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Posted at 7:00 AM ET, 03/10/2011

Story Pick: The Madoff Tapes

By Brigid Schulte

"One evening, my home phone rang. “You have a collect call from Bernard Madoff, an inmate at a federal prison,” a recording announced. And there he was."

And with that opening, Steve Fishman's piece in New York magazine, The Madoff Tapes, had me hooked.

There is something so horrible on such a horrifically grand scale in the saga of Bernard L. Madoff and the Ponzi scheme that spanned the globe, brought down investors and destroyed his family, that it's hard to look away. Indeed, I couldn't put the magazine down until I'd read every word. What is it that fascinates us so? The Shakespearean element of tragedy with his son Mark's suicide? Fishman calls it worthy of the House of Atreus. (Remember Tantalus, the guy who chopped up and cooked his own son and fed him to the gods, only to spend all eternity in Hades hungry.)

Perhaps we want to understand why he did it, or how he lives with himself. Fishman writes of Madoff's visits to his prison therapist:

And so, sitting alone with his therapist, in the prison khakis he irons himself, he seeks reassurance. “Everybody on the outside kept claiming I was a sociopath,” Madoff told her one day. “I asked her, ‘Am I a sociopath?’ ” He waited expectantly, his eyelids squeezing open and shut, that famous tic. “She said, ‘You’re absolutely not a sociopath. You have morals. You have remorse.’ ” Madoff paused as he related this. His voice settled. He said to me, “I am a good person.”

This and other astonishing rationalizations are captured in extensive audiotapes and make for fascinating, if queasy, listening.

By Brigid Schulte  | March 10, 2011; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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Here's someone worse than Madoff:

Posted by: texansay | March 10, 2011 7:33 AM | Report abuse

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