable insight into his opinions on organized
religion, and specifically the mormon faith.

This book is a breath of fresh air into LDS studies, and has the unique
benefit of being written by an immensely well-respected nonbeliever
under a major publisher.

This is one of the strongest examinations of mormonism in print,
because it is not an "anti-mormon" work. As indicated by modern church
leadership and public relations, nothing is more "anti-mormon" then the church's own
history, leaders, and fundamentalist members. "Under The Banner of
Heaven" is a factual, analytical treatise of a religion that has an
extremely dark and bloody past, and dares to bring to light the painful
legacy that that Mormonism perpetuates to this day.

For anyone who has left the church, is investigating the church, is LDS
or knows someone who is LDS, I strongly recommend this book.

Sociology, American History, Current Affairs and Religion bookworms
will also find this to be an especially compelling read...

4-0 out of 5 stars An objective, eye-opener
I had read this author before and liked his work. I checked this book from the public library. I could not have guessed that he grew up Mormon until he tells the reader near the end of the book. There's so much here that I did not know. Fascinating.

5-0 out of 5 stars Right on the Money
Jon Krakauer is a superb writer who has taken a controversial subject and not only explained it objectively, but made it entertaining as well. I have read a great deal about the Mormons, my interest spurred by the fact that two of my grandmother's first cousins were wives of John Doyle Lee, and it is incomprehensible to me that any modern woman would tolerate for one moment the abuse and subjection that the church imposes in the name of religion. In the old days, most women were at the mercy of their husbands, but the brainwashing of today is criminal. This is a powerful plea for universal public education, as well as an alert Department of Human Services.

3-0 out of 5 stars Great story, but author interprets history
This was a fascinating book, but when I finished the last page I felt like I had read a 365-page story from the National Enquirer. The book oozes with juicy descriptions of fundamentalist Mormons, murderers who kill in the name of God, and the checkered history of the Mormon Church.

If you're expecting a clinical dissection of a murder, skip this book. It claims to focus on two brothers (Ron and Dan Lafferty) who murdered a woman and her baby two decades ago, but only one-third of the book really talks about the murder. Another third covers the history of the Mormon church, and the final third is a startling (and equally gossipy) survey of polygamist communities from Utah to Canada to Mexico.

As a story, the book hits a home run. Krakauer is a great writer, and his eye for detail is devastating. You read descriptions of the polygamist communities and you feel like laughing at the crackpots and crying for the victims at the same time.

Unfortunately--and this is why I give the book only three stars--Krakauer can't merely document the history and describe the events. His book quietly advocates two stealth theses. They don't belong in a book like this, at least not secretly, and I think the second thesis is wrong anyway.

His theses, which are never spelled out completely but nevertheless lurk below the surface in every chapter, are that (a) religion is a waste, and (b) the mainstream Mormon church has infused its followers with such a spirit of violence that it must share in the blame when its fanatic followers go berserk. These are perfectly valid topics to contemplate, but if you put them forth you should come clean and say so out loud, and then give data to prove them. Krakauer's book tries to prove these theses with anecdotes, extremely narrow vignettes of deranged persons, and sensationalized histories of century-old events. For example, we never hear what the "mainstream" polygamists think of the Laffertys' crime. I think they would probably denounce it, but Krakauer isn't going to give them voice in his book because it would weaken his second thesis. Instead (surprise, surprise) the last chapter revolves around an ex-fundamentalist who found his salvation in atheism. What's his connection to the Lafferty crime? None.

Krakauer is extrapolating a line from a single point. Can you really draw general conclusions about a worldwide church from the actions of two fundamentalist kooks? Krakauer thinks you can. Worse, he conflates three very different things (the mainstream Mormon church, the fundamentalist polygamists, and the Lafferty brothers) to the point where naive readers will start thinking they're all the same thing.

The author has right to ask hard questions about religion and the Mormon church, but I think it's wrong to write contentious things by making unilateral interpretations without giving all sides of the story.

The Appendix to my edition of the book (Anchor) contained a negative review of "Under the Banner of Heaven" by a Mormon official. Krakauer engages him and debates fair and square for a few pages. What the shame the rest of the book wasn't like that. ... Read more

19. Killing Pablo: The Hunt for the World's Greatest Outlaw
by Mark Bowden
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0142000957
Catlog: Book (2002-04-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 6018
Average Customer Review: 4.37 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

A tour de force of investigative journalism-this is the story of the violent rise and fall of Pablo Escobar, the head of the Colombian Medellin cocaine cartel. Escobar's criminal empire held a nation of thirty million hostage in a reign of terror that would only end with his death. In an intense, up-close account, award-winning journalist Mark Bowden exposes details never before revealed about the U.S.-led covert sixteen-month manhunt. With unprecedented access to important players-including Colombian president C&eacutesar Gaviria and the incorruptible head of the special police unit that pursued Escobar, Colonel Hugo Martinez-as well as top-secret documents and transcripts of Escobar's intercepted phone conversations, Bowden has produced a gripping narrative that is a stark portrayal of rough justice in the real world.

