Title: Exposure
Author: Michael Woodford
Date Reviewed: 8th September 2013
3 out of 10
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Exposure is the story of how Michael Woodford, President of the Japanese corporation Olympus, exposed a massive financial fraud.

“Brace yourself … Woodford tells his tale like a thriller” announces one of the quotes on the front of the book. And he does. But you know what? Just because you tell it like a thriller doesn’t make it thrilling. In fact if you write a whole book at the same pitch, which is exactly what Michael Woodford does, then the thrilling bits get lost. Do you know what I mean? It’s like if you’re at a seminar and the presenter talks at exactly the same level throughout it’s really boring, but if they vary their tone it holds your attention much more.

OK, I did find the story interesting. It’s a whole new world to me and not the sort of book I would normally read, so I picked it up with relish. He obviously did quite a major thing and you have to have admiration for someone who was brave enough to do the right thing despite what they had to lose. But I would find him much more admirable if he didn’t repeatedly tell me how fantastic he was.

What I did really like was the ‘Intermission’ chapter where he explained a bit about his background and upbringing. That was an interesting bit of detail which did make him come across as more human. Unfortunately, the description of how his wife cried down the phone when he broke the news to her that he’d accepted the position of President left a bad taste in my mouth – I couldn’t believe that he made such a life-changing decision without discussing it with his family first.

Unfortunately, Woodford ends up coming across as completely self-obsessed and what could have been a very interesting book just completely lost its impact for me. In fact I ended up finding it pretty irritating. Here’s what I think:

  • He needs to cut out the repeated references to people stopping him in the airport, street, luxury hotel to tell him how brilliant he was, and references to winning awards.
  • He needs to give it a rest about the company cars with drivers (goodness me I think he actually had to get a taxi once), the expensive suits, and the hotel suite upgrades.
  • And he needs to spend more time explaining exactly what happened and what it meant (unless the target audience of the book is actually Presidents of massive corporations, in which case don’t worry they’ll obviously understand).

I wish my review could be more positive. Unfortunately I feel that the book doesn’t do the story justice.

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