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Joseph Finder

... best-selling novelist, espionage expert. Mr. Finder’s best-sellers Paranoia and Company Man are set in corporate America. His controversial 1983 exposé of Dr. Armond Hammer was confirmed once the Soviet Union collapsed. A fiction writers since the late 1980s, Mr. Finder’s spy thrillers repeatedly anticipated world events and High Crimes was made into a major motion picture starring Ashley Judd and Morgan Freeman. Mr. Finder continues to write about espionage and international affairs for “The New York Times,” “The Washington Post” and “The New Republic.”

Excerpts2:24 secs

Business culture defines America, and the rest of the world has copied us, ad infinitum, says best-selling novelist Joseph Finder. He has put his skills to work where 80% of Americans work -- in or for some corporation.  Like it or not, Mr. Finder says, Americans’ involvement in business has shaped the way we look at the world and the way the world looks at us.

Mr. Finder made his second big splash beginning in the late 1980s, as his spy novels consistently anticipated real world events. His first one? Responses to his 1983 non-fiction book _Red Carpet_.  In it, he made a strong case that Dr. Armond Hammer, CEO and founder of Occidental Petroleum, was a fraud. (Facts that surfaced when the Soviet Union fell validated Mr. Finder’s assertions.)

Using what Mr. Finder had learned about intelligence gathering at Yale, Harvard, in life and with his many contacts in the world of espionage, four novels later he found it wasn’t hard for him to cross the bridge from spy novels to corporate thrillers. Lots of corporate security people have backgrounds at the FBI or CIA and it came as no surprise when a friend at the C.I.A. explained how corporate espionage is modeled on international espionage -- including what the CIA, KGB and Mossad (Israeli intelligence) were doing. Add to that mix, Mr. Finder says, it is public knowledge that several generations of some of America’s most prominent families have been directly involved, all at pretty much high levels, in the cross-overs between the security organizations and big business, particularly in the defense industry.

So Mr. Finder went to work exploring the corporate terrain which, to his surprise, is virtually untapped by novelists.  Why? He thinks it’s because novelists know neither the lay of the land nor the language spoken there. Neither did he, so he called up some of the nation’s leading Chief Executive Officers (CEOs), got them to tell him what it’s really like at the top. He prevailed on friends who are Chief Financial Officers (CFOs) to tell him what they do not do, but could. And finally, Mr. Finder hung out on factory floors and in company towns to fill in the gaps between.  Then he sat down to write.

Yes, one learns a great deal about corporations reading Mr. Finder’s corporate thrillers.  But he doesn’t think of them as “business books,” because he’s not writing about business processes.  He writes about people. No, he is neither anti-corporate nor pro-corporate, he says.  He’s pro-drama, pro-entertainment and always looking for the story.  To tell that story, he says, means he must locate the issues and controversies inside the workplace or office politics -- whatever it is that allows him to get at what the real story is. With no ax to grind and no polemic to put forth, he says he’s free to do what he’s there to do -- make the pages turn.

[This Program was recorded April 28, 2005, in Atlanta, Georgia, US.]

Conversation 1

The business culture now defines America, Joseph Finder tells Paula Gordon Paula Gordon and Bill Russell, then expands on the evolution and particulars of that culture.

Conversation 1 RealAudio6:09 secs

Conversation 2

Taking a contrarian point of view, Mr. Finder details why he wrote a novel with a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of a large company as protagonist. Mr. Finder remembers his own odyssey, learning enough about corporate culture to write thrillers based in the corporate world, wanting to answer for himself, What is it like for the CEO when his company lays off thousands of people?  He gives both positive and negative examples of how executives’ tendency to be isolated and to not communicate makes their problems a lot worse.

Conversation 2 RealAudio11:34 secs

Conversation 3

Red Carpet, Mr. Finder’s 1983 book in which he reported that Occidental Petroleum Founder and CEO, Dr. Armond Hammer, was a fraud, is revisited in light of Mr. Finder’s subsequent spy novels. He sees how his overall interest in espionage provided a bridge into the corporate world. Corporate espionage, he reports, is modeled on international espionage, from the CIA and KGB to Israel’s Mossad. Insidious, very high level, multi-generational cross-overs between the security organizations, big business and particularly the defense industry are noted, as key to the United States getting ever-closer to being a security state. Mr. Finder demonstrates how fiction can enable us to learn more than we might in non-fiction.

Conversation 3 RealAudio10:39 secs

Conversation 4

Comparing CEOs who can fire thousands without a blink and those traumatized by the experience, Mr. Finder gives a series of national and international examples of how corporate culture works. Pointedly rejecting the role of polemicist, Mr. Finder talks about telling a good story which has added-value. The real villains of his novel are exposed (hint: take-over firms and consultants with no vested interest in the people whose lives they impact) and he talks about corporate CFOs (Chief Financial Officers).

Conversation 4 RealAudio11:05 secs

Conversation 5

Corporate abuse is not new, Mr. Finder reiterates, with examples of egregious behavior leading up to the Great Depression, confident that now, as then, this is a few-rotten-apples phenomenon. Lots of the CEOs of public companies he interviewed he says say it’s impossible to do long-term building of a company when 1 or 2 “down quarters” gets them fired, resulting in the temptation for the CEO and/or his CFO to “put lipstick on a pig.”  He explains “Power Corrupts and PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely,” then gives vivid examples of how technology has transformed the business world.

Conversation 5 RealAudio11:21 secs

Conversation 6

Coming to the business world with admiration and fascination and without an ax to grind, Mr. Finder says, keeps him from being either anti-corporate or pro-corporate, just pro-drama and pro-entertainment. To tell the story, he concludes, he must locate the issues and controversies, because he’s there to make the pages turn. 

Conversation 5 RealAudio4:40 secs


We very much appreciate Mr. Finder’s breadth and depth, as well as his uncommon courtesy in sharing his enthusiasm for our endeavors.


Company Man is published by St. Martin’s Press, Paranoia is also available from St. Martin’s Paperbacks.

Find more about Mr. Finder, his non-fiction and his growing body of best-selling novels at his website.

Robert Monks provides factual insights into the types of companies and people about which Mr. Finder produces fiction.

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