Law Religion Culture Review

Exploring the intersections of law, religion and culture. Copyright by Richard J. Radcliffe. All rights reserved.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Book Review: Den of Thieves.

Here's another James B. Stewart tome from yesteryear with implications for today's Presidential campaign.

In Den of Thieves, Stewart explored the insider trading scandals of the late 1980s.

Guess which candidate enters this story.....Rudy Guiliani.

At the time, Guiliani served as associate attorney general. He prosecuted with the US Department of Justice in Manhattan. He "brought to the office what many perceived as a Catholic, even Jesuitical view of the world, one marked by clear divisions between right and wrong, friend and enemy. He seemed to equate crime with sin, punishment with penance, cooperation with repentance." (p. 248.)

Another feature of Guiliani: fearlessness. "'I'm not in this job to do the safe thing,' he said in 1986. 'If you never try to accomplish anything, you never fail. I'd rather fail.'" (p. 248.)

The book explored Guiliani's legal strategies, especially how he used plea deals to "squeeze" them into testifying against other, and usually, "higher" targets. No doubt Guiliani played hardball, and not just with those he was prosecuting.

Den of Thieves delved into greed, its causes and effects. It showed how white-collar criminals lived very large, and then were cut down by the legal system and otherwise. Moreover, it analyzed the life-changing psychological ramifications of such a precipitous fall.

For example, "Now that it had come to this, Siegel was amazed at how little he cared about the money. When he'd been earning a six-figure income, money had seemed important--but it had never been enough to confer the elusive sense of security he craved. Now he was ruined no matter how much money he had. So what did it matter if he had none at all?" (p. 305.)

Ordering the James B. Stewart "trilogy" reviewed here, I recommend DisneyWar, then Den of Thieves and finally Blood Sport.