Icarus in the Boardroom: The Fundamental Flaws in Corporate America and Where They Came From. By David Skeel. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. 2005. Pp. vii, 250. $25.
Everyone loves a good scandal. Scandals sell papers. They focus public attention and galvanize public opinion. They also divert and entertain. The recent corporate scandals are no exception. Coming, as they did, in the midst of an economic downturn, they focused public attention oncorporate governance and galvanized public opinion in favor of reform. They also did not fail to entertain.
But perhaps most importantly, scandals are rhetorically useful. They provide politicians with ammunition to attack their opponents and assure commentators of a wealth of material over which to disagree. Here again, the recent corporate scandals did not disappoint. Democrats and Republicans in Congress sought to blame the mess on each other, the President pledged to get tough, and the New York State Attorney General built a gubernatorial campaign out of combating corporate evil-doers. Articles on corporate reform appeared regularly in newspapers and law reviews, and prominent legal academics testified in Washington.