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Black Edge Audiobook

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Bestseller

The story of the billionaire trader Steven A. Cohen, the rise and fall of his hedge fund, SAC Capital, and the largest insider trading investigation in history—for readers of The Big Short, Den of Thieves, and Dark Money.

The rise over the last two decades of a powerful new class of billionaire financiers marks a singular shift in the American economic and political landscape. Their vast reserves of concentrated wealth have allowed a small group of big winners to write their own rules of capitalism and public policy. How did we get here? Through meticulous reporting and powerful storytelling, New Yorker staff writer Sheelah Kolhatkar shows how Steve Cohen became one of the richest and most influential figures in finance—and what happened when the Justice Department put him in its crosshairs.

Cohen and his fellow pioneers of the hedge fund industry didn't lay railroads, build factories, or invent new technologies. Rather, they made their billions through speculation, by placing bets in the market that turned out to be right more often than wrong—and for this they have gained not only extreme personal wealth but formidable influence throughout society. Hedge funds now manage nearly $3 trillion in assets, and competition between them is so fierce that traders will do whatever they can to get an edge.

Cohen was one of the industry's greatest success stories. He mastered poker in high school, went off to Wharton, and in 1992 launched SAC Capital, which he built into a $15 billion empire, almost entirely on the basis of his wizardlike stock trading. He cultivated an air of mystery, reclusiveness, and extreme excess, building a 35,000 square foot mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, and amassing one of the largest private art collections in the world. On Wall Street, Cohen was revered as a genius.

That image was shattered when SAC became the target of a sprawling, seven-year government investigation. Labeled by prosecutors as a "magnet for market cheaters" whose culture encouraged the relentless hunt for "edge"—and even "black edge," or inside information—SAC was ultimately indicted in connection with a vast insider trading scheme, even as Cohen himself was never charged.

Black Edge offers a revelatory look at the gray zone in which so much of Wall Street functions, and a window into the transformation of the U.S. economy. It's a riveting, true-life legal thriller that takes readers inside the government's pursuit of Cohen and his employees, and raises urgent questions about the power and wealth of those who sit at the pinnacle of modern Wall Street.

©2017 Sheelah Kolhatkar (P)2017 Random House Audio

What the Critics Say

"Fast-paced and filled with twists, Black Edge has the grip of a thriller. It is also an essential exposé of our times - a work that reveals the deep rot in our financial system. Everyone should read this book." (David Grann, New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z)

"A tour de force of groundbreaking reporting and brilliant storytelling, a revealing inside account of how the Feds track a high-profile target - and, just as important, an unsettling portrayal of how Wall Street works today." (Jeffrey Toobin, New York Times best-selling author of American Heiress)

"Well-written, with pointed characterizations of the ambitious players and their motives, this book is highly recommended for readers interested in finance, crime, and politics." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.6 (370 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Christopher Wesdock 05-01-17
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    "Decent story, if at times redundant"

    WRITING/STORY: Good, not great. Balances the tedium of law/finance and the intrigue of white collar crime. A bit redundant, especially when revisiting concepts or using analogies.

    NARRATION: Ok. Not a lot of energy put forth, but this is non-fiction, so I wasn't expecting an over-the-top performance. The narrator handled dialogue quite well.

    EDIT/SOUND: Lots of missing consonants on the end of words - enough that it became distracting. Also could have used some treatment for sibilance. It's important to note that I could not listen to this title faster than 1.25x speed. It may have been the subject matter, but it took a lot more attention than most books.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Phil O. San Diego, CA, United States 04-10-17
    Phil O. San Diego, CA, United States 04-10-17 Member Since 2011

    Business Law Professor. Fan of history, finance, law, politics

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    "A solid telling; interesting characters"

    Most interesting to me was the clever design baked into the business organization itself and its internal protocols to prevent the top guy from directly, technically violating the insider trading laws. It is unclear whether that is top guy Steve Cohen's work of legal art, in particular, or some advisor's. But Cohen is a guy who gets things like that lined up sharply. There is a meticulousness in it, and obviously a great intellect behind it. Steve Cohen is not a guy who lets details slip by. We see a portrait of an intensely analytical, laser-focused moneymaker, from the poker days in college onward. He seems like a lopsided person, which translates to a moneymaking machine, turned on full-force 24/7. On the other hand, admitting up front this portrait (in virtue of his private nature) is very incomplete, the visible things can be very off-putting, at least to me. His art purchase grandstanding strikes me as mostly puerile, nihilistic showing-off, despite the slobbering blandishments of the sycophants who make money off him. He would nickel and-dime an ex-wife, it is suggested, spending plenty to do so, but think nothing of spending over $100 million for a status-oozing art object to hang in a hallway. No way would I trade places with this guy, But he is fun to watch. In some weird way it is tragic, so grandiose and yet so seemingly shallow. But this could be largely the optics of this book. He seems forever anxiously internally impoverished and frantic to acquire symbols to pretend otherwise. The ultimate object of juvenile-minded nihilism must be that shark in the formaldehyde tank he spent $8 million for. His intelligence is obviously formidable, and I would like a more 3-D portrayal of that, but that is not easy for anyone to provide, as he's very private, of course. We have infinitely more on J.P. Morgan and even Michael Milken. The view here seems a bit one-dimensional. Or maybe the guy is. And sadly, as his story progresses, we are not treated to a lot of pivotal deal details or methods, as these are very closely guarded, and that would probably have helped a lot to display what must be his genius. The explanations we do receive are well laid-out and patiently edited and understandable to any novice/layperson. Obscure terms are defined. The story flows very straightforwardly, and the narration is a good match. Anyone who has not been around modern criminal investigations gets a fair look at how they work, including some of the dynamics affecting prosecutors' decisions in a political and legal hothouse like Manhattan. The character of the convicted underling, Michael Martoma, is interesting in his own way. All these folks show an intense drive for success of a kind that built this country, but can get on the wrong track, and lose all context and meaning.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul Espey 04-07-17
    Paul Espey 04-07-17 Member Since 2014
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    "Phenomenal"

