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

4.5 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Based on probing research, this modern morality tale is an expansion of a 1984 New York Times Magazine article on the ruinous behind-the-scenes struggle between two top officers of the 134-year-old private investment banking firm Lehman Brothers Kuhn Loeb. Auletta (The Art of Corporate Success, etc.) recounts in detail the takeover of the traditional and specialized but dissent-ridden and undercapitalized Wall Street company by an outside trader, the recently formed global giant Shearson/American Express. The new conglomerates that emerge from such moves, Auletta maintains, emphasize transactual, service business rather than advisory functions, and short-term gains at the expense of long-range growth plans. Wall Street, he claims, is well on its way to being dominated by a few superpowers that combine all financial services under one roof. Photos not seen by PW. Major ad/promo; Fortune Book Club selection; BOMC alternate; author tour. January
Copyright 1985 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Auletta chronicles the activity at Lehman Brothers during the months between July 1983 and April 1984, immediately preceding the firm's takeover by Shearson/American Express. During that brief period, Auletta reveals, Wall Street's oldest investment banking partnership was simultaneously buffetted by the ambition and greed of one faction and by the complacency and misplaced self-assurance of another group of partners. Details shared after the fact with Auletta by many of the participants make clear, often with self-serving insight, that blame for the takeover could well be shared by more than just the two principal players. This tension born of petty human motives is all the more striking when set against the sophisticated investment banking environment. Most business collections will want this title. Joseph Barth, U.S. Military Acad. Lib., West Point, N.Y.
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 253 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Pr; 1 edition (June 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585671541
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585671540
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.5 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #6,855,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Luc REYNAERT on July 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is a classic tale of a company run into the ground because it had two CEOs and two different departments fighting one another for the juicy bonuses. Moreover, the CEOs had totally different characters and a completely different business vision. One was extrovert, overambitious, jealous, profoundly selfish, impulsive, volatile, dominated by lust for power, vindictive, an intriguer. The other was rather introvert, cold, too trusting, apersonal, a bad communicator, self-centered, rather an intellectual aristocrat.

The introvert was ousted by the extrovert, who wanted to run his own show.

The house of Lehman was divided in two different clans: the bankers who were rather fixed on medium and long term business with stable clients and the traders who were only fixed on the short term.

While the introvert CEO could stand above both business divisions in the battle for the bonuses, the extrovert was himself a trader and was rather despised by the bankers. When the latter took the rein, key banking personal left the company. The traders wanted to cash in their shares as quickly as possible and the company was gobbled up by a third party.

This story shows also that `human relations matter as much as the bottom-line.'

A very worth-while read.
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Format: Paperback
1. 1983, Glucksman's primary interest was in preserving Lehman's independence and his own position of power, which he might best achieve by selling 50 percent or less of the business. Glucksman pushed Peterson out and trading represented 2/3 profits for Lehman. Market volatility characterized 1983, with thirty billion shares changing hands. Lehman was transforming from bankers holding 60 percent of stock to increasing percentage held by the traders. 90 percent of the stocks were traded by pensions, mutual funds, ContiGroup, Bankers trust, American Express, and investment banks.

2. Glucksman knew that Wall Street had changed. He knew that giant firms and money managers served as custodians of other peoples money and strove to maximize the return on their investment. Traders emerged to meet the demand. A trader buys and sells securities, bonds, options, stock, financial futures, commercial paper, certificates of deposit, treasury bills, and euro bonds for a fee or by gambling with the firms money. Make a market, buy, sell, and hedge, don't hesitate is the traders creed.

3. What kind of investment banking did Lehman want to be? Investment banking had changed. As the nation industrializes the most important element of corporate life is financing. Few of the inventor-entrepreneur class understood how to raise capital; they had limited access to financial institutions, investment banks for whom they could raise critical capital. Maturation of American Industry, new management class, and broad capital markets reversed the factors. Marketing and high technology operations replaced finance as the elements of major concern for CEOs.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The story of Lehman Brothers' problems in the mid-1980s. The author does a great job of depicting the characters.

I hope he does one or more sequel. One could be about Lehman's problems in 2008 and another could be about two of the characters in this book who went on to found BlackRock and become two of the richest men in the world.

The handling of pictures was much better than in most Kindle editions.
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By TC on March 11, 2016
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Good history of Investment Banking and especially Lehman Brothers. Tough reading sometimes due to the insider point of views on specific personalities and conflicts, but all in all a good representation of the historical facts and details leading up to the eventual demise of one of the largest institutional collapses of our time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is one of my favorites. It's a classic soap opera. What Lehman Brothers was, their glory days, how egos and greed destroy companies. This is a brilliant study of humanity on Wall Street. Fast read and I strongly recommend to anyone who's thinking of getting into the business!
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Format: Paperback
reads like a greek tragedy; rich treatment of the people involved in one of the most important, and most interesting, financial events of the 80s. ranks as one of the most finely crafted books of its type in business; it gives the reader a deep look inside a complicated world and shows us the role of interpersonal relationships in business decision making.
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This story of greed and glory is one that has been acted out in all types of businesses - large or small, service or product, new or old. It is a parable of overinflated egos, hyperpolitical environments and the inability of individuals to see their limits when blinded by the light of self-glorification. It is essential reading for anyone in a shared leadership role - partners, executives in tightly run corporations, etc. - and is most valuable for the lessons people should learn about themselves through Lehman's demise.
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