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House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street | [William Cohan]

House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street

In March 2008, Bear Stearns, a swashbuckling 84-year-old financial institution, was forced to sell itself to JPMorgan Chase for an outrageously low price in a deal brokered by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who was desperately trying to prevent the impending catastrophic market crash. But mere months before, an industry-wide boom had "the Bear" clocking a record high stock price. How did a giant investment bank with $18 billion in cash on hand disappear in a mere 10 days?
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Publisher's Summary

In March 2008, Bear Stearns, a swashbuckling 84-year-old financial institution, was forced to sell itself to JPMorgan Chase for an outrageously low price in a deal brokered by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, who was desperately trying to prevent an impending catastrophic market crash. But mere months before, an industry-wide boom had "the Bear" clocking a record high stock price. How did a giant investment bank with $18 billion in cash on hand disappear in a mere 10 days?

In this tour de force, Cohan provides a minute-by-minute account of the events that brought America's second Gilded Age to an end. Filled with intimate portraits of the major players, high-end gossip, and smart financial analysis, House of Cards recounts in delicious narrative form the dramatic events behind the fall of Bear Stearns and what it revealed about the financial world's progression from irrational boom to cataclysmic bust. House of Cards is the Rosetta Stone for understanding the dramatic and the unprecedented events that have reshaped Wall Street and global finance in the past two years.

©2009 William D. Cohan; (P)2009 Tantor

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (370 )
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3.9 (126 )
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4.1 (125 )
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  •  
    Carol Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 05-23-11
    Carol Oak Ridge, NJ, United States 05-23-11 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very Detailed but Good"

    I like unabridged books because I like the detail of "being there." I won't say listening to this was easy - the material is complex and dozens of characters are involved - but it did frequently have me on the edge of my chair.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Matthew Glen Allen, VA, USA 06-07-10
    Matthew Glen Allen, VA, USA 06-07-10 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "My house is your house"

    An interesting storyline version of the mess that brought down the economy and housing market. I found this version to be a more engaging account than other related books on the subject. Only problem was that it was a true story that affected us all and will continue to do so for at least a generation. The sheer apathy, greed and display of shock at their (the financial sector gurus) own demise astounds the reader. If you are a homeowner who refinanced during the mid 2000s take heed. You're nothing more than milking cow to some greedy creatures higher up the economic food chain.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Rye, NY, USA 05-02-10
    David Rye, NY, USA 05-02-10 Member Since 2015
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    4
    1
    Overall
    "Impressively well written."

    William Cohen clearly made an effort to explain what happened at Bear Stearns in a well told story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Elizabethtown, KY, USA 08-18-09
    Robert Elizabethtown, KY, USA 08-18-09 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "As dry as toast"

    The story is told in a dry, linear fashion. There is very little 'story' and reads as though it is transcript from some string of interviews.

    Yawn.

    I guess if you really love accounting and finance this book could work for you.

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John MORRISVILLE, PA, United States 08-04-09
    John MORRISVILLE, PA, United States 08-04-09 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "long, excruciating detail, inside baseball"

    It's long, long, long, long and long.

    The amount of detail obscures the concepts underneath the premise of the book, what happened to Bear Sterns. Was it bridge? Was it writing about bridge? Was it focusing on decreasing expenses rather than increasing revenue stream? Was it a fictional character created by the CEO to get people to save money? Was it the semi-circular desk? Motorcycles? Ferraris?

    At the end of the day, I can't tell what the author is trying to point to. Cut this book by 2/3 and you've got something. Where's an editor when you need one?

    2 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Johnny 04-28-09
    Johnny 04-28-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
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    "Mesmerizing Story, But Sad Human behavior"

    House of Cards was a thoroughly engaging read(listen). Found the narration to be superb especially the tonality used for CEO Jimmy Cayne's Voice. At some points it felt like I was actually there listening to these guys in their office. The story of hubris and greed is a sad commentary. Such is the case that "bankers/brokers" making ten's of millions of dollar a year were able to destroy a company with 13,000 employees and an 80 years history. Little or no technical jargon. No need to be in finance to enjoy this book. Like to walk when listening to books and was able to walk farther and longer than usual because I found the story so interesting.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Eugene S. 06-18-09
    Eugene S. 06-18-09 Member Since 2013
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    "absolute garbage"

    I thought this would be an insightful analysis of the events that lead to the collapse of the market. Instead this book is a 25-hour long drivel describing in excruciating detail the daily minutia at Bear Stearns. I really don't care who plays bridge with whom or what Hank Paulson had for lunch. It is absolutely incredible how someone can write a book this long and yet make it largely devoid of content.

    4 of 9 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Alan WICHITA FALLS, TX, United States 10-24-11
    Alan WICHITA FALLS, TX, United States 10-24-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "I now have a better understanding"

    I now have a better understanding of how the crash of 2008 was planned and orchestrated. I still feel that the entire crash of 08 has been set up by our government!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carroll Saratoga Springs, NY, United States 10-23-09
    Carroll Saratoga Springs, NY, United States 10-23-09
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Great Book!"

    This book read like a novel. Very well written. Once I started it, I didn't want to put it down. I am tempted to send a copy to President Obama, since I don't see the administration doing anything to re-regulate the financial industry. William Cohan did a great job of pulling this mess together into a coherent and compelling tale.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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