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The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade That Transformed Wall Street Paperback – July 31, 2007


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks; Reprint edition (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812978048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812978049
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #298,762 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"…"warts and all" account of the boom and bust of the late 1990s up until the start of this century." (The Wharf, Thursday 16th August 2007)

"...a Wall Street soap opera in the vein of Michael Lewis's Liar's Poker about Knee's time at Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs."  (Financial Times, Saturday 25th August 2007)

“an unusually candid view” (Reuters, Wednesday 5th September 2007)

"…this is a compelling read for both navel-gazing corporate financiers and voyeurs of the City and Wall Street." (CPO Agenda, Autumn 2007)

"really a great read...will go down as one of the great books on investment banking, just like Liar's Poker"  (City AM Podcast, Wednesday 19th December 2007)

"Easy enough to understand for even someone outside the industry" (Gulf Business, March 2008)

“…candid view of some of the big Wall Street firms, especially Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.” (Breakingviews.com , Wednesday 16th April 2008) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

“A RARE, RINGSIDE SEAT INSIDE THE MADCAP AND OFTEN EGOMANIACAL WORLD OF WALL STREET’S MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE.” – THE NEW YORK TIMES

BUSINESSWEEK BESTSELLER

The ACCIDENTAL INVESTMENT BANKER

JONATHAN A. KNEE

INCLUDES NEW MATERIAL BY THE AUTHOR --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. Matthews on September 22, 2007
Format: Paperback
The cover of this is so misleading that you wonder what the publisher was thinking. This book does not do for IB what Liar's Poker did for fixed income trading (no slobbish bond salesmen throw telephones around here - though on a couple of occasions people make inappropriate comments at parties and irritate clients, and towards the end, during the internet bubble, they decide to dress down on Fridays, then, when the bubble bursts, they stop doing it again). What it delivers is a critical assessment of the state of the IB business, framed in terms of the author's own experience and observations of life at Goldman and Morgan, together with an apologia pro vita sua.

Both are pretty good and pretty useful. If you work in any branch of professional services, then there is a lot of interesting stuff here (pitch books are, alas, not unique to IB) and it is also readable. Knee's prose is a bit, um, prosaic, he is not Michael Lewis, but it goes by easily - there is a bit of New-Yorker-itis (people are introduced as 'slim, handsome and elegant', even 'elfin' a couple of times - does no-one read Leonard's rules for writers?), but nothing on the scale of Barbarians at the Gate, which, it if it were not so unreadably, incompetently badly written, would be the Liar's Poker of IB. And there are some definite gems, such as the description of the Goldman IBS team as resembling 'a German olympic swimming team' (which is even better than 'the Chets') which must have made some people wince.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Zachary C. Strobel on September 16, 2007
Format: Paperback
Though-provoking and pleasurable read that will be greatly appreciated by anyone who has/is working in the realm of high finance or wants to know more about it. A must read for any young, up-and-coming banker. While most i-banking books have their share of good vignettes and war stories, what separates this book apart is the thought-provoking analysis of internal politics with crucial underlying dictums.

Positives:
-Great description of the how the latest boom-and-bust period and other factors have (negatively) affected i-banking.
-Candid opinions and vignettes of people currently or recently active on the Street.
-Edifying/applicable i-banking politics analysis.
-Laugh-out-loud war stories.

Negatives:
-Knee's own importance is likely overstated in some parts, but cut him a break, he's an investment banker!
-Knee's joy in waxing poetic about the 'old days' of investment banking is undeniably in part a pitch for his newer role at Evercore, but again, you have to cut the author a little slack here.
-Some controversial political analyses - I don't have inside information to argue whether Knee's view is the 'true' view or not. At a minimum he is willing to put forth views on matters where, in this day and age, the vast majority of writers are too chicken to attempt.

The book ties together (1) Knee's career path, (2) Knee's most entertaining war stories, (3) Analyses of the rise-and-fall of several key figures on the Street and (4) Knee's main story: the changing roll of investment banks and the reasons for this change. While some have argued that certain parts are off topic, I would say that these stories and analyses are crucial to understanding the time and Knee's reasons for taking his particular view of i-banking.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A_Power on February 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
This book sat on my shelf for a long time, after I found Liar's Poker a most disappointing read. This book is quite different - much more informative and introspective - and ultimately much more worth a read.

"Liar's Poker" was recommended it to me as a 'rollick' but when I read it, I found these self-important, abrasive characters who bullied their way around deeply depressing against the backdrop of the knowledge that the markets they invented, ultimately brought the financial markets - and with them, the world economy - to its knees. One of the important contrasts of the two books is that "Liar's Poker" was about traders, whereas this book is about advisers - the more traditional role of investment bankers. The fact that the two books are about different role-players is interesting in that one of Jonathan Knee's arguments is that the rise of trading and the now much smaller role played by advisors in investment banks is one of the problems.

Another difference between this and "Liar's Poker" is that the author also includes a lot more contextual material. He alternates between his personal story and a historical account of the major swings and changes that surrounded his story. His own journey took him through time at Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and, in the end, to a small boutique alternative. As he alternates between his story and the greater context, he also gives space for introspection.

In particular, he reflects on the role Sydney Weinberg played at Goldman Sachs.
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