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The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co. | [William D. Cohan]

The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co.

Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were the weapons of choice at Wall Street investment bank Lazard Frères & Co. For more than a century, the mystique and reputation of the "Great Men" who worked there allowed the firm to garner unimaginable profits, social cachet, and outsized influence in the halls of power. But in the mid-1980s, their titanic egos started getting in the way, and the Great Men of Lazard jeopardized all they had built.
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Publisher's Summary

Wall Street investment banks move trillions of dollars a year, make billions in fees, and pay their executives in the tens of millions of dollars. But even among the most powerful firms, Lazard Frères & Co. stood apart.

Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were its weapons of choice. For more than a century, the mystique and reputation of the "Great Men" who worked there allowed the firm to garner unimaginable profits, social cachet, and outsized influence in the halls of power. But in the mid-1980s, their titanic egos started getting in the way, and the Great Men of Lazard jeopardized all they had built.

Cohan follows Felix, the consummate adviser, as he reshapes corporate America in the 1970s and 1980s, saves New York City from bankruptcy, and positions himself in New York society and in Washington. Felix's dreams are dashed after the arrival of Steve, a formidable and ambitious former newspaper reporter. By the mid-1990s, as Lazard neared its 150th anniversary, Steve and Felix were feuding openly.

The internal strife caused by their arguments could not be solved by the imperious Michel, whose manipulative tendencies served only to exacerbate the trouble within the firm. Increasingly desperate, Michel took the unprecedented step of relinquishing operational control of Lazard to one of the few Great Men still around, Bruce Wasserstein, then fresh from selling his own M&A boutique for $1.4 billion. Bruce's take: more than $600 million. But as it turned out, Great Man Bruce snookered Great Man Michel when the Frenchman was at his most vulnerable.

©2007 William D. Cohan; (P)2007 Books on Tape

What the Critics Say

"A competent history of Lazard, a well-written biography of Rohatyn, and an exciting insider's account of Wall Street infighting." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (65 )
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4.0 (16 )
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4.2 (16 )
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Performance
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  •  
    07-03-09
    07-03-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Well written, but without a point"

    If you already know and care about Lazard, the book will be interesting. It's well-written and carefully researched, but after 32+ hours of listening, there is no real point to the story. There's no scandal, no lessons in business strategy, no connection to wider trends. The Publisher's Summary makes the story sound much more dramatic than it actually was, so if you are looking for entertainment, look elsewhere. If you really want to know the history of the company, the book is great.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mr. M Metwally 09-07-07 Listener Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good stuff"

    A book with good insights into the M&A business. Good historical perspective and valuable lessons to those who have Wall Street aspirations. The Author however spent more time than he should have on irrelevant matters - maybe in an attempt to spice the book - but winded up diluting what could have been otherwise an excellent book.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew NEW YORK, NY, United States 06-16-13
    Matthew NEW YORK, NY, United States 06-16-13 Member Since 2013
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    "Excellent book"
    If you could sum up The Last Tycoons in three words, what would they be?

    Yes, it's long, but for those of you into the M&A scene, or any area of finance, this will give an incredible account of the last century's financial development. As a junior 'financier' I was missing much of the history and now feel much better informed (for instance, why M&A advisory took off in the early 80's - development of Lotus 1,2,3). Highly recommend this book and of course 'Barbarians...'


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tomez Desilva Henderson, NV, United States 06-08-12
    Tomez Desilva Henderson, NV, United States 06-08-12

    ForensicPhD

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "The wisdom of those who are perceived to be great"
    What did you like about this audiobook?

    The personification of a facade that builds upon itself by convincing potential clients that Lazard had the secret sauce of which makes something out of nothing. The ability to mesmerize their clients by having underlings doing the extent of the grunt work.. Presenting the finish product with finess.


    How has the book increased your interest in the subject matter?

    Bruce Wasserstein comes on the scene and completely takes control of the firm and like a stealth missile gradually takes total control over Lazard. The scheme he employed was marvelous and gut wrenching.


    Does the author present information in a way that is interesting and insightful, and if so, how does he achieve this?

    Bruce Wasserstein


    What did you find wrong about the narrator's performance?

    The extreme reaction I had was how much money these firms were making, I was sad because it shows there are a chosen few who because of timing can become insanely wealthy.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher P. Mcmanaman Houston, Texas United States 05-27-09
    Christopher P. Mcmanaman Houston, Texas United States 05-27-09 Member Since 2007
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good book...horrible narrator"

    Unfortunately, with audiobooks...you need both.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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