A great fall cannot be understood apart from the rise that preceded it. Enron Ascending is the only book to date that examines in detail the first two-thirds of that iconic energy company's life. Thus, it is the only book to date that exposes the deepest causes of Enron's stunning collapse. Nobel economist Paul Krugman predicted that history would look upon Enron's plummet as a greater turning point than the fall of the Twin Towers. Enron Ascending explains the shock of the company's fall by recalling the astounding achievements of Enron's birth, childhood, adolescence, and early maturity. It sets forth the once-celebrated but now-forgotten industry and innovation that caused the company and its reputation to soar stratospherically. At the same time, always conscious of the company's fate, the book highlights throughout the developing habits of thought and behavior that later evolved into self-destructive acts of desperation and deceit. Written fifteen years after the firm's demise, Enron Ascending offers the long perspective of a uniquely positioned insider, Robert L. Bradley, Jr., the company's director of public-policy analysis and Chairman Ken Lay's personal speechwriter. The book also offers a library of previously unavailable information, drawn from Bradley's innumerable corporate documents and unrepeatable interviews, which he collected in his capacity as the company's prospective historian. Most important, however, Enron Ascending offers an antidote to the unending stories, studies, and books about Enron that are presented as just-the-facts but are in reality shaped decisively by the worldview of their authors. Bradley shows, beyond dispute, that the early habits which set precedents for Enron's history-making demise were directly contrary to the free-market behaviors and capitalist attitudes generally blamed for Enron's fall.
The oil industry in the United States has been the subject of innumerable histories. But books on the development of the natural gas industry and the electricity industry in the U.S. are scarce. Edison to Enron is a readable flowing history of two of America's largest and most colorful industries. It begins with the story of Samuel Insull, a poor boy from England, who started his career as Thomas Edison's right-hand man, then went on his own and became one of America's top industrialists. But when Insull's General Electric's energy empire collapsed during the Great Depression, the hitherto Great Man was denounced and prosecuted and died a pauper. Against that backdrop, the book introduces Ken Lay, a poor boy from Missouri who began his career as an aide to the head of Humble oil, now part of Exxon Mobil. Lay went on to become a Washington bureaucrat and energy regulator and then became the wunderkind of the natural gas industry in the 1980s with Enron. To connect the lives of these two energy giants, Edison to Enron takes the reader through the flamboyant history of the American energy industry, from Texas wildcatters to the great pipeline builders to the Washington wheeler-dealers. From the Reviews... "This scholarly work fills in much missing history about two of America's most important industries, electricity and natural gas."
-Joseph A. Pratt, NEH-Cullen Professor of History and Business, University of Houston "... a remarkable book on the political inner workings of the U.S. energy industry."
-Robert Peltier, PE, Editor-in-Chief, POWER Magazine "This is a powerful story, brilliantly told."
-Forrest McDonald, Historian