Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Book review: The Club No One Wanted to Join- Madoff Victims in Their Own Words

I recently received a new book to review- The Club No One Wanted to Join: Madoff Victims in Their Own Words. Since I do not live under a rock, I knew about the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme and had heard mention of his victims who lost everything. But the whole thing was kind of a vague idea to me until I picked up this book and the people involved didn't seem real.

That all changed as I read this book. Here's some information on the book, from the book's Amazon site:
It has been the public's perception that Madoff investors were all extremely wealthy and all belonged to exclusive clubs. This perception has been reinforced by the media and the powers that be. The truth is, with very few exceptions, such as Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Picower and Stanley Chais-most were average, small time investors. They did not belong to exclusive private clubs or any other fancy clubs. They lived an average American life; they worked hard, contributed to society and saved for their retirement years. But in the end that was not enough. No one, it turns out, could protect them from the worst financial criminal in history, Bernard L. Madoff. As a result, they were all thrown tragically into one club none of them ever expected to join: the "club" of victims. This is their story.

It is the first book of its kind about the Madoff Ponzi scheme, in which twenty nine Madoff investors band together to tell their story without an intermediary, directly to the public and in their own words. Baring private details and exposing the truth about who the real victims are, they don't hold back as to who really enabled the scheme to continue for forty years. The readers need to know what the authorities would rather keep from them, or else they are destined to become the next victims. The book's message is: this can happen to anyone.

The authors are men and women just like the average reader. They come from all walks of life - blue collar, white collar- from all parts of the country and at different life stages. These are working class families, ex-multi millionaires, professionals, artists and retirees. They come from Florida, Minnesota, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, California, Pennsylvania, Texas and other states. They come from different ethnic and religious backgrounds. In short they are regular people, Americans who got sucked into a Ponzi scheme that even the federal government has yet to solve. They all have one thing in common: they were robbed of their life savings by the worst financial criminal in history, Bernard L. Madoff. It is time the public learns the truth.

As mentioned above, the book is made up of essays written by Madoff's victims. The essays aren't by professional writers, they are real and raw and written from the hearts of people who have been through a horrible ordeal.  I think my heart broke for every person as I read their stories. These people lost everything, through no fault of their own. They did the research and got recommendations and did their best to make wise investments for their families- and it all went terribly wrong in the end. 

This book is heartbreaking and more than a little scary, as it really shows that this kind of tragedy could easily happen to any of us and how little is being done to stop it or fix the fallout.  But there are also moments that are inspiring and encouraging amidst the stories of loss. I spent most of my time while I was reading alternating between feeling sick at all the victims had lost, and being inspired by their attitudes and perspective on life and their experience. 

This book is definitely one that's worth reading. You can find it at or

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book to review for myself. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone.