One of the things I love most about Pundit Review Radio is getting to read a wide variety of books and then having the opportunity to have extended discussions with the authors. It really is an honor and a thrill. I know I enjoy these segments because I have read every page of all of these books. I wouldn’t have done that or invited the authors on if I wasn’t passionate about their work. I think the authors enjoy these because they are not cookie cutter interviews. We have plenty of time to explore all aspects of these books.

We are now in full blown holiday shopping season. Throughout the coming days, I’ll feature my favorite books of 2011, broken down by categories such as Politics, History, and in this case, the Financial Crisis that dominated much of 2011. In no particular order…


Exile on Wall Street: One Analyst’s Fight to Save the Big Banks from Themselves
This book is an absolute must read. It details the conflicts, crony capitalism and greed that helped bring us to the edge of chaos. Mike provides a look behind the curtain, how companies co-opt analysts, curry favor and manipulate their ratings. He tells of his experience on the Street, how he has struggled to do his job, simply because he has always been about getting at the truth about the companies he covers, good, bad or ugly.

At a time when there are so few people to admire in public life, especially as it relates to Wall Street, Mike Mayo is the exception. A man of great integrity, character and insight. I was deeply honored that he spent the full hour with us. This is one of my favorite interviews in six plus years of doing this show.


NY Times’ Diana Henriques on The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the death of trust
Twenty-two years at the New York Times, currently senior financial writer, winner of a Polk Award, Pulitzer Prize finalist for her coverage of the 2008 financial crisis, it was an honor to welcome Diana Henriques to Pundit Review Radio.

So much has been said and written about Bernie Madoff and his Ponzi scheme. Incredibly, there is much about the story that people do not know, and in many cases, what people do know is flat out wrong. Ms. Henriques was the first journalist to interview Madoff in prison, and he sent her dozens of follow-up emails and letters. Few people know his story better. Everything is in this book, from the childhood and the lessons learned, to his early business days to the Ponzi scheme itself. Of course, the story is filled with gut wrenching human drama, the damage Madoff inflicted upon everyone around him, starting with his family. After reading the book, I am convinced that Madoff’s wife and sons did not know about his Ponzi scheme. It was fascinating to hear her describe meeting Madoff in prison a couple of months after his oldest son Mark had committed suicide. He seemed like a shattered man and it was hard to think anything other than “good”! That is just one of many moments of clarity that the book provides. It also goes to great detail to explain how he was able to get away with it for so long, and how many opportunities regulators had to stop him. The failure of government at all levels is another central character in this story. Not only did they miss numerous chances to identify the fraud, they asked all the wrong questions after the fact. Shocker. This is a great book.


Ron Suskind on Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the education of a President
Pulitzer Prize winnner Ron Suskind has written a great book that gives an inside look at the first year of the Obama administration. Unprepared for office and unaware about the application of power, our young president has been run over by his far more seasoned staff. Who could have seen that coming? Certainly not the Beltway Intellegensia, who were in full swoon over Obama. Some of us saw this coming. Really, given his total lack of experience managing ANYTHING, how could it have turned out any different? This book is the ideal companion to the Occupy movement as it explains in great detail the Wall Street crisis and the decisions made, and not made, by Obama. Let’s just say, when it came to changing Wall Street culture, he once again voted present.

Don Luskin was one of the first guests I ever invited on Pundit Review Radio starting in 2004. He’s been on many times and has been a great friend of the show. He’s written a 3-for-1 book. Part bio on Ayn Rand and her philosophy, part casting call for the real-world version of Atlas Shrugged, complete with heroes and villains (guess which one Barney Frank is? See 26:00), and part business management book that examines what makes leaders business leaders like Cypress Semiconductor CEO TJ Rogers the modern day disciples of Ayn Rand.

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On Boston’s Talk Station WRKO since 2005, Pundit Review Radio is where the old media meets the new. Each week we give voice to the work of the most influential leaders in the new media/citizen journalist revolution. Called “groundbreaking” by Talkers Magazine, this unique show brings the best of the blogs to the radio every Sunday evening from 6-9pm on AM680 WRKO, Boston’s Talk Station.