"The story of how the U.S. Army Intelligence and Delta Force commandos helped Colombian police track down and kill Pablo Escobar is a compelling, almost Shakespearean tale." (Los Angeles Times)

"Absolutely riveting. . . . Mark Bowden has a way of making modern nonfiction read like the best of novels." (The Denver Post)
... Read more

Reviews (126)

4-0 out of 5 stars Second to Black Hawk Down
Killing Pablo is a book that should have been made into a movie. It had every aspect of a good movie needed to succeed. Pablo Escobar, who was at the time, the single most powerful drug trafficker in the world. As he became more powerful, he believed the more people needed to be taken out. Little did he know this was the beginning of his long and violent downfall. Mark Bowden again delivers a book that reads very easy. Full of information about hundreds of people involved with either Pablo's rise or Pablo's fall, Killing Pablo is one of the most informitive books I have read about beginning of the drug wars that have consumed the United States of America for now well over 10 years. With the current escalating situation in South America, Killing Pablo is a great book to gain a better understanding of why exactly there are American soldiers down there. I would recomend this book to anybody who enjoys furthering their knowledge of modern day wars, or who has enjoyed books like this, for example Black Hawk Down, in the past. I give it 4 stars because it is not as good as Black Hawk Down, and doesnt deserve to be given and equal rating. A very well done book though.

3-0 out of 5 stars Informative, yet unfulfilling
For a straight journalistic account of how the U.S. Government joined forces with elements of the Colombian government to hunt down and kill Pablo Escobar, "Killing Pablo" brings the goods. The years long pursuit of the man many considered to be the world's most notorious outlaw was punctuated by epic corruption and fantastic levels of sickening violence. All of this author Mark Bowdon scrupulously documents. The problem with the book is that Bowden has no sources who were truly on the inside of Escobar's empire. This is not surprising given that most of his associates were killed. But without first hand accounts of many of the violent incidents, they become a blur of facts that eventually become mind numbing. By all accounts, Escobar was a cunning and ruthless man, but without first hand accounts, the reader really doesn't get to know him. As a result, Bowden's narrative tends to drag after awhile.

Bowden does an excellent job of humanizing the men, both American and Colombian, who were reponsible for Escobar's downfall. But their stories are just not as interesting. Ultimately, at the end of the book Bowden shows just how futile the drug war has been to date. It would be nice to think that the book might help America rethink its drug startegy. But I think that's being overly optomistic.

4-0 out of 5 stars Reading Pablo
I picked up this book because I really liked Black Hak Down. This book is written in the same style that made BHD a great book. There is great attention to detail, personal portraits of the characters, and an ever-evolving storyline. My exposure to Pablo Escobar before this book was just a brief understanding that he was a drug dealer from way back. Other than that I could not tell you much about the guy. But after reading this book, I have a much better understanding of the man and why the U.S. wanted him neutralized.

Great read. Quick read. Must buy.

5-0 out of 5 stars an interesting argument against the drug war
This book, inadvertently, I suspect, is really an argument against the drug war. By now a cliche, this line of thought postulates that, were drugs like cocaine not criminalized in the states, there would be no or little incentive for murderous thugs in Latin America to risk murder and lengthy prison times getting the drug in this country.

Thus, one could argue, quite blithely, that, had the American government wised up and attempted to regulate drug trafficking like any other international business, many of the unsavory elements of the business would depart for greener (more illicit) pastures. The natural consequence of this, of course, would be that millions of dollars otherwise spent on futile attempts at interdiction and eradication would be spent elsewhere, and many of the thousands of people killed both in the United States and Latin America over the past 25 years would instead be alive.

Would that it were true that the United States could hew to the lessons learned in the alcohol trade: once alcohol was legal again in the United States and it became a regulated drug sold only to people legally eligible to buy it, the violence associated with it declined precipitously. In fact, the only violence associated with alcohol use today is domestic violence and drunk driving. Those violent acts, while of course tragic to all those involved in them, are far fewer and far less bloody than the gang wars initiated by Al Capone and his antogonists.

That the same lesson applies in the drug war is sad.

On another note, a number of reviewers on this site have mentioned many apparent parallels between the hunt for Pablo Escobar and the hunt for Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. While it is true that, superficially, there are parallels, such as the US government deciding that its national security in all three instances was at risk with these monsters operating openly, it is nonetheless an unfair comparison. Relatively few Colombians liked Escobar, and he never had the legitimacy of the state behind him, as did Hussein.

