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House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street Paperback – February 9, 2010
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“Engrossing . . . a parable about how the second Gilded Age came slamming to a fast and furious end. . . . Riveting, edge-of-the-seat reading.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Cohan's epic account chronicles a watershed moment in Wall Street history.” —The Boston Globe
"Masterfully reported. . . . [Cohan] does a brilliant job of sketching in the eccentric, vulgar, greedy, profane and coarse individuals who ignored all these warnings to their own profit and the ruin of so many others."--Los Angeles Times
"A masterly reconstruction of Bear Stearns’ implosion—a tumultuous episode in Wall Street history that still reverberates throughout our economy today. . . . First drafts of history don't get much better than this." —Bloomberg News
“This book is so rich, so flavorful, so instructive, and so fully and compelling cast that a reviewer hardly knows where to begin.” —The New York Observer
"Cohan vividly documents the mix of arrogance, greed, recklessness, and pettiness that took down the 86-year-old brokerage house and then the entire economy. It's a page-turner . . . offering both a seemingly comprehensive understanding of the business and wide access to insiders. . . . Hard to put down." —BusinessWeek
"[A]n authoritative, blow-by-blow account of the collapse of Bear Stearns." —The Washington Post
“Cohen’s autopsy uncovers all the symptoms of a walking disaster.” —Newsweek
"A riveting blow-by-blow account." —The Economist
About the Author
WILLIAM D. COHAN, a former senior Wall Street investment banker, is the bestselling author of The Last Tycoons and the winner of the 2007 FT/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award. He is an online columnist for The New York Times, and writes frequently for Vanity Fair, Fortune, ArtNews, The Financial Times, the Washington Post and the Daily Beast. He also appears frequently on CNN, Bloomberg TV and CNBC, and also on numerous NPR shows.
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Top Customer Reviews
The reader can probably never think of the card game, bridge, in the same way again. In House of Cards, the bridge players were the smartest, shrewdest and most street-smart guys. The made fast friends with whomever needed them. These friendships came to bad endings. The characters didn't finish their elite financial careers with friendships intact. The money was so big, so outrageous that it dominated everything.
My other note of caution is that for an account of two weeks of events surroudning the collapse and sale to JP Morgan that at times is meant to convey an hour-by-hour record of events, Cohan is too loose with attribution of statements and not deep enough in terms of sources. When a scene involves multiple men speaking, using the pronoun "he" causes too much confusion with the item at hand is so controversial that you want to keep people's distinct angles (those of board members, employees/stockholders, regulators) perfectly straight to tell the full story. At other times it is diffuclt to tell if a thought expressed is a paraphrase of a figure of the book, or Cohan's own take. He also relies on readily available sources like the New York Times, Fortune, and Wall Street Journal while leaning on the same insider sources too much to provide a 360 degree view of the events.
Bottom line: if you're looking for what amounts to a financial thriller full of flawed characters, many of which you can't help but loathe, this is a good read. The pace is as frenetic as the events it covers, and some of the quotes are beyond even the casual crassness of Wall Street. If you're looking for broader understanding of markets, credit, and the notion of reputational risk management, you may need a more academic source.
1] this is poorly edited; the same details keep getting repeated --sometimes after having been presented just a couple of pages earlier;
2] there is tremendous detail re finacial transactions; unless, you have a background in finance [I don't], a lot of this makes no sense;
3] the torrent of detail obscuires what happened -- these corporate leaders gambled with other peoples' money, they did not effectively manage risk and they allowed greed to take control of judgment;
4] the author reported voluminously but did not pull his story together with a focus on why what happened happened. There is a lack of careful analysis; sometimes I thought Mr. Cohan's goal was to throw out as many facts and stories as he could and hope some of them were of interest.
---I have read other financial stories [Den of Thieves; Liar's Poker, etc]. This was not in the same league and I would not recommend it.
This is a great story about one of wall streets fabled firms driven into oblivion by a CEO that did not pay attention to changes in the industry and changes in the market place. In the end he loses millions of his own money. Utter incompetence.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Explains to how a Leadership crisis and a lack of foresight destroys firms driven if highest levels of gross IQs !!!Read more