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Den of Thieves Paperback – September 1, 1992
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From Publishers Weekly
This 29-week PW bestseller, a QPB main selection, tells of the rise and fall during the 1980s of the biggest insider trading ring in Wall Street history. Updated in paperback. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Absolutely Splendid...Tremendously Important...Indecently Readable. (Michael Thomas The New York Times)
A fast-paced adventure populated with people who could teach the characters in 'Dallas' and 'Dynasty' a thing or two....It is a must read for anyone trying to make sense of the greed decade. (USA Today)
A revealing, disturbing tale of what can happen when greed runs rampant. (The Seattle Times)
Bursting with details...but told with magical clarity. (The Washington Post)
Stewart takes the reader through the maze of arcane Wall Street dealings as if he were writing a detective story. (The Philadelphia Inquirer)
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The details are intense and insightful. I found the profiles of the people involved most telling. Their mindsets and decisions and values say more about the challenges we face in a civil society than anything else.
The book is divided in two parts: Above the Law and The Chase. You get to see both sides of the story, both of them full of drama. I did not realise that the prosecutors had such a hard time until I read this book. It is not only a matter of legal technicality that explains some of the difficulties the law enforcements officers experienced in putting their case together (so they act "legally"), but it is also a matter of political interests that played such an important role in obstructing the application of the law. There are names more or less popular, some of them bordering celebrity status that come together and clash in a fight driven by conflicting interests. You read about people like Michael Milken, the guru of junk bonds, Ivan Boesky, the mysterious arbitrageur, Rudolph Giuliani, the famous mayor of NY, Martin Siegel, the investment banker that perfected the "poison pill" and many others. The law prevailed in the end but with such a great effort and pain, that one could not really imagine winners getting any joy out of this, maybe just a sense of relief that was all over.
Overall this is a good book, it is easy to read, fast paced, and not technical at all. I wish it had more clarity in marking the dates. Sometimes is difficult to understand the succession of events and see clearly what caused what. You will need occasionally to go back a few pages just to get the sequence straight. Although the story is about people and James made an effort to build characters by putting thoughts into their heads as the events unfold, I had the impression that some sections where very much taken from court archived notes. Overall, Den of Thieves is a good book that you can use to travel back in time and understand what happened during 80's, the decade of greed.
At times it can get a bit confusing following all the characters. Stewart had to include all the individuals since they were all inter-connected. In the beginning of the book there is a list of major characters and their jobs. I wish there was a short paragraph on each of them also. One could always find earlier references to the individuals by looking in the complete index.
If you are interested in human nature, greed, history of financial markets or the 80's stock market boom, I highly recommend this book. Well researched and written!
2) What makes an extraordinary book? An extraordinary writer.
3) What makes an outstanding, unforgettable book? Both above.
I'm not really into stocks, bonds, buyouts, mergers and acquisitions etc... Actually, this subject was pretty boring in my MBA course. So, take my advice, save your money and read this book instead: you'll get an inside look, almost a hands-on experience, on how your investment bank manages your money, on how your stocks are really valued, and what your expert-advisor in savings & loans really thinks about you. Take some pills and have a good sleep afterwards - you'll need them...