Columbus: Colleen Eren on Bernie Madoff and the Crisis
On Thursday, October 12th at 7pm, Book Culture on Columbus and Harper's Magazine present Bernie Madoff and the Crisis: The Public Trial of Capitalism, by Colleen Eren.
Bernie Madoff's arrest could not have come at a more darkly poetic moment. Economic upheaval had plunged America into a horrid recession. Then, on December 11, 2008, Madoff's $65 billion Ponzi scheme came to light. A father turned in by his sons; a son who took his own life; another son dying and estranged from his father; a woman at the center of a storm—Madoff's story was a media magnet, voraciously consumed by a justice-seeking public.
Bernie Madoff and the Crisis goes beyond purely investigative accounts to examine how and why Madoff became the epicenter of public fury and titillation. Rooting her argument in critical sociology, Colleen P. Eren analyzes media coverage of this landmark case alongside original interviews with dozens of journalists and editors involved in the reportage, the SEC Director of Public Affairs, and Bernie Madoff himself.
Turning the mirror back onto society, Eren locates Madoff within a broader reckoning about free market capitalism. She argues that our ideological and cultural tendencies to attribute blame to individuals—be they regulators, victims, or "monsters" like Madoff—distracts us from more systemic critiques. Bernie Madoff and the Crisis offers fresh insight into the 2008 crisis, whether we have come to terms with it, and what we have yet to gain from the case of the century.
Colleen P. Eren is Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York, LaGuardia Community College.