Bethany McLean

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Bethany McLean
Bethany McLean 9160060.jpg
McLean in 2018
Born (1970-12-12) December 12, 1970 (age 52)
Alma materWilliams College
Notable work
Chris Wilford
(m. 2000; div. 2006)

(m. 2008; div. 2020)

Bethany Lee McLean (born December 12, 1970) is an American journalist and contributing editor for Vanity Fair magazine. She is known for her writing on the Enron scandal and the 2008 financial crisis. Previous assignments include editor-at-large, columnist for Fortune, and a contributor to Slate.

Early life and education[edit]

McLean was born in Hibbing, Minnesota on December 12, 1970. McLean graduated from Hibbing High School in 1988.[1] In 1992 she received a B.A. in English and mathematics from Williams College.


McLean started her career as an investment banking analyst for Goldman Sachs[2] and joined Vanity Fair as a contributing editor in 2008.[citation needed] She began as a contributor to Slate's Moneybox column, in 2010 and "The Bulldog" column in Fortune.[citation needed]

She authored an article on Enron for the March 5, 2001, issue of Fortune entitled, "Is Enron Overpriced?"[3] The article noted some irregularities in Enron's financial documents that were available to the public, suggesting the company's then-record high stock price was unjustified but she did not at that point suspect fraud at Enron. After Enron's rapid collapse later in 2001, McLean co-authored the book The Smartest Guys in the Room (2003) which detailed the corrupt business practices of Enron officials. The book was later made into the Academy Award-nominated documentary Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.[4]

In 2005, McLean got into a spat with then-CEO of Patrick M. Byrne after she wrote a negative article about Overstock and him.[5][6]

She co-authored a book on the 2008 financial crisis titled All the Devils Are Here.

In September 2015, she published Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants which examines the governance and financial situation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac seven years after the 2008 financial crisis.[7][8] The Washington Post selected it as one of the best nonfiction books of 2015.[9]

In September 2018, she published Saudi America: The Truth about Fracking and How It's Changing the World which examined the "fracking revolution" and U.S. energy independence.[10][11] In 2019, Mclean launched a podcast titled Making a Killing on Luminary.[12]

Personal life[edit]

McLean married Chris Wilford in 2000 and divorced in 2006. In May 2008, she married attorney Sean Berkowitz, the former Director of the United States Department of Justice Enron Task Force.[13][14][15] They divorced in 2020.[16] McLean resides in Chicago with her children.[17]



  • McLean, Bethany; Elkind, Peter (2003). The Smartest Guys in the Room: The Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron. New York: Portfolio. ISBN 1-59184-008-2. OCLC 52418094.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: date and year (link)
  • McLean, Bethany; Nocera, Joe (2011). All the Devils Are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis. New York: Portfolio/Penguin. ISBN 978-1-101-44079-7. OCLC 688505799.
  • McLean, Bethany (2015). Shaky Ground: The Strange Saga of the U.S. Mortgage Giants. New York: Columbia Global Reports. ISBN 978-0-9909763-0-1. OCLC 898533197.
  • McLean, Bethany (2018). Saudi America: The Truth About Fracking and How It's Changing the World. New York: Columbia Global Reports. ISBN 978-0-9997454-4-1. OCLC 1028187397.

Essays and reporting[edit]


  1. ^ Brown, Aaron (September 6, 2018). "Hibbing grad warns of economic crisis below ground". Minnesota Brown: Modern Life in Northern Minnesota. Retrieved December 15, 2021.
  2. ^ "What Working At Goldman Sachs Taught Legendary Business Journalist Bethany McLean". Business Insider. Retrieved October 19, 2015.
  3. ^ McLean, Bethany (March 5, 2001). "Is Enron Overpriced?". Fortune (magazine).
  4. ^ Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room – IMDb, retrieved October 9, 2020
  5. ^ Metz, Cade (February 10, 2014). "Meet Patrick Byrne: Bitcoin Messiah, CEO of Overstock, Scourge of Wall Street". WIRED. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  6. ^ Roddy Boyd (August 18, 2005). "BYRNE'S HOT MAIL; OVERSTOCK CHIEF'S TEMPER ERUPTS IN MESSAGES". New York Post. Retrieved November 21, 2022.
  7. ^ Columbia Global Reports, "Financial System's Top Risk, Hiding in Plain Sight" (Press Release, September 14, 2015). Retrieved September 16, 2015
  8. ^ Ryssdal, Kai; Bodnar, Bridget (September 14, 2015). "U.S. mortgage giants under the microscope". Marketplace (radio program). Retrieved October 19, 2015. So they are part of the mysterious machinery that is an important component of most Americans lives, but you actually never think about it until things go wrong.
  9. ^ "Notable nonfiction of 2015". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  10. ^ Priest, R. Tyler (October 31, 2018). "'Saudi America' Review: The Truth About Fracking?". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  11. ^ ""Saudi America" by Bethany McLean". Columbia Global Reports. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  12. ^ "Bethany McLean on Making a Killing". The Big Picture. June 20, 2019. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  13. ^ Oxfeld, Jesse (July 21, 2006). "The Happiest Gal in the Courtroom". New York Magazine. Retrieved June 28, 2022.
  14. ^ Press, Canadian. "Loughlin, Giannulli lawyer is prosecutors' 'worst nightmare'". CFJC Today Kamloops. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  15. ^ Bailey, Jeff. "Q & A with Bethany McLean, Author of 'All the Devils Are Here'". Chicago magazine. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  16. ^ Booknotes+ Podcast: Bethany McLean on Elizabeth Holmes & Theranos (14:22), retrieved June 18, 2022
  17. ^ "Enron tale author Bethany McLean has a new book she wrote from her Chicago home". Crain's Chicago Business. November 15, 2010. Retrieved March 11, 2016.

External links[edit]

External video
video icon C-SPAN Q&A interview with McLean, June 19, 2005
video icon C-SPAN Q&A interview with McLean on All the Devils are Here: The Hidden History of the Financial Crisis, November 14, 2010