Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Extraordinary Circumstances by Cynthia Cooper

Admission of Partiality: I have a professional connection to this book; it's being published by John Wiley (my employer), and I'm the Marketing Manager for the line in which it is published. So obviously I'd be expected to say nice things about it in public.

But it's even better than I expected; I read nearly a hundred pages Saturday afternoon standing up in a bowling alley during a kid's birthday party. (My younger son, age 7, was in attendance.) A book that can hold a reader's attention like that is something to be prized.

Cooper was the whistleblower at WorldCom in 2002; she was a Vice President and head of the Internal Audit department there, and had come across some discrepancies in the numbers. Like any good auditor would, she and her team followed the thread as far as possible. And that was much farther than any of them expected, and through more roadblocks than usual. Extraordinary Circumstances is the story of what happened: not just the fraud itself, but the story of both WorldCom and Cynthia Cooper, the story of an upstart telecom company from a state considered a backwater and a talented, driven young woman from that very same place.

As I said up top, I'm biased with regard to this book. I was sure it was terrific before I read it, and now I know I was right to think that. But Cooper ranged farther and dug deeper to tell this story than I expected -- I knew it would be personal and compelling, but I wasn't as ready for it to be the definitive story of a company's rise and fall.

I got one of the first copies off the presses -- there's that "insider" thing again -- but Extraordinary Circumstances is on trucks right now, en route to all of the booksellers you can think of (and probably a number you can't). The official publication date is February 8th.

I know my usual audience is not terribly interested in business books (and I've just picked up a giant pile of recent SF/Fantasy, which I hope to be powering through over the next couple of weeks), but this is a great book -- and I say that as someone who doesn't read lots and lots of business books, either.

(And, if you're a blogger or other reviewer who is intrigued and wants a copy for yourself, e-mail me at work at awheeler (at) wiley (dot) com. We'll be sending review copies out starting this week, and I'd love to include you.)

Update, 2/15: Since this is one of the top five Google hits for "cynthia cooper extraordinary circumstances" -- at least at the moment -- here are some other links from people who might be considered more unbiased about this great book than I am.


Unknown said...

Looks neat. I checked the Amazon listing, but didn't see mention of an audiobook. One of the people I'm mentioning this too doesn't have a lot of time to turn pages (at least on grup books...) but does listen to books while commuting to work.

Michael A. Burstein said...

I'd be interested in a copy, but I don't know if anyone who reads my blog would actually find the book of interest.

Anonymous said...

Hah! I just checked, and my review of the book is right above yours on Google! I also liked the book, but perhaps you might also like to know about some of my misgivings from the perspective of an accounting professor (and native of New Jersey-now living in Phoenix).

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