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Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America: From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff [Anglais] [Broché]

James B. Stewart

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Description de l'ouvrage

27 mars 2012

Bestselling author James B. Stewart investigates our era's most high-profile perjurers, revealing the alarming extent of this national epidemic.

America faces a crisis: an explosion of perjury and false statements occurring at the highest levels of business, politics, sports, and culture. In Tangled Webs, Pulitzer Prize-winning author James B. Stewart applies his investigative reporting and storytelling skills to four dramatic cases, all involving people at the top of their fields: Martha Stewart, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, Barry Bonds, and notorious financier Bernard Madoff. Stewart draws on extensive interviews with participants-many speaking here for the first time- and previously undisclosed documents to show how such successful role models found themselves accused of criminal deception.

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Biographie de l'auteur

James B. Stewart is the author of Heart of a Soldier, the bestsellers Blind Eye and Blood Sport, and the blockbuster Den of Thieves. A former Page One editor at The Wall Street Journal, he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his reporting on the stock market crash and insider trading.

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Amazon.com: 4.0 étoiles sur 5  36 commentaires
97 internautes sur 103 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A first-rate story teller takes on the lying addiction of the rich and famous 19 avril 2011
Par F. Hayes-Roth - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
Lying seems epidemic in American society. Stewart focuses his superb writing skills on the general problem of perjury and lying under oath by highlighting the cases of four celebrated liars: Martha Stewart (no apparent relation to the author), Scooter Libby, Barry Bonds, and Bernie Madoff. For each of these, he asks the same question: "Why would people with so much to lose put so much at risk by lying under oath?" Ultimately, the answer becomes obvious: "They thought they could get away with it."

Stewart uses extensive sources for his own narration. Chief among these are notes from investigations, court proceedings, and personal interviews. Although the book is non-fiction, it's a page-turner, because the machinations of the perpetrators and their victims are suspenseful, ensnaring, and powerfully emotional. Each of the perpetrators would ultimately explain their deceits as motivated by "loyalty," but this seems mostly self-serving and devious. Whatever loyalty they had in mind was to themselves, as all were readily prepared to let underlings and associates take hard falls to cushion their own. In the end, most of the celebrity liars recovered reasonably, with the exception of Madoff who will be in prison for a long time and has lost the love of his family and seen one of his sons commit suicide pursuant to the shame he showered on them.

These continuing losses of Madoff as well as those of Bonds, recently convicted of obstruction of justice, aren't covered in the book which was written in 2010 although published in 2011.

This book has several strengths, and perhaps just one weakness. The strengths are the readable and interesting writing, about larger-than-life "heroes" turned "villains." As he points out, these villains "evidently expect to be admired for this behavior." Meticulously researched and artfully written, the book provides considerable details, easily read and enjoyed. It also addresses a central problem "lying under oath [that] undermines civilization itself."

If the book has a weakness, it would be its failure to look at the bigger picture in order to frame the problem more usefully, to bring it perhaps closer to an appropriate remedy. The bigger problem, in my opinion, is that lying is rampant throughout all of society, not just at the level of criminal investigations and judicial proceedings. While it's true that celebrities routinely lie to protect their wealth and status, the problem seems far more extensive. We have in the US a system rigged for the rich and powerful, whether individuals or corporations, that rewards lying as "business as usual." Why is that? Two reasons, primarily: (1) lying pays and (2) liars are not punished. That might sound hard to believe, if you've not actually investigated it. However, there are few laws against lying, they are usually not enforced, and in many cases--such as politics--the Supreme Court protects liars. The Court has ruled that politicians can routinely lie and broadcasters must be willing (if they are not already eager) to sell to the liars and their campaign organizations advertising time to carry those lies to as many people as they can possibly infect.

So, when Stewart suggests that fixing this problem "requires a capacity for moral outrage," he's right, but as a remedy that prescription falls far short. To bring the epidemic under control, we are going to need to invent and employ new solutions. For example, Snopes on the Web publicizes some lies ("urban myths") and many people check Snopes before they pass lies along. PolitiFact and FactCheck, two other Web sites, investigate political lies and policy lies. New products such as Wolfram Alpha, StateOfTheUSA, and numerous regional indicators projects aim to provide curated and reliable answers to important questions. Wikipedia enables many people to edit and polish statements, hopefully bringing them rapidly to a state of truth. A new organization, TruthSeal.org, offers means for people and organizations to affix seals of truth to their vetted claims and to offer bounties for people to present falsifying evidence. In these and other ways, we might create stronger incentives for truth telling and stimulate social networks of people to ferret out lies in the public information commons. By changing the incentives, rewarding truth tellers and punishing liars, we could hope to begin to change the course of this rampant social disease.

Without some change to the rules of the game, we should continue to expect the same outcomes, over and over.

In fairness to Stewart, he wanted to tell a compelling story and get people thinking seriously about how our society encourages obviously sociopathic behavior. He does that extremely well. Another book will be required to look at the bigger, more general problem, consider the situation from a problem-solving point of view, and lay out the best courses of action for implementing remedies. Readers who might be interested in my own study of that problem and proposed recovery plan should consider TRUTHINESS FEVER: How Lies and Propaganda are Poisoning Us and a Ten-Step Program for Recovery.
37 internautes sur 38 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 The perjury epidemic 20 avril 2011
Par G. Ware Cornell Jr. - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Format Kindle|Achat vérifié
"If it wasn't for perjury I'd be out of business."

