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Enron Ascending: The Forgotten Years, 1984-1996



Enron Ascending: The Forgotten Years, 1984-1996

Robert L. Bradley Jr.

ISBN: 978-1-118-54957-5 September 2018 816 Pages


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.

"Robert L. Bradley's *Enron Ascending* is one of the most remarkable contributions to business history in years. This is the inside history of the company by a man who was there. Anyone interested in American capitalism should read this book." Tyler Cowen

"There is only one reason to read another book on Enron: the author offers a more complete and authoritative account of the run-up to Enron’s collapse than that offered by others, and in doing so invites a deeper consideration of the meaning of the Enron story." Malcolm Salter