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“Wilson’s heartfelt story is a Faustian American tale, dramatic, Dreiserian, and delicious.” —J. Michael Lennon, author of Norman Mailer: A Double Life
This compelling story converges at the 3-way intersection of an up-from-nothing coming-of-age memoir, an insider’s account of the colossal business failure of Arthur Andersen, the iconic international professional firm and, in the aftermath of the acutely personal effects of that calamity, a search for and rediscovery of a higher purpose and spiritual meaning.
It is the story of a boy abandoned by his too-young, recently-divorced mother when he was 1-1/2 years old, succored by a “foster” family until he turned four, then forcibly wrested from this family by his birth mother when she reappeared with a new husband. The author grew up in Aberdeen, Washington, a tough, immigrant, harbor town of plywood factories, lumber mills and labor wars, pollution, merchant seamen and dozens of whore houses, dubbed by the popular press as “Hell-Hole of the Pacific” at the turn of the last century, and ground zero in “America’s war on sin” in mid-century. Like Kurt Cobain, another native son a generation later, the author wanted nothing more than to escape the shackles of Aberdeen. But his path was the corporate world, not grunge music, where he climbed the greasy corporate pole to the partnership at Arthur Andersen.
Arthur Andersen collapsed in 2002 under the weight of Enron and other financial scandals. While the book chronicles the author’s unlikely ascent to the partnership at Andersen, it also provides insights into what went phenomenally right during the firm’s heyday, and disastrously wrong in the end. When Arthur Andersen died, the author’s world imploded as well. He was left with no choice but to re-examine everything he thought he knew about myself. What he discovered at the dead end of the path of self-flagellation was a new beginning radically different than the one he left behind.
Robert Wilson was a partner in Arthur Andersen, the international accounting and consulting firm, and, later, the chief financial officer of both public and private companies. He has also been a member of several corporate boards of directors. Robert lives with his wife in Scottsdale, Arizona and Newport, Rhode Island.