Given all that, this is an excellent account of the travails leading up to, and concluding with, the execution of Escobar.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Read
This book was a great read. I had always been interested in the story about Pablo's rise and fall, and this book was very well written, and informative. ... Read more

20. Death's Acre: Inside the Legendary Forensic Lab-The Body Farm-Where The Dead Do Tell Tales
by Bill, Dr. Blass, Jon Jefferson
list price: $14.00
our price: $10.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0425198324
Catlog: Book (2004-09-01)
Publisher: Berkley Publishing Group
Sales Rank: 23534
Average Customer Review: 4.23 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Dr. Bill Bass, one of the world's leading forensic anthropologists, gained international attention when he built a forensic lab like no other: The Body Farm. Now, this master scientist unlocks the gates of his lab to reveal his most intriguing cases-and to revisit the Lindbergh kidnapping and murder, fifty years after the fact. ... Read more

Reviews (26)

5-0 out of 5 stars Must read for forensic science buffs
I am from Knoxville, TN, and have grown up with the "mystery" of the body farm. The book is wonderful in its detail of how and why the research facility was started. I read the book in two days, and was left with wanting more. For those in the southeast area, you might recognize some of the case studies mentioned in the book, and it's interesting to find out how much UT's anthropology department was involved in those cases.

It was also nice to learn more about Dr. Bass' personal life, not just his vital stats. He is a bit of a local legend, so it was nice to see the "human" side of him in this book.

For anyone interested in forensic science, don't pass up this chance to learn more about it!

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent
This is a book that is hard to put down. Those who have read Patrica Cornwell's novel, "The Body Farm", are already familiar with the forensic lab set up by Dr. Bill Bass that studies decomposition of the human body. In "Death's Acre" Bass tells the non-fiction account of how the body farm came to be. Along with the forensic details, are interesting cases that Bass has worked. The cases explain the need for this often gruesome line of study. Thomas Noguchi and Michael Baden used this method very effectively in educating the public about forensic pathology. Bass now opens the eyes of the public by explaining more about the world of forensic anthropology. This is a fascinating and entertaining book, as Bass is able to convey his story with intelligence, humor, and compassion.

5-0 out of 5 stars Engaging, though not for the faint of heart
This is an utterly fascinating book describing a series of case studies taken from the career of the first author, Bill Bass, who is one of the nation's leading forensic anthropologists and the founder of the Body Farm. I had first encountered the Body Farm from reading about it in the book by Mary Roach, "Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers" (a wickedly funny and interesting book in its own right). I have also had a life-long interest in true crime books, so when I found out about "Death's Acre" I ordered it promptly.

And I was not disappointed. A previous reviewer expressed some dissatisfaction that the book did not deal solely with the work done at the Body Farm. While it is true that the title of the book is perhaps misleading in this regard, I personally am glad that the book focused as much as it did on the variety of cases that Dr. Bass consulted on throughout his career. I find it more interesting to hear about how forensic anthropology can help bring a murderer to justice than to read clinical data regarding just how many maggots can hatch in a body after 30 minutes in what temperature.

This is probably a good time to offer a gentle warning: This is a great book and totally fascinating, but if that last sentence about maggots upset you, you should probably forego buying and reading this book because that is only a mild taste of what you will encounter inside its pages. What happens to a human body after death isn't pretty, and the authors do a great job of describing it clinically and in terms that a lay audience will understand. But you need a pretty strong stomach to deal with it, especially when what is being described is, say, the brutally murdered body of a four-year-old girl. The book also contains a section of photographs, some of which involve decaying bodies (naturally enough given that this is the subject matter of the book), but if you do not particularly want to see pictures of decaying bodies, find another book to read.

But I would not want prospective readers to think that this book is gory just for the sake of sensationalism. The authors draw a compelling portrait of the role of forensic science in solving crimes and convicting the perpetrators of the crimes. The tone of the book is always scientific and the attitude toward the victims and research subjects at the Body Farm highly respectful.

The writing is also terrific. I think Dr. Blass made an excellent decision when he enlisted Jon Jefferson as co-author, as the writing is more literary and enjoyable than you expect from most mainstream academicians. The only suggestion for improvement I would make is that I wish the authors had included a few more pictures or diagrams of some of the more important diagnostic cues that are relied on in determining gender, age, and race. For example, we are repeatedly told of structural differences in the pelvis and skull that help to determine sex; it would have been helpful to see diagrams illustrating those differences.

Bottom line: Terrific book, one that left me half-wishing I had become a forensic anthropologist instead of a psychologist.

5-0 out of 5 stars The BEST book I've read in a long time!
Excellent read - HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

4-0 out of 5 stars Great book! Written for a wide audience. Easy read.
Dr. Bass has created a very interesting and directly written book in Death's Acre. Written in an unconventional format this book tells the history of the Body Farm, contemporary forensic anthropology, and Dr. Bass himself. Interspersed in the historical chronologies are specific forensic cases relating to the events (conception of the Body Farm, etc.) or research they spawned (larval life cycles, etc.). The cases themselves are very compelling stories, but the wonder is that they all relate to events of modern forensic innovation and discovery. Dr. Bass was not the first Forensic Anthropologist, but between his research and his patronage, he has been a leading passenger and teacher in the modern age of discovery. ... Read more

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