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Books: Tangled Webs

June 17, 2011 | Books,TLC Book Tours

I just finished reading Tangled Webs: How False Statements Are Undermining America — From Martha Stewart to Bernie Madoff by James B. Stewart. It’s a book on the June tour for TLC Book Tours, and I received a review copy from the publisher, Penguin Group.

The book was written by Pulitzer Prize winner James B. Stewart and dedicated “To all who seek the truth.”

Stewart meticulously lines up the situations of four people — Martha Stewart, Scooter Libby, Barry Bonds and Bernie Madoff — shows where they lied and explained the harm that such lies do to society.

I’d seen the headlines and heard some of the chatter about each case, but it was interesting to read the details Stewart provided.

I have to admit, though, that my eyes glazed over when we got to Madoff and the stock market. (Interesting that, having written for The Wall Street Journal and his expertise in the stock market, Stewart’s section on Madoff was the shortest.) I couldn’t help but think, really? It took everyone that long to smell the BS? I’m no Wall Street expert — far from it. But I kept thinking, “It’s not supposed to be that complicated. Nothing is.” Smelled like total BS to me.

Stewart quotes from Lying, a book by philosopher and ethicist Sissela Bok: “Trust and integrity are precious resources, easily squandered, hard to regain. They can thrive only on a foundation of respect for veracity.” He also says that lying that goes unpunished breeds cynicism that undermines civilization.

I agree with what he says. I can’t help but think of him as a wide-eyed idealist, which is an odd thing for me to call a man of almost 60.

But is lying really a new epidemic? I don’t think so. And sending Martha Stewart to jail certainly hasn’t deterred so many others from lying. I mean, really. Turn on the television on any given day, and what do you see? Arnold Schwarzenegger anyone? (His story was breaking as I started reading this book.) Or how about Anthony Weiner? Or what about those men who told everyone they were lesbian bloggers? Those are just a few recent examples. I could spend all day looking up others.

Does that make me a cynic? Maybe. Or maybe it just means I don’t like the smell of BS. (Y’all have seen my header at the top of the page, right?)

Even so, maybe it takes an idealist to keep writing about and discussing these issues so we can aspire to be better … and expect better from others.

Posted by Becky @ 12:00 pm  

2 Responses to “Books: Tangled Webs”

  1. Heather J. @ TLC Book Tours Says:

    I think you’re right that it takes an idealist to keep expecting better from others – sad but true.

    Thanks for your review and for being a part of the tour.

  2. James B. Stewart, author of Tangled Webs, on tour May/June 2011 | TLC Book Tours Says:

    […] Wednesday, June 15th: Deep Muck Big Rake […]

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