September 2000


By Roger Lowenstein
Review by
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Briefly noted In The Great American Tax Dodge (Little, Brown, $22.95, ISBN 0316811351), Time Inc. senior writers Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele take on the inequities and iniquities of the American tax system. In the tradition of firebrand financial populism exemplified by William Greider’s Who Will Tell the People?, they expose the loopholes that allow thousands of people with six-figure incomes to pay no income tax at all, as well as the fact that millions don’t even file returns.

When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management (Random House, $26.95, ISBN 037550317X), by Roger Lowenstein, narrates the inside-the-boardroom drama of the 1998 collapse of a hedge fund whose failure threatened to plunge the world’s financial system into chaos. Lowenstein not only explains the excruciatingly complex dealings of the fund in clear layman’s prose, he also spins a gripping and minutely detailed tale of the torturous negotiations among Wall Street titans and the Federal Reserve that led to a bailout involving $3.6 billion in private funding.

Howard Kurtz, dean of U.S. press critics, unmasks Wall Street’s hype machine in The Fortune Tellers: Inside Wall Street’s Fame of Money, Media, and Manipulation (Free Press, $26, ISBN 0684868792). The role of financial media outlets like CNBC in whipping up the stock-trading frenzies of recent years was ripe for scrutiny, and Kurtz lays bare the log-rolling dynamics of a new media industry that needs overblown stock stories as badly as stock promoters do.

Journalist and entrepreneur E. Thomas Wood is working with author John Egerton on a book about Nashville.

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