• The Fall of the House of Zeus

  • The Rise and Ruin of America's Most Powerful Trial Lawyer
  • By: Curtis Wilkie
  • Narrated by: Sean Runnette
  • Length: 13 hrs and 41 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (204 ratings)

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The Fall of the House of Zeus

By: Curtis Wilkie
Narrated by: Sean Runnette
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Publisher's Summary

The Fall of the House of Zeus tells the story of Dickie Scruggs, arguably the most successful plaintiff's lawyer in America. A brother-in-law of Trent Lott, the former U.S. Senate majority leader, Scruggs made a fortune taking on mass tort lawsuits against "Big Tobacco" and the asbestos industries. He was hailed by Newsweek as a latter-day Robin Hood and portrayed in the movie The Insider as a dapper aviator-lawyer. Scruggs's legal triumphs rewarded him lavishly, and his success emboldened both his career maneuvering and his influence in Southern politics - but at a terrible cost, culminating in his spectacular fall, when he was convicted for conspiring to bribe a Mississippi state judge.

Here Mississippi is emblematic of the modern South, with its influx of new money and its rising professional class, including lawyers such as Scruggs, whose interests became inextricably entwined with state and national politics. Based on extensive interviews, transcripts, and FBI recordings never made public, The Fall of the House of Zeus exposes the dark side of Southern and Washington legal games and power politics: the swirl of fixed cases, blocked investigations, judicial tampering, and a zealous prosecution that would eventually ensnare not only Scruggs but his son, Zach, in the midst of their struggle with insurance companies over Hurricane Katrina damages. In gripping detail, author Curtis Wilkie crafts an authentic legal thriller propelled by a "welter of betrayals and personal hatreds," providing large supporting parts for Trent Lott and Jim Biden, brother of then-senator Joe, and cameos by John McCain, Al Gore, and other D.C. insiders and influence peddlers. Above all, we get to see how and why the mighty fail and fall, a story as gripping and timeless as a Greek tragedy.

©2010 Curtis Wilkie (P)2010 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"A remarkable illustration of how far the mighty can fall." ( Publishers Weekly)

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What listeners say about The Fall of the House of Zeus

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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The title says it all - The fall of Scruggs

Would you listen to The Fall of the House of Zeus again? Why?

Yes, because it is masterfully done. You feel as if you are really getting a sense of who Dickie Scruggs is. You don't want to care about this man - this lawyer, but you do. It is kind of the story of a prostitute with a heart of gold. It is great listen and it is probably an even better read. It gives you some insight into why people are driven and why things sometimes turn out wrong, even though they started out right.



What was one of the most memorable moments of The Fall of the House of Zeus?

The most memorable moment is when the law firm, now located in Oxford, Mississippi, learns that Dickie, his son and partners are about to be arrested. Dickie, who has been cruising on pain killers and anti-anxiety medication, is now painfully alert that it is about to all fall down and he basically has nowhere to go.

What about Sean Runnette’s performance did you like?

Sean Runnette seems to capture the Southern cadence without being grating. He was down-home and lawyerly at the same time - a feat!

If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

You can never pay off enough people and when you piss off someone - there will be hell to pay!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

True Story But Almost Like a Novel

I found this book fascinating. Though it is a true story, it was like listening to a novel and I found it entertaining all the way through. Tory Dutton

2 people found this helpful

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Sad story

As an attorney, the events described in this book are a sad tale of big money and political corruption in the Mississippi judicial system. An otherwise good lawyer being brought down by unadulterated greed, and professional jealousy.

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Not a good Audible listen.

Curtis Wilkie is remarkable, as is the story behind this book. Not a good listen; may be a good read.

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Intriguing Real Life Political Drama

I am from Oxford and had read this book when it first came out. Years later I now know a majority of the characters so wanted to re-read it again but no longer have the time to read. I decided to instead listen to it. The only problem with the narrated version in the mispronunciation of several words and names. Two that I know off the top of my head were Lafayette and Rhea Tannehill’s name.

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Found it most interesting.

listen to it every opportunity I found till the final words of the Final Chapter

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Narrator is not from around here!

Being a Mississippian, you can certainly tell that the narrator has no idea how to properly pronunciate places like Biloxi. I think it a case like this , it would have been a good idea to get someone from Mississippi to pronounce local names and cities for the narrator. Other than that it was a good job.

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Worth a Listen

Intriguing story. Perhaps a few too many side stories to follow in an audio book.

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Great Read!

What made the experience of listening to The Fall of the House of Zeus the most enjoyable?

The narrator was not mono-toned at all!

What did you like best about this story?

The intertwined web of connections and betrayal.

What about Sean Runnette’s performance did you like?

His inflections! Really gave the story a feeling of a thriller.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The lawyer's interaction with Zak after he left his sentencing. I could feel the burn of those words.

Any additional comments?

I would recommend this book to anyone. It really is an button pusher, since I could not help but press play every time I had a chance to listen. I am about to listen to it again. It was so well written and narrated. Great non-fiction book!

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Well written and meticulously researched

The well written and meticulously researched tale of the rise and fall of an iconic trial lawyer. A first rate morality play.