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The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust

3.89  ·  Rating Details  ·  761 Ratings  ·  125 Reviews
The inside story of Bernie Madoff and his $65 billion Ponzi scheme, with surprising and shocking new details from Madoff himself.

Who is Bernie Madoff, and how did he pull off the biggest Ponzi scheme in history?

These questions have fascinated people ever since the news broke about the respected New York financier who swindled his friends, relatives, and other investors out
ebook, 448 pages
Published April 26th 2011 by Times Books (first published August 30th 2010)
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Jun 30, 2012 Jonny99 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating view into the ultimate confidence man. Diana Henriques delves into exactly the correct questions about Bernie Madoff and his epic $64 billion (with a "b") ponzi scheme. First, how does someone live with such a complete betrayal? Madoff raised two boys, sent them to good American schools, has them return to his Wall Street brokerage and money management business and leads them to believe they would inherit the operations on his retirement. He does all this knowing full well the sche ...more
Doriana Bisegna
I don’t know the first thing about the stock market, trading, the NASDAQ or a hedge fund from a stock option...hell, I have trouble balancing my cheque book! So why read this book on the Madoff Ponzi scheme? Well, besides being curious about how someone could swindle over a billion dollars from so many investors from all areas of the world, I wanted to learn more about the stock market, the crash of 2008 and the world of Wall Street. This book does not disappoint. There was way too much Wall Str ...more
Victoria_Grossack Grossack
As if I could not get enough of the Madoff scandal, I read this book right after the one by Markopolos, No One Would Listen. You can tell immediately that this writer, actually a reporter, is far more professional. The writing itself is much better. She also presents a much more complete picture of what happened. Of course, Markopolos is narrating a different story: what it is like to be a frustrated whistleblower, and so perhaps the comparison is unfair.

Henrqiues warns that Madoff is obviously
Jun 16, 2011 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even if you've been following the Madoff story in the news and and think you know what happened, this is a book worth reading. Ms. Henriques presents the story in an interesting and accessible fashion.

I knew from newspaper articles that regulatory agencies had missed discovering this Ponzi scheme, but I did not realize that the investigators were such incompetent bunglers. Madoff was investigated several times without the regulators taking effective steps to verify that he actually had the mone
Florence Millo
Apr 13, 2012 Florence Millo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For years I have been fascinated by the Madoff ponzi scheme. Kind of like not being able to look away from the train wreck. I have read several books and many newspaper articles about it but this is by far the best.

Diana Henriques is a senior financial writer for the New York Times and has covered the story from the very beginning. What I appreciate most in this book is that it puts this the biggest and longest running Ponzi scheme in history in context of the times and gives insight as to how s
Aug 16, 2011 Judy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty horrifying to think how one man and his Ponzi scheme could fool so many people for so long. Investors big and small, regulators, auditors, friends, family, and coworkers. The amount of money involved was mind boggling. I have to give the author credit, if I can trust anyone after reading about Bernie's lies, for getting enough facts together to publish an account of such a long and complicated swindle. Quite an eyeopener on how trusting investors are and how no one takes the time to read ...more
I enjoyed this book - I learned a lot about Bernie Madoff. A lot of court cases were still pending when the author wrote this book, so I might have to google a few names. I picked it up at the library to read as a company I used to work for is mentioned in the book. We handled quite a few Madoff accounts. (Won the lawsuit, though, not guilty!)
Aug 03, 2013 Natalie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true financial thriller, it gave me goosebumps upon learning how much Madoff's victims had lost, the trust broken, the heartbreaks, the hopelessness and the suicides. This scandal and tragedy all started with one thing- greed. And it continues to plague the financial markets to this day.
Of course, I'm fascinated with the Madoff Ponzi scheme. Unbelievable how many people he fooled. Okay the imposter, "Clark Rockefeller" fooled a lot of people, but he did not steal from thousands of people. This book was more financial than biography - learned more about the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) - inept, but maybe the problem was being understaffed. Obviously, many people losing all of their money is sad, but sadder were the loss of lives - people committing suicide - even his ...more
Jun 18, 2013 Nancyjd rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very good, in depth analysis of the Madoff scandal, but it needs to be updated again. The most recent update was in the winter/spring of 2012. Frankly, it made me feel a little bit sympathetic towards Bernie Madoff and his wife Ruth, who do not seem as greedy as some of the hedge fund principals - the ones who ran the "feeder funds" that funneled money into Madoff's investment business and reaped billions of management fee "profits" from him. The author, a NYT reporter, interviewed Be ...more
Amy Wolf
Nov 08, 2013 Amy Wolf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a must-read for anyone interested in the darker machinations of business, particularly Wall Street. I had followed the Madoff story in the NY TIMES & THE NEW YORKER, but this book reveals the entire sordid enterprise, from how Madoff managed to fool sophisticated investors, hedge fund managers, movie stars, lawyers, and the SEC to the devastating effect on his own family.

