Like scores of other readers across the country, I was recently enraptured by the Silicon Valley nightmare tale of Theranos, the healthcare startup that promised to revolutionize blood testing and seduced notable investors, large pharmacy partners, and hopeful customers alike. It never delivered on this promise, but blew through hundreds of millions of dollars and harmed countless livelihoods along the way.
Unfortunately, instances of corporate deceit and fraud like this aren’t new. When power and money are at stake, people often trade in their consciences for more immediately gratifying rewards – and face the consequences when their elaborate schemes spiral out of control.
Theranos now joins names like Bernie Madoff and Enron, forever cemented in history and the syllabi of business ethics courses, as lessons of questionable business practices that you don’t want to believe actually took place. You often only hear about the devastating end result of these scandals, but these books bring you back to the beginning and weave fair, thoughtful tales about how they all transpired.
For a fascinating and often horrifying look into how not to run a business, read these 16 books about some of the biggest corporate scandals and scams of our time.
Captions provided by Amazon and edited for length.
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“Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyou
“The Wizard of Lies” by Diana B. Henriques
“Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron” by Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind
“The Spider Network” by David Enrich
“Red Card: How the U.S. Blew the Whistle on the World’s Biggest Sports Scandal” by Ken Besinger
“Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood, and the World” by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope
“The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” by Michael Lewis
“American Kingpin: The Epic Hunt for the Criminal Mastermind Behind the Silk Road” by Nick Bilton
“Black Edge” by Sheelah Kolhatkar
“Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco” by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar
“The Big Lie: Spying, Scandal, and Ethical Collapse at Hewlett Packard” by Anthony Bianco
“Too Big to Fail” by Andrew Ross Sorkin
“Healthsouth: The Wagon to Disaster” by Aaron Beam and Chris Warner
“Faster, Higher, Farther: The Volkswagen Scandal” by Jack Ewing
“Taking Down the Lion: The Triumphant Rise and Tragic Fall of Tyco’s Dennis Kozlowski” by Catherine S. Neal
“Extraordinary Circumstances: The Journey of a Corporate Whistleblower” by Cynthia Cooper