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Too Good to Be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff
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Too Good to Be True: The Rise and Fall of Bernie Madoff

3.37  ·  Rating Details ·  314 Ratings  ·  43 Reviews

The untold story of the Madoff scandal, by one of the first journalists to question his investment practices
Despite all the headlines about Bernard Madoff, he is still shrouded in mystery. How did he fool so many smart investors for so long? Who among his family and employees knew the truth?
The person best qualified to answer these questions is Erin Arvedlund. In earl
ebook, 336 pages
Published August 1st 2009 by Portfolio
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Oct 07, 2014 Cheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
All the facts, but presented like a university lecturer that you'd fall asleep to, which I did at times, because my version is an audio book. Too bad, because the story, as we all know, is astounding - how Bernie managed to rip off seasoned financial geniuses and well-informed customers to the tune of $60 billion. That's billion with a B. I'm waiting for the Walter Isaacson version. Now there's someone who can make science or technology accessible to all. (BTW I earned a B. Commerce and still ha ...more
Nov 16, 2009 Barb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: high finance geeks
Recommended to Barb by: Jeanne
Although a fascinating topic, the author presented the material in a very disjointed and scattered manner with a tremendous amount of repetition. In some instancs I found myself going back a page or two thinking I was rereading pages only to find material being repeated that very closely resembled what I had just read.

This author wrote a very important article in Barron's regarding the Madoff case. I can only say that each chapter in the book feels like a totally separate article written as a c
Dec 07, 2011 TC rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an encyclopedic volume that fills in a nice hole of the Madoff literature: instead of being all about him and his sociopathic abilities, as many books on the case are, it instead talks at great, documented length about the numerous "enablers" who helped funnel all that money to him in the first place. There is a lot of detailed information here for anyone wondering, "who were these rubes that took millions of dollars in fees from Madoff while mindlessly funneling him other people's money ...more
Dec 28, 2009 Samantha rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People interested in current events
Shelves: true-crime, business
It's been a year since Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme was exposed, revealing that for years, Madoff had gotten away with scamming thousands of people around the world out of billions of dollars.

I had never really been interested in Madoff before, but I recently saw a documentary about the scandal which piqued my interest and out of the three books about Madoff at my local bookstore, I chose this one to read.

The book spans Madoff's entire life, from his childhood to his arrest on December 11, 2008.
Pearce Handrick
This was Arvedlund's first book and it does have many problems that one would expect from a new author. Her editors did a very shoddy job of helping her tighten it up. Leaving aside the subject matter, the chapters feel unguided, there are huge chunks of repeated material that leave one feeling a sense of deja vu, and she often neglects to define a word or acronym in an early chapter and then will do so in a later chapter, which makes for distracting and difficult reading.
While no one will accu
Jack Lehnen
I sort of got into the Madoff thing, it appeared there were plenty of books on the shelf after the incident . Everybody was a Bernie expert I guess .

This book was very detailed. Probably more than anybody but a Wall Street analyist cares to read about . If you work on wall street or are an investment broker your name is probably in here . She goes on and on with name after name and every backstory that nobody really cares about unless you know the people .

She could have cut this book in more th
Sep 07, 2009 Lobstergirl rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: New York Times
Shelves: business-finance
Much remains to be known and revealed about Madoff's giant Ponzi scam, but this book is a very good start. Arvedlund wrote an article for Barron's in 2001 wondering about Madoff's success but didn't follow up in the intervening years. Using news reports, court filings, Congressional testimony, and interviews with people who either knew or observed Madoff (but none of the true insiders), she compiles a fascinating narrative of Madoff's businesses - one legitimate, the other a phony "hedge fund," ...more
It's not easy to get in with the rich but once you do, and you have their trust, you can do practically whatever you want. His clients ran the gamut from mega-rich (who most likely knew better) to little people (who wouldn't even know what questions to ask).

The crazy thing is Madoff was plenty talented and successful in his legit business. He was ahead of the game on computer trading and fast automation which is the way it's all done now.

And, some of these rich guys were cheating in ways I don't
Sep 23, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was interesting and a real eye opener to how intelligent people can get roped into a Ponzi scheme. It is interesting the secrecy around Madoff's illegal business and the phony financial statements he producted for his investors to help make it survive. It was just when stocks were going down and everyone wanted their money that his world came tumbling down. I also learned about the feeder funds whom sought out clients for Bernie. Also, it was interesting that many of the investors poss ...more
Tod Long
This is a book I read before. At the time I found it a difficult read. Re-reading it now, I understood it much better. Many reviewers say the book, unlike a lot of nonfiction today, did not read like a novel, well it's not a novel, it's nonfiction account of the biggest financial fraud in US history. Also, many people commented on the author's repeating herself throughout. I found this to be true, but, I found it helpful. This scam involved a lot of players, hedge funds, institutions and billion ...more
George Roper
Much preferred the last half of the book. The first half was repetitive which left me with the sense that the book was rushed to print back in 2009 just after Madoff was sentenced.

