An insightful, racy page-turner

Mar 10 2013, 20:09 IST
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SummaryThe foremost challenge in chronicling a widely-publicised event involving a high-profile personality is to ensure that there is enough material, over and above the details already available in the public domain, that can make the effort worth a read.

Fallen Angel is an account of an extremely successful man and the extraordinary events surrounding him

Fallen Angel: The Making and Unmaking of Rajat Gupta

Sandipan Deb

Rupa Publications

Rs.295

Pg 248

The foremost challenge in chronicling a widely-publicised event involving a high-profile personality is to ensure that there is enough material, over and above the details already available in the public domain, that can make the effort worth a read.

Sandipan Deb’s Fallen Angel: The Making and Unmaking of Rajat Gupta is a racy account with its cast of real-life characters centred around Gupta, former head of the world’s most respected management consultancy firm, McKinsey & Co. The book recounts how the former Goldman Sachs director was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison by a New York court in October last year for insider trading.

As the reference in the title—which alludes to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, where Lucifer was God’s most devoted angel till he fell and turned into Satan—Gupta was larger-than-life before his eventual downfall. Till his conviction and sentencing on October 24, 2012, for securities fraud and insider trading, Gupta, who symbolised both Indian middle-class aspirations and the American dream, was widely seen as an iconic figure, both for his business acumen and philanthropy.

The book goes back repeatedly to Gupta’s background as an orphan who made it to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), supported his siblings, joined the Ivy League and then managed to touch dizzying heights in the US corporate sector. It also offers insights into Preet Bharara, the Indian-born US prosecutor who made it a personal mission to set Gupta behind bars; Raj Rajaratnam, the stock trade-turned-stockster and Robert Moffatt, who could have been the CEO of IBM but ended up in prison instead.

Gupta, however, takes centrestage, and the account lists out views of colleagues and peers, and pretty much all the possible reasons why the man should not have got into one of the most serious white-collar crimes in the US, knowing fully well the risks his actions could carry. And this at the pinnacle of his career when money was not an issue and the future beckoned.

What led to his fall from grace? Based on extensive research, including transcripts of FBI-wiretap conversations, the book is an insightful account of an extremely successful man and the extraordinary events surrounding him. Although the legal pronouncement is out, the question remains unanswered on what led

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