    Best book I've listened to in 2017 so far. Right up there with "The Greatest Trade Ever", "Too Big to Fail", "The Big Short" and "Flash Boys".

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M. Epstein East coast 06-28-17
    M. Epstein East coast 06-28-17
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    "At times redundant. Redundant at times."

    Also, the narrator's voice (at least at 1.25x) grated on me. Overall a good story, but if you're in the industry and followed the news loosely, there isn't a whole lot that comes as new information. I wish there was more discussion of the Newman ruling and its implications-- something that was glossed over. "Oh yeah, Steinberg's conviction was overturned because apparently there was no crime. Moving right along...."

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pradeep NORMAN, OK, United States 05-21-17
    Pradeep NORMAN, OK, United States 05-21-17 Member Since 2007
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    "Absolutely outstanding"

    This is an absolutely outstanding piece of journalism focusing on a crucially important aspect of financial markets' trading, and today's financial information ecosystem and architecture. It is written and presented extremely well. It keeps the reader/listener continuously engaged and enthralled. It is very difficult to put the book down or stop listening at any time.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Narada Princeton, NJ, USA 05-20-17
    Narada Princeton, NJ, USA 05-20-17 Member Since 2014

    the wondering jew

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    "Interesting, depressing, and raises questions"

    A depressing book on what a giant flaming asshole Stevie Cohen is, and what a cesspool his eponymous firm was. Also depressing in that Stevie skated on all the charges, while at least some of his minions were given serious time (Cohen did not even have to go through the indignity of a trial). This is pretty much par for the course, and echoes in some ways "the Spider Network" (a better book) - comparing the two books shows that while the US system is screwed up, it is a model of efficiency and good sense compared to the cluster **** that is the UK political and legal "system".

    On the other hand, one might ask: are insider trading laws really a good idea? Many people believe they are not - all they do is muck around with the free propagation of information (which is very difficult - really impossible, since for a company like Google, literally hundreds of people know the numbers before they are out, and you can't really blame them for trying to make a buck). This does not exonerate the lawbreakers, and yet...

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 05-29-17
    CHET YARBROUGH LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, United States 05-29-17 Member Since 2015

    Faced with mindless duty, when an audio book player slips into a rear pocket and mini buds pop into ears, old is made new again.

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    "THE DARK SIDE"

    In “Black Edge” Sheelah Kolhatkar masterfully recounts the dark side of capitalism. The American stock market is a tremendous source of energy (private money) for entrepreneurial capitalism. At the same time, a poorly regulated stock market pollutes the capitalist ideal.

    Capitalism is an economic and political system for trade and industry that allows individuals rather than a collective determine one’s future. The capitalist ideal’s upside is that people have more freedom. The downside is unrestricted human nature becomes brutish and unfair. Some form of governance is needed to provide rule-of-law. Without rule-of-law, society devolves into an anarchy of individual interests. There is no “invisible hand” that guides an economy to equal opportunity; i.e. there is only human nature and its pension for good and evil.

    The story of Steven Cohen is the story of a Trump presidency in the United States. America loses its way when capitalism is only seen through the prism of wealth. The “Get out of my way” philosophy of Cohen and Trump are cut from the same cloth. The difference is–one is more financially successful than the other.

    Human nature is not self-regulating. Unregulated human nature is brutish. The checks and balances of the American government are founded on that truth. When the American government fails to exercise its mandate for the health, education, and welfare of the nation, it diminishes capitalism. It diminishes a way of life cherished by most Americans. People like Steven Cohen and Donald Trump are guilty of being human and un-ruled.

    1 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Antonio Espinosa la Jolla, CA 05-14-17
    Antonio Espinosa la Jolla, CA 05-14-17 Member Since 2011
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    "Amazing"

    An awesome real life insight into Hedge Funds and SAC Capital. If you like financial reads you'll love Black Edge.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    rick boston,ma 05-11-17
    rick boston,ma 05-11-17 Member Since 2014

    rick

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    "eye opening"

    sad but true story of hedge fund greed. confirmed what we all suspect, insider info and massive wealth allow the super rich to get richer and be supported by those that benefit from their wealth....

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DC 05-10-17
    DC 05-10-17 Member Since 2015
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    "Great listen"

    Great story and performance. Will piss you off and reinforce just how rigged the game is.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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