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King of Capital: The Remarkable Rise, Fall, and Rise Again of Steve Schwarzman and Blackstone Hardcover – October 5, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 81 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“The authors … [take] us from the early days of the Blackstone Group, when the firm was just two guys and a secretary, to the buyout boom, when Mr. Schwarzman’s conspicuous consumption became a symbol of the new Gilded Age. In between, the book dives deeply into the firm’s signature deals — Celanese! Nalco! Distressed cable bonds! — that made Mr. Schwarzman and his partners so rich. It also delivers some fun details about many of the now-famous Wall Street players that did tours of duty at the firm. —New York Times DealBook

“Carey and Morris’ thorough reporting offers a compelling look into the little understood Wall Street giant and the secrets of its success.”
—Worth Magazine

“[R]anks as one of the most even-handed treatments of the industry. David Carey and John Morris . . . received unusual access to Blackstone. . . . This allowed them to chronicle the firm in full and entertaining fashion across its 25-year history.”
Bloomberg Brief – Mergers

“[A] broad history of private equity, with Blackstone as the touchstone.”

“Check out "King of Capital" because it's got gossip, it's got brains, and it's as readable as hell. And it's got some really good Schwarzman stories too.”
The Deal

"King of Capital aspires to be a serious portrait of Blackstone and the way that Schwarzman so brilliantly built it up, scoring numerous coups along the way and avoiding the mistakes of many competitors. And it does a fine job in what it sets out to do." — Financial Times

“The authors link Blackstone’s history to the larger story of private equity’s expansion and its relationship to corporate America. They offer a lucid explanation of how the debt markets evolved from junk bonds to securitised loans, changing the types of deals that private-equity firms were able to finance.” — The Economist

About the Author

DAVID CAREY is senior writer for The Deal, a news service and magazine covering private equity and mergers and acquisitions. Before joining The Deal he was the editor of Corporate Finance magazine and wrote for Adweek, Fortune, Institutional Investor, and Financial World.
JOHN E. MORRIS, now an editor with Dow Jones Investment Banker, was for many years an assistant managing editor at The Deal in New York and London and before that was an editor and writer at The American Lawyer magazine.

To find out more visit: www.king-of-capital.com

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business (October 5, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307452999
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307452993
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.4 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (81 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #76,343 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The story begins with the history of private equity. Stephen Schwarzman the ultimate central character in this book is a young mergers and acquisitions partner at Lehman Brothers. Henry Kravis of Kohlberg, Kravis and Roberts (KKR) is doing one of the first private equity buyouts called Houdaille Industries. It's a $380 million dollar deal. Schwarzman is sitting in his office at Lehman Brothers, and saying how could this be? How could KKR get this done? What are the details? It was a eureka type moment.

Schwarzman orders up the financing document, and can't believe what he is reading. He is looking at a revolutionary financial concept that he never dreamed could exist. He knows that all great achievements start out as merely a thought, and then someone must act on the thought. KKR has already been in the business the better part of a decade when Schwarzman latches onto the concept.

He tries to get Lehman Brothers to buy into the concept. They won't go, even though he explains that with one deal we could make more money than we make in a year doing everything else we do. Ultimately there is a falling out between glamour boy Pete Peterson who is running the firm with Lou Glucksman, the in your face trader who can't stand Peterson. Glucksman wins; Peterson leaves the firm and with Schwarzman and a secretary proceed over time to build Blackstone from nothing, just an idea. Together Schwarzman the young man, and Peterson the old tiger, they build Blackstone into a private equity powerhouse.

It's all here, blemishes and all. You are reading financial history as firms collapse and private equity ascends.
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Format: Hardcover
My favorite Stephen Schwarzman story is a personal one. I used to work at Lehman Brothers as an investment banker. We were (of course) bookrunners on the Blackstone IPO, and as was typical for every other IPO, the management of the company comes and teaches our traders about the value of the company. They, in turn, go and pitch the stock to their clients.

Usually it's the CEO and CFO of a company generating about $20mm of net income, an $86mm IPO, and we would struggle to fill the room. In this case, it was Stephen Schwarzman. The man was already a billionaire several times over, and the room was standing room only. Dick Fuld himself came down from the perch of the 33rd floor, and told a room full of his own employees and Stephen Schwarzman, "If we do this IPO right, Steve will be worth more than this whole company."

Boy, he had no idea how right he was.

When I heard this book was coming out, the finance nerd in me eagerly awaited and found it which local store would get it the fastest because I didn't want to wait for the online shipping time.

So, I bought it yesterday and read it in a day. It's awesome. Steve is a genius in so many ways, and the book does a good job of balancing personal/lighter stories along with the heavier finance stuff. You learn about Pete Peterson (author of the scary Running on Empty), and how together, they formed what's still the worlds largest PE firm.

I'm being purposly vague because I want people to read and experience this book for themselves.

Get it, read it. You won't be disappointed.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This might be the kind of thing you will like. The writers clearly had access to Steve S, and are being much more positive about him than any other source I have seen (I should say that while I do not know Schwartzman, I know many of the senior people of the pre-2004 Blackstone. While all of them did very well out of the business, none of them were fond of their fearless leader). The authors are also very positive about private equity in general, which makes the book read more like a puff piece than I would have liked. The actual contents are mostly a laundry list of deals, and some of the narrative is fairly insightful, while some just puts one to sleep (they did this, it did not work, they did this, it did work, etc, etc, etc).

To summarize: if you are very interested in the private equity business, by all means, read this book, otherwise I am not sure it will keep your attention.
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Format: Paperback
For a while in 2006 it felt like private equity would buy up the universe. Intoxicated by rising pension allocations and a tidal wave of credit, PE companies acquired anything in their sight. The bonanza was crowned with the extravagant 60th birthday party of Blackstone's celebrity CEO Steve Schwarzman. Then came the hangover. Financial journalists David Carey and John Morris walk us through the making of Blackstone while at the same time giving the reader a history of the PE business.

In a way this is a story much like many others about successful entrepreneurs with initial struggles and self-doubt before the business takes off, quick expansion and then the inevitable need for outside management additions, structure and procedures as the business matures and gets scale. Schwarzman really is a gifted competitor. By focusing on risks and not overreaching when others are exuberant, by keeping reserves to opportunistically invest when others are terrified, by diversifying his firm into often counter cyclical product lines and by being impressively flexible to changes in the environment that PE operates in, he has over the long time won by not losing. One by one most of the competitors over-invested in good times and had to scale down to their ambitions. In the end only the arch enemy KKR with Henry Kravitz at the helm stood between Blackstone and the domination of the PE-sector.

One fascinating aspect of the two great PE booms (the LBO/corporate raider era of the late 80's and the period 2004 to mid-2007) that I - as a European - hadn't realized is how dependent they were on junk bond financing in the US.
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