Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Harry Makes His Mark

Harry Markopolos' book "No One Would Listen" (subtitled: "A True Financial Thriller"), the story of his role as a whistleblower on the Bernard Madoff fraud, told in his own words, was officially released today.

Published by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., here's the gist of the book, as told on the inside front cover:
This is the thrilling, complete story of the pursuit of the greatest financial criminal in history - a chase that put Markopolos's life in jeopardy, led to international notoriety from his appearance on 60 Minutes, and once again opened the door to questions regarding the true effectiveness of the Securities and Exchange Commission... Markopolos's incredible investigation takes readers inside the financial industry, revealing the never-before-told stories behind the headlines.
My local Barnes & Noble (B&N) bookstore told me on Sunday they had the book in-house, but could not release it until the official launch date (today), so I reserved a copy. Anxious to get a start on the book, I ordered the ebook on Sunday (the first time I've been motivated to order an ebook!). One thing that's a little daunting if you're a novice at ebook: the 374-page book runs 1,077 pages (screens) on an iPhone. But it's a real page (screen) turner!

Here's one of the most memorable passages in 'No One Would Listen," based on my reading so far:
"Numbers can't lie, but the people who create those numbers can and do. As so many people have learned, forgetting to include human nature in an equation can be devastating."
Expecting a crowd of like-minded accounting, regulatory, and financial 'geeks' (a term used a few times in Markopolos' book) to be camped out at the doorstep of the B&N store today (similar to the crowd that gathers for the release of those other "Harry" books - which also involve wizards, although not financial wizards), I arrived at my local B&N shortly after it opened today.

Although I didn't see anyone camped out for this Harry's book, here's what I heard about the launch of the book from Dave Hathaway, buyer for B&N:

'No One Would Listen' goes on sale today and already there has been strong interest in the title. This interest was due in part to the author's appearance on the The Today Show yesterday and NPR this morning. We expect that interest in the book will also increase after the author appears on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart next Monday 3/8. The author is very compelling and much of his story about how the investigation developed has not been told.
The book was prominently displayed at my local B&N when I arrived at the store today; a couple photos I took are shown in this post. Photo 1 is a closeup of the display. I also couldn't resist sharing with you Photo 2, which shows an interesting juxtaposition, in the coincidental placement of Markopolos' treatise on the Madoff fraud - a story of 'cooked books' (more precisely, falsified books) - nearby the section on "Cookbooks." The placement is purely coincidental since the Markopolos book is prominently displayed on an endcap right next to the main information desk in the bookstore, and the Cookbook section is nearby.

A website has been set up by Markopolos and his publisher which provides links to info about his book, and some fascinating documentation and other items, including 'resources' for educators, students and others. Following on the name of the book, the website is: http://www.noonewouldlisten.com/.
You may have seen some of the coverage of Markopolos' book earlier this week in the NYT, Huffington Post, or elsewhere; I may have more to say about the book in the future.
UPDATE: Audiobook available
In addition to the hard copy book and ebooks, http://www.audible.com/ (a division of Amazon.com) offers an audiobook version of Harry Markopolos' book, "No One Would Listen," about his quest to prove ponzi schemer Bernard Madoff was a fraud.
Audible.com has made the audiobook of Chapter 1 available for free. The complete audiobook (available for purchase) includes a bonus Chapter 10 which does not appear in the hard copy book or ebook, containing audio interviews of SEC Inspector General David Kotz (whose remarks closely follow the text of the OIG report issued on Labor Day weekend, 2009 on the Madoff affair), as well as interviews with a number of investors who lost money invested with Madoff (including an investor who testified at one of the Congressional hearings on the Madoff affair last year).

One of the more interesting comments Kotz made in the audio interview included in Chapter 10 of the audiobook, which was not in his OIG report, is along the lines of [note: I'm paraphrasing Kotz' words here]: perhaps the fraud went on so long because Madoff had come to believe in his own fictionalized version of the truth, and because he believed in it, it helped him to be all the more convincing. Note also that the page on the audible.com website that advertises the audiobook version of Markopolos' book includes the following "SEC disclaimer:" "The Securities and Exchange Commission disclaims responsibility for any private publication or statement of any SEC employee or Commissioner. This audiobook expresses the author's views and does not necessarily reflect those of the Commission, the Commissioners, or other members of the staff."

If you want to listen to "No One Would Listen," you can order the complete audiobook (including bonus chapter 10) or download the free audiobook version of Chapter 1, by going to http://www.audible.com/noonewouldlisten .
As noted in the original version of this post, I may have further comment on the book, or further comments from others of note, at a future date.

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1 comment:

Edith Orenstein said...

Please note that I updated this post on March 3, to include a note about the audiobook version of Markopolos' book, available at www.audible.com/noonewouldlisten; details are in the update section at the end of the post.