In “Tangled Webs,” a provocative and hard-hitting new book, James B. Stewart warns of the risks from an epidemic of perjury that has “infected nearly every aspect of society,” writes Sissela Bok in a Washington Post book review. Citing prosecutors who speak of a surge of concerted, deliberate lying by sophisticated, educated, affluent individuals, often represented by the best lawyers, he focuses on four cases involving well-known people at the pinnacle of their fields: Martha Stewart, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Barry Bonds, and Bernard Madoff.
Interviewing the main participants in the four cases, and acquiring previously secret grand jury transcripts and notes by FBI agents and other investigators through Freedom of Information Act requests, Stewart aims to pinpoint the very moment when participants decided whether to “practice to deceive” under oath. For some, Madoff chief among them, locating such a long-past moment might be impossible. Many of those found guilty of perjury or false statements in the four cases might at first have rejected out of hand the possibility that they would ever commit perjury, only to arrive at a time when they chose to do just that.