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Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of the House of Lehman

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On a quiet July morning, one of the world's most powerful and prestigious investment banking partnerships was launched on the path to ruin-not by the economy, not by an act of God, but by a self-inflicted wound. The firm was Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb, a revered Wall Street institution with roots that stretched back to the Civil War. And what happened that July morning in 1 On a quiet July morning, one of the world's most powerful and prestigious investment banking partnerships was launched on the path to ruin-not by the economy, not by an act of God, but by a self-inflicted wound. The firm was Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb, a revered Wall Street institution with roots that stretched back to the Civil War. And what happened that July morning in 1983 would not only spell the end of a banking firm but would come to symbolize the recklessly high-flying Wall Street of the 1980s. Through hundreds of hours of interviews, through access to private company records, through the confidence of board members, partners, associates and employees, Ken Auletta created a prophetic spellbinder which resonates especially today. It is a story of greed, ego and error; a tale of primal combat between two men and between two irrevocably different and hostile worlds; a superb example of investigative journalism that rivals any best-selling novel for sheer surprise, drama and excitement.


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On a quiet July morning, one of the world's most powerful and prestigious investment banking partnerships was launched on the path to ruin-not by the economy, not by an act of God, but by a self-inflicted wound. The firm was Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb, a revered Wall Street institution with roots that stretched back to the Civil War. And what happened that July morning in 1 On a quiet July morning, one of the world's most powerful and prestigious investment banking partnerships was launched on the path to ruin-not by the economy, not by an act of God, but by a self-inflicted wound. The firm was Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb, a revered Wall Street institution with roots that stretched back to the Civil War. And what happened that July morning in 1983 would not only spell the end of a banking firm but would come to symbolize the recklessly high-flying Wall Street of the 1980s. Through hundreds of hours of interviews, through access to private company records, through the confidence of board members, partners, associates and employees, Ken Auletta created a prophetic spellbinder which resonates especially today. It is a story of greed, ego and error; a tale of primal combat between two men and between two irrevocably different and hostile worlds; a superb example of investigative journalism that rivals any best-selling novel for sheer surprise, drama and excitement.

30 review for Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of the House of Lehman

  1. 5 out of 5

    Tulay

    Great book. Learned a lot about the Lehman Brothers. Cotton trading of Lehman brothers in Montgomery, Alabama to 55 Water street in Manhattan to Shearson/American Express buyout in 1985. Egotistical, greedy millionaires. Read about the final couple years that ended in 2008 with bankruptcy. Now I know how they started.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kim Stiegel

    It was my own fault that I didn't more closely read this book's description - I thought it was going to be about BOTH times Lehman Brothers *fell*, once in the 80's and again during the 2008/2009 recession when they finally went under - so I was a little surprised when the book ended in the 80's. With that said, I did learn a lot, but I learned a bit too much... many times during the book, I thought there was just too darn much detail; and I felt some sections were not accessible at all to anyon It was my own fault that I didn't more closely read this book's description - I thought it was going to be about BOTH times Lehman Brothers *fell*, once in the 80's and again during the 2008/2009 recession when they finally went under - so I was a little surprised when the book ended in the 80's. With that said, I did learn a lot, but I learned a bit too much... many times during the book, I thought there was just too darn much detail; and I felt some sections were not accessible at all to anyone who doesn't have knowledge of the financial industry (contrasted with, say, "The smartest guys in the room" about Enron, where the authors explained the financial mumbo jumbo in layman's terms).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    In 1983, Lew Glucksman, co-CEO of Lehman Brothers, demanded the resignation of chairman Pete Peterson. Shockingly, Peterson agreed to step down. This book details the turmoil, infighting, and power struggles that brought about Peterson’s departure and the sale of one of Wall Street’s oldest firms. While the book starts out as interesting, it quickly falls into the mundane and hard to follow story of greed. Skip it and find a better book on Wall Street bank demises.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Writemoves