That always gets some laughs when I say it to clients and to witnesses I am preparing for testimony. I am not encouraging them to lie under oath; quite the opposite. Instead I am telling them a fact of courtroom life-"there are going to be lies told, and you had better be prepared for them." I explain that the fact that people on the other side may lie, it does not allow lies on our side. My job, as a lawyer, is to ferret out those lies and expose them. Once a witness is revealed as a liar on a subject, the witnesses credibility on every subject is shot.

James Stewart, as a journalist and as a lawyer, has seen this epidemic grow. When the rich and powerful like Bill Clinton, Barry Bonds, Bernie Madoff think nothing of rising their right hands, swearing to tell the truth, and lying through their teeth, something has gone terribly wrong. But although James Stewart's excellent book focuses on the lies of the power elite, the truth is that perjury is probably the single-most common crime in America today. And as Stewart notes, its not just the witnesses, lawyers are often the enablers, the messengers of deceit, spreading the word, "we need you to say X". And when X is really Y, that is perjury.

So where does it stop? Hopefully the end begins now. Our nation cannot endure long if truth is simply a commodity, rather than a sacred flame that lights a democratic ideal.

And in spite of the participation of some lawyers in this culture of deception, many of my colleagues before the bar agree with me. When I tell my joke, most don't crack a smile.

Read this book and join the revolution.
22 internautes sur 24 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Devastating Portrait of Lying in America 19 avril 2011
Par Julie Jordan - Publié sur Amazon.com
Another masterful work from James B. Stewart. In this book, he touches on themes that everyone is bound to find compelling: mainstream celebrity (Martha Stewart), politics (Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney's former chief of staff), sports (Barry Bonds) and finance (the infamous Bernie Madoff). Unlike many other writers, though, Stewart looks deeply into his subjects and the available data on them, including fascinating court and SEC transcripts that no else bothered with, and that reveal essential details about his subjects. At the same time, he manages to keep the focus on the human condition, including the innocent and not-so-innocent bystanders who were affected and sometimes ruined by the colossal, shameless lies that these "role models" told in official testimony. Stewart makes a strong case for the appearance of a serious fissure in the the legal system that this country depends on for legitimacy, and tells four incredible stories in doing so. Read, learn and be educated and entertained at the same time ...
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Master Untangler 14 mai 2011
Par Middle-aged Professor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Relié|Achat vérifié
No one is better than James Stewart as a financial feature reporter. He gets to the bottom of a complex series of events and explains them with unsurpassed clarity and objectivity. If you are interested in the subject he's describing, there is no better source for learning about it. And those skills are on display in the four lying-related scandals he discusses here: Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, Barry Bonds (and other BALCO defendants) and Bernie Madoff. In each story, Stewart's focus is on the lies the subject told to official investigators, and since such lying is much closer to the heart of the Stewart and Libby scandals than to the Bonds and Madoff events (for the latter two, official lies were more of an interesting sidelight than the core of what will put them in the history books), I found those portions of the book the most interesting and enlightening. Indeed, for Martha Stewart and Scooter Libbey, Tangled Webs should stand as the definitive treatment. Read this, and you'll "get it."

In opening and concluding sections, the author ties the four stories together by shucking his customary objectivity for a jeremiade against perjury and official lying. He has passionate feelings on the subject that no doubt were part of the source of his energy that allowed him to so meticulously record these events. While I am more than sympathetic to his views on this point---in my case he is preaching to the choir---I did not find those parts of the book particularly persuasive; they are not the reason to buy it. This may be in part because of the very excellence---the irrefutable, closely documented objectivity---of the main body of the book. This is one book where reading just the first and last chapters is the exact opposite of what you should do.
7 internautes sur 9 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 This Interesting Book Changed My Mind 30 avril 2011
Par Book Fanatic - Publié sur Amazon.com
Tangled Webs by James Stewart tells the stories of four famous cases; Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, Barry Bonds, and Bernie Madoff. Before reading the book I was somewhat sympathetic to all the individuals involved except Bernie Madoff. I felt they had probably been over prosecuted on technicalities of obstructing the investigation and lying when prosecutors were unable to make a case on the crime that initiated the investigations in the first place. Having finished this book I have completely changed my mind.

Stewart very persuasively makes the case that these people were convicted of serious crimes and they were not victims of over zealous prosecutors trying to make a name for themselves. He does an excellent job of explaining why these people are not innocent and not victims of anything but their own behavior. Stewart, Libby, and Bonds would have probably never been charged with anything if they had simply told the truth.

The section on Bonds strayed significantly into other athletes, including extensive discussion of Olympic star Marion Jones. I left this book thoroughly disgusted by the behavior of these athletes and their insistence to this day that they thought they were taking "supplements". Even the judge who sentenced Jones all but accused her of further perjury in her admission of guilt on other issues. Despite the sworn testimony of multiple witnesses to her injecting herself with steroids, she still publicly insists she thought they were just some kind of supplement.

This is a descriptive book in that the author tells these stories in a fascinating way. He provides many details from court records and liberally sprinkles the book with his editorial opinion on what is wrong with all of it. Other than "tell the truth" there isn't much prescriptive advice to be found here. I think that is OK because the book succeeds on its descriptive narrative.

I thought the Madoff section was fairly weak in regards to the subject of the book. In contrast to the others, Madoff's crime was his stealing billions of dollars from investors and while his lies to the SEC were interesting, they seemed to be very minor compared to his real crime. This section was more valuable for the how well it highlighted the incompetence of the SEC in failing to discover the crime right in front of them.

This book informed me and changed my mind and that is part of my criteria for a good book. In addition the reading is interesting and compelling. Recommended.
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