More insights into the personal life of the young Bernie would have been nice to help the reader understand the key events and persons which shaped his character. Those gaps in the book caused it to be less of a compelling read than it could have otherwise been. Still I commend the author for capturing in some detail t
Rosemary Ellis
Jun 23, 2015 Rosemary Ellis rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
A very, very detailed telling of Bernie Madoff's story of the greatest Ponzi scheme ever and of everyone involved. The book is very long, very involved, very technical, and often repetitious. In fact, the book was so repetitious, that I kept checking to see if my audio book had skipped back. Perhaps if you're a real finance geek, you might enjoy getting as deep into the weeds as the author takes you, but I found it hard to follow and understand. Even the background stories on minor characters se ...more
I tried to read this under it's other title "Madoff: The Man Who Stole $65 Billion". I was confused about whether they were two different books, but Boffins web site says
'First published in the USA under the title, "Too Good To Be True" '
I couldn't get much past the first chapter, but it's likely that this is due to my failings rather than the book's.
So, I'm not going to give this my rating (which would be 2 star).
Because Bernie didn't testiify in court, I think it's hard to find out the full s
David R.
Arevedlund somewhat diminishes the topic with a fairly muddled narrative. It isn't exactly chronological, and the most interesting stuff is dealt with early on. The remainder is an eye glazing litany of all of the various cash intakes Madoff made mostly in the last several years. Nor is there adequate explanation of some of the market tricks Madoff employed in bilking his "clients." A cleaner treatment would have focused on what he did, how he was exposed, and how "clients" let Madoff get away w ...more
The subject matter was interesting and it was well-researched, but the material was not well-organized. I believe the book was adapted from a series of articles that the author wrote and the result was at times disjointed and repetitive. In a rush to get the book published while Madoff was still topical, the editing appears to have been minimal. Still, the story was interesting, just not told as interestingly as it could have been.
Achtung Englander
Apr 21, 2016 Achtung Englander rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned, business
This is a tough book to recommend. Erin Arvedlund delivery is a matter of fact and a tad bland. It is awash with names, events and circumstances that can quickly lose the reader. In a space of 50 pages at least three dozen names of people and companies get thrown at you which it is not very interesting as it is all back story and does not get to the meat of the corruption.

I am sure there are better books out there on Madoff.

Abandoned by page 70
Apr 25, 2010 Cathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing how Madoff was able to pull of his Ponzi scheme and the number of people of only saw what they wanted to see: a financial genius. Madoff could possibly have continued indefinitely even the economy hadn't soured. By appealing to greed, ego (the exclusivity of his clients) and providing unnatural returns he prevailed.
Jul 12, 2015 Rho rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Very repetitive with poor editing and chaotic organization. It would have been easier to follow if done in a chronological order. I did learn a lot about the mechanics of the con but I also felt that the people who were conned did not do due diligence. Isn't it prudent not to put all your money in one place?
Sep 25, 2010 Brooke rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book was very hard for me to get through. After getting nearly half way through, I set it aside for about six months. There is just a lot of technical detail - not hard to understand, just very dry - that made it a chore to get through the book.

That being said, this is a very in depth look at the Bernie Madoff scam and makes it clear why a fraud of such magnitude was able to occur.
Mar 09, 2010 Sheryl rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Audio. Such a remarkably interesting book. It really gets you mad to see what one person can do to hurt so many other.

I did feel that the book could have used more editing. There was a lot of very repetitive passages. The some of the details I thought may have been better in footnotes to improve the flow of the story and make the book more readable.
Nov 13, 2015 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story and an excellent job by the author. Difficult story to follow what with the large number of hedge funds and hedge fund managers and employees funneling funds to Madoff. Hard to believe this Ponzi scheme went on as long as it did.
May 06, 2014 Kestrawn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
For me, this was overly technical regarding Wall Street, investing, and, what the writer repeats over and over, "funds of funds." On the other hand, others who understand how Wall Street works and want to know EXACTLY what Madoff did, with all the details, might find this interesting.
Aug 11, 2013 3asheena rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The summary was much more interesting than the book. My bad. Business does not intrigue me that's why this book did not grab my attention. I could not finish it, but maybe someday I might change my mind, who knows.
Krys Gut
Sep 03, 2011 Krys Gut rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I agree with readers the author was repetitive and included unnecessary information, but her accounting of the facts appeared well researched. It would have read better if we had more insight into Madoff's head, but understandably this was not available.
Aug 21, 2015 Roxanne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book explains how Bernie Madoff ripped off investers in his Ponzi scheme. This man had no regard for doing this also and a lot of people around him knew what he was doing and they helped him. He ruined his family and his investors were never fully paid back.
Feb 25, 2016 Sabra rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Needed some more editing, there was a lot of repetition which slowed down a really fascinating story
May 23, 2015 Jacinda rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I thought this book was very informative, but lacked structure. The storyline falls off at points and made me feel that I missed something on the pages prior.
Feb 17, 2016 Lynda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good discussion of the ponzi scheme that shook the world of finance. Much more detail and explanation financial dealings.
I read this because I wanted to understand what happened with Bernie Madoff and how he could have fooled so many people for so long.
May 31, 2013 Tom rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is very repetitive and it doesn't really answer any of your questions, like how he pulled it off. It seems like very well-researched speculation.
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