Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Review: Miles Away... Worlds Apart by Alan Sakowitz

Miles Away... Worlds Apart by Alan Sakowitz

Disclaimer: I received this book from the author in exchange for a review. 

Summary: Alan Sakowitz, a whistleblower of a Madoff-like Ponzi scheme masterminded by Scott Rothstein, fraudster extraordinaire, tells the story of his decision to turn in Rothstein regardless of the possible dangerous ramifications of such a decision. The saga of Rothstein's rise and fall which included a Warren Yacht, two Bugattis, Governor Crist, the former Versace mansion, The Eagles, and even the murder of a law partner, is the stuff that Hollywood movies are made from.

Instead of the mere accounting of such a scandal, Sakowitz uses the Rothstein scheme as a cautionary tale in stark contrast to the stories of humble, ethical individuals living within Sakowitz's neighborhood in North Miami Beach, Florida. Sakowitz's neighbors are people who have spent their lives trying to assist others, not line their pockets, and through these stories Sakowitz creates a sharp dichotomy between the greed, of a Rothstein and its mainstream culture of consumption and the charity, kindness and selflessness of a principle-oriented community. Indeed, Sakowitz speaks to the symptoms of a culture that could create a Scott Rothstein, and, though acknowledging that the easy way out is not simple to dismiss, offers remedies to the growing ills of our entitlement society. The answer, Sakowitz says, lies in thinking first of others, and how one's actions should benefit the lives of friends, not one's short-term gratifications.

Review: A gratifying book that tells the story of extreme greed and contrasts it to a community of people that are willing to help others without a second thought.

The motto of this story, if it's too good to be true, then it is. Sakowitz turns a lawyer's eye on the situation and can easily see the red flags. Still, even if you aren't a lawyer, I hope that people wouldn't be so easily taken in by something that seems too good to be true. It's always worth getting a second opinion. It is also very important to trust your gut. Too often people are blinded by greed. 

The story of Rothstein's fall could have been a very sad and tragic story. Sakowtiz balances Rothstein and his greed with stories from his community. Those stories are very heartwarming and I would gladly read a book just of those stories (Sakowitz mentions the possibility of such a book in his acknowledgments). I am very glad Rothstein gets prosecuted and gets what is coming to him. I had hoped to learn exactly how Rothstein was taken down. The fall of Rothstein and his scams is a cautionary tale. I do not think there is anything wrong with earning money and wanting to have some of the nicer things in life, but there is a point where there is too much money unless it is being used for good purposes.


Recommendation: I would recommend this book to people who enjoy legal/law nonfiction and anyone who enjoys heartwarming stories and good messages.

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