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A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Incredible Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers Paperback – 3 Sep 2009


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A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Incredible Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers + Too Big to Fail: Inside the Battle to Save Wall Street + When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long Term Capital Management
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Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Ebury Press (3 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091936152
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091936150
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.3 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 53,387 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

Lawrence G. McDonald was, until 2008, Vice President of convertible securities and distressed debt trading at Lehman Brothers; his prior career included convertible securities research and sales at Morgan Stanley and the co-founding of Convertbond.com, named by Forbes Magazine as "Best of the Web." Patrick Robinson is the co-author of LONE SURVIVOR and author of many tech-thrillers.

Book Description

The no-holds-barred account of the destruction of Lehman Brothers, by insider Larry McDonald

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 44 people found the following review helpful By James Johnston on 21 Oct. 2009
Format: Paperback
The story is very interesting - it's good to get the view from inside Lehman Brothers. I assume that all the dates and numbers are correct - no reason that they shouldn't be

But - the writing is not good. Too often the authors - both the former investment banker and the guy who made it into book - substitute made up conversations to advance the story. I'm not saying they fabricated the story - it's just that nobody, but nobody, remembers conversations years later - not like these guys pretend the banker did.
It is laziness and a lack of talent that leads to this

Too much of the book is about the author's education in the school of hard knocks, although it doesn't seem that they were all that hard, compared to many more people of his generation (now in late 30s I'd guess)

His upbringing was so deprived that he never has been a scratch golfer - one or two handicap, maybe. Not too deprived, I think. Maybe that he couldn't get into a better school than U Mass - Dartmouth had more to do with him screwing around while he was in high school.

Anyway - he did want to get to Wall Street, and he did have to do it the hard way - a series of jobs with increasing responsibility, and finally he finds the Holy Grail - his own desk at Lehman Brothers. He was SO happy!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Borden on 13 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
I suppose this is an "instant-tell-all" written quickly to exploit a market opportunity and current interest. The book is interesting from a timeline and events standpoint, but terribly written. Too much about the author, too much speculation about events where he wasn't present, and the language and style is very casual and repetitive.

It is a quick read - just skim over the author trying to build up his own case for calling himself "clever" as he loves to repeat.