Also of interest... in scams and swindles
by Edward J. Balleisen (Princeton, $35)
Since the very birth of our nation, “Americans have succumbed to the siren song of lying promoters,” said Glenn Altschuler in the Tulsa World. In this lively history of business chicanery and the efforts to contain it, Edward Balleisen argues that business has been shaped from the start by regulation, and that fraud flourishes every time the government backs off. P.T. Barnum, Charles Ponzi, and Bernie Madoff all make appearances, and even the Better Business Bureau comes out looking corrupt.
by Tressie McMillan Cottom (New Press, $27)
Other authors have written about the growth of for-profit colleges, but Tressie McMillan Cottom has produced “the best book yet” about how the industry impacts students’ lives, said Dana Goldstein in The New York Times. Cottom, a sociologist, once worked as a recruiter for two for-profit colleges, and “some of the most disturbing parts of Lower Ed” detail how she was taught to lure in prospective enrollees with false promises and persuade them to take on unmanageable debt.
by Sheelah Kolhatkar (Random House, $28)
Few targets of recent fraud probes have loomed as large as hedge fund manager Steven Cohen, said Tom Buerkle in Reuters. In her “riveting” account of a decade-long chase mounted by federal prosecutors, The New Yorker’s Sheelah Kolhatkar “finds plenty fresh to say” about how Cohen made his billions and escaped prosecution for insider trading even as underlings fell. She clearly considers Cohen a rule-breaker, yet as the book ends, he’s still trading, and “appears as determined as ever to win.”
by Cara Hoffman (Simon & Schuster, $26)
Novelist Cara Hoffman “writes like a dream—a disturbing, emotionally charged dream,” said Tom Nolan in The Wall Street Journal. In her latest, an American and two young Brits make a living in 1980s Athens by abetting tourist scams—until one of the swindlers ups the stakes and several people wind up dead. Revenge seekers soon emerge, and “what happens to all these players is revealed in a kaleidoscope of flashbacks and flash-forwards that the author manipulates for maximum suspense.” ■