Law Religion Culture Review

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

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Book Review: Circle of Greed: The Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Lawyer Who Brought Corporate America to Its Knees (2010).

A college roommate implored me to read Tolstoy's War and Peace.

His persuasive pitch was that the book covered every aspect of the human experience.

I would challenge him by asking, "What about [this]?" He'd reply, "It's in there." I'd try again, "What about [that]?" He'd say, "It's in there."

I've been heartily recommending Circle of Greed by Patrick Dillon and Carl M. Cannon to my law students and fellow lawyers with a similar pitch: Circle of Greed covers the entire range of experience for litigation lawyers, ably showing how cases are prepared, litigated and tried. In so doing, Pulitzer Prize winning writers Cannon and Dillon have created a masterpiece much like Tolstoy. I can't say much more than to declare this is the best book I've read this year, and I doubt it will be topped in 2010.

The book reaches its dramatic apogee in and around chapter 22 cleverly entitled, "The Hunters and the Hunted." In this duality, the book reports on class action securities lawyer William Lerach's simultaneous climb to pinnacle of his civil law niche in pursuit of Enron, while descending to the nadir of the criminal law as the target of the federal investigation that ultimately led to his felony conviction and substantial prison time.

Since Lerach cooperated with the writers, the book provides many fascinating details that an "unauthorized" book would not. While trying to be fair, the book exposes both the laudable and the lamentable. Nevertheless, in the final analysis, Lerach does emerge rather well from the narrative, vindicating his decision to participate in the book.

The ultimate beneficiary, however, is the reader. Circle of Greed garners my top recommendation.

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