My only caveat is that we are not showed too much of Madoff the Man, but rather Madoff the Swindler. Still, a riv
Jun 25, 2011 Rick rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
Solidly informative, but a little confusing with all the names. Then it got like weirdly, hugely philosophical for like 90 pages at the end, which I mean, I guess, yeah, there's a lot to be philosophical about Bernie Madoff, but I don't think you need to read a book about that. Incredibly well researched, though, and the first 80% of it is really really informative. I kind of wish she could add a chapter every month or quarter to keep up to date on Picard's collection progress (which is SUPER in ...more
Dec 24, 2015 Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I found this book fascinating ! The story of Bernie Madoff was played out in newspapers and on TV, and it had all the elements of a good yarn : a charismatic embezzler, luxury and excess, greed and lack of morals - and then the heartwrenching stories of people who had lost their life's savings. But there was so much more to it, especially if you wondered (as I did) : how could this have happened? Weren't there people supposed to check this type of stuff out? Financial analysts ? The SEC?

What th
Khairul H.
Bernie Madoff is such a sociopath that even author Diana Henriques freely admits that she doesn't know how much of the information he is telling her is true and how much is made up. She had to double check the info with independent research and interviews of other witnesses but there were still gaping holes left in the story, the biggest one being: WHY? Why did Madoff cheat his clients, some of whom were his family and close friends, of their money?
Mar 18, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A tiny part of me felt like giving this work five stars would somehow be a reward to Bernie Madoff for his greed, and that couldn't be right. But, it is pretty close to remarkable story, well told by Henriquez. This is the second treatment in my recent memory of the whole Madoff disaster - the first being a work from Harry Markopolis, who is referred to here a number of times. Madoff will likely go to his grave with a few parts of the crime undiscovered, and I think Henriquez is honest enough wi ...more
Exhaustively researched book about Bernie Madoff. It was mostly interesting, but a bit tedious at times.
It sounds like it came down to this:
- Madoff was too proud to admit that he lost money at some point, and covered it up with fake account statements and money borrowed from other accounts. It snowballed and ended huge.
- The investors who invested broke the common sense rules of not putting all their investment eggs in one manager's basket, and to notice that too good a thing (even returns w
Niki Ganong
Jul 11, 2011 Niki Ganong rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
NYTimes financial writer Henriques gives us the final word on Bernie Madoff, his house of cards, and how he got to be so evil. It's ridiculously well-researched and contains extensive interviews with Madoff himself.

In the end, we are no wiser as to Madoff's motivations, but the machinations are extensive. Recommended for those that were interested in the Madoff swindle to begin with.
Sep 25, 2013 Colleen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this book to be well researched and interesting to read. I was, however, horrified by the blind trust that so many people put in one man, and the investors and institutions that failed repeatedly to use common sense.
Kimmo Sinivuori
An entertaining if a bit hurried account of the Madoff scandal. The definitive book of Madoff and other "Masters of the Universe" waits to be written.
Jun 21, 2011 Caren rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
If only we knew for sure how much was true. Well written and thorough, but I'd hoped for more of the human/emotional stories that were part of the scandal.
Jan 31, 2016 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ponzi-scheme
Bernie Madoff did not think of himself as a crook. He was in the hole, and thought up until the near end that he could dig himself out of it. People trusted him, everyone trusted him much more than they should have. The returns he was giving, year in and year out, were of concern to mainly some the big institutions and wealthy individuals who invested with him, but most never did do the due diligence they should have done. After reading this book, I should look in detail at the 401k retirement i ...more
Apr 26, 2014 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not a big non-fiction fan & I really enjoyed this one. For me, similar to Secretariat and Unbroken.
Ricardo Santos García
Muy bueno!