    Inside story of greed, power and dirty politics within Lehman Brothers in the 1980's. Details dealings for Lehman to merge with Shearson/American Express. Focus of the book was on the CEO battle for Lehman between Pete Peterson and Lewis Glucksman. Upper management and the Board were concentrated on their bonuses and benefits. Inside story of greed, power and dirty politics within Lehman Brothers in the 1980's. Details dealings for Lehman to merge with Shearson/American Express. Focus of the book was on the CEO battle for Lehman between Pete Peterson and Lewis Glucksman. Upper management and the Board were concentrated on their bonuses and benefits.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Dave

    A great description of how a wall street firm tears itself apart from personality politics and ego.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bobby Macauley

    Wow just fantastic. I went into this book pretty blind and assumed it was about 2008 Lehman, rather than the lead up to the AMEX takeover in 1984. The drama and tension post-Bobby Lehman’s death, Glucksman the usurper vs the company’s one-time savior Peterson, and the power struggle between the bankers and traders made for an incredibly entertaining story.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Billy

    I came across this in a pile of donated books that formed the "library" of the church basement homeless shelter I volunteered in overnight a couple years ago. The person who gave this to the church sure was well-meaning and thoughtful--I'm sure there's nothing a recovering methadone addict would rather read about than the struggles for the soul of a Wall Street investment house. I couldn't sleep, though, so I stayed up all night reading it. The one star is for the subject matter and where I foun I came across this in a pile of donated books that formed the "library" of the church basement homeless shelter I volunteered in overnight a couple years ago. The person who gave this to the church sure was well-meaning and thoughtful--I'm sure there's nothing a recovering methadone addict would rather read about than the struggles for the soul of a Wall Street investment house. I couldn't sleep, though, so I stayed up all night reading it. The one star is for the subject matter and where I found the book, but it's actually an okay piece of journalism about Lehman Brothers in the 1980s; an engaging enough story of the aloof old-guard executive (a former Nixon Cabinet member and pompous ass who would sign documents and then toss them over his shoulder, assuming, correctly, that someone would be there to pick them up) pitted against the rough and gruff outer-borough Number 2 guy, a rags-to-riches sad sack who passed on the executive suite and kept his charmless office down in the trenches with the grunts (well, i-banker grunts) leading, ultimately, to the public offering of Lehman Brothers and the loss of its Gilded Age, chummy old-boys club private culture.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Byrne

    This book details the collapse of Lehman Brothers. No, not that time—the other collapse of Lehman. It's a weirdly compact story about social climbing and boardroom politics (you will get maybe one paragraph every fifty pages about the actual business of Wall Street). It would be hard to make a movie from this book. The two main characters are easy to typecast: Peterson, the lean, well-dressed DC insider, and Glucksman, the overweight cigar-chomping trader who really likes boats. But an honest fi This book details the collapse of Lehman Brothers. No, not that time—the other collapse of Lehman. It's a weirdly compact story about social climbing and boardroom politics (you will get maybe one paragraph every fifty pages about the actual business of Wall Street). It would be hard to make a movie from this book. The two main characters are easy to typecast: Peterson, the lean, well-dressed DC insider, and Glucksman, the overweight cigar-chomping trader who really likes boats. But an honest filmmaker would point out that both Peterson and Glucksman grew up poor—it just took him less than a generation to start acting like he'd been born into what he earned. In the book, Lehman faces the two crises that seem to destroy many partnerships: making a lot of money and trying to distribute the wealth, and losing a lot of money and trying to distribute the blame. Maybe the real reason banks turned from partnerships to corporations, or stayed small, is that running a democracy with 80 or so voters is just no way to manage a trading desk.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Chris Saxman

    Larry Rosen highly recommended this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    Great book! Good case study of business gone bad.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Alan Kane

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alan

  13. 4 out of 5

    Scott Chludzinski

  14. 4 out of 5

    Joey Lim

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ben Smolley

  16. 4 out of 5

    Clay Reis

  17. 4 out of 5

    Hugh Campbell

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tomas HERNANZ

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gjøa

  20. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

  21. 5 out of 5

    D.B.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Praveen Krishnan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Karen Appleby

  24. 4 out of 5

    Patrick

  25. 5 out of 5

    Harry Garvey

  26. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cj Rue

  28. 4 out of 5

    Troy Jensen

  29. 5 out of 5

    Matt

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sanjeev

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