No importa si sabes o no de inversiones o del mercado de valores, cuando se trata de inversiones, la gente normalmente confía en alguien (familiar, amigo, colega) que creemos que tiene la razón porque sabemos o pensamos que sabe, pero en el mundo de inversiones siempre hay riesgos por mas seguras que se vean las cosas.

Este libro nos enseña esto a través del monumental fraude de Bernie Madoff. Redactado de una manera clara y muy bien documentado te lleva por un recorrido desde principio
Aug 07, 2011 Jack rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good description of Madoff and his Ponzi scheme.

The first section starts a few days before his arrest and runs through the arrest.

The second section begins very early in his life and goes to the beginning of the first section.

The third section begins with the arrest and goes for about 3 years, mostly dealing with the various legal proceedings, mostly centering on the bankruptcy trustee and his attempts to get back as much money as possible for distribution to the victims. This was the most
Lexie Graham
Author Diana Henriques is a senior financial writer for the New York Times and deftly covers the ongoing saga of Bernie Madoff. The Ponzi scheme he was able to keep going over many years is astounding. He fooled savvy investors and fended off numerous half-hearted and inept SEC queries. I suspect that if the financical crash of 2008 hadn't happened he'd still be going strong. The early part of the book describes the still murky story of how and when he began stealing his clients' money. It's a b ...more
Rachelle Urist
Sep 26, 2012 Rachelle Urist rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exquisite piece of investigative journalism, laced with financial savvy, psychological acuity and philosophical depth. While I couldn't follow all the ins and outs of financial trading, I could see quite clearly the author's mastery of this world. She's a meticulous guide through the blizzard of lies, subpeonas,legal proceedings, financial investigations - by both the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC) - and through endless intervi ...more
Jun 24, 2011 Book rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust

"The Wizard of Lies" is the fascinating story of Bernie Madoff and his infamous $65 billion Ponzi scheme. Acclaimed author Diana B. Henriques masterfully narrates one of the most absorbing accounts of fraud in the history of our country. This engrossing 448-page book is composed of the following sixteen chapters: 1. An Earthquake on Wall Street, 2. Becoming Bernie, 3. The Hunger for Yield, 4. The Big Four, 5. The Cash Spigot, 6. What They
Laura Lorek
Aug 15, 2011 Laura Lorek rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When something sounds too good to be true, it is.
That’s the age old saying when it comes to fraud. And yet people still don’t believe it.
That’s evident in Diana B. Henriques’ book “The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust,” a masterfully told tale of greed and deceit.
New York Times Senior Financial Writer Henriques details how Madoff pulled off the largest Ponzi scheme ever with paper losses of $65 billion and cash losses of $20 billion.
Henriques’ true-life financial thriller def
LA Carlson
Sep 05, 2011 LA Carlson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to LA by: read a review
Shelves: memoir
Bernie Madoff could have made a comfortable living working as a broker on wall street. He certainly had the knowledge and initiative. As a financial writer for the NY Times Diana Henriques begins this tale at the end at a North Carolina jailhouse where Madoff will spend the rest of his life under lock and key. It then explains to the lay reader how Madoff began his career, his associates-often friends who contributed to his early impressions. Surprisingly, his father-in-law is one of the people. ...more
Sep 28, 2011 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
There's some interest value in the underlying story of course, and it is somewhat interesting for a while to contemplate how many savvy, competent people were taken in by what seems in retrospect an obviously untrustworthy scam. I like to think that even if my best lifelong friends were involved I would still want some basic legal assurances, contracts, etc. before handing over all my money, but clearly Madoff had a lot of skill in duplicity.

Beyond the obvious, and maybe some additional understa
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Diana B. Henriques is the author of The White Sharks of Wall Street and Fidelitys World. She is a senior financial writer for The New York Times, having joined the Times staff in 1989. A Polk Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist, she has won several awards for her work on the Timess coverage of the Madoff scandal and was part of the team recognized as a Pulitzer finalist for its coverage of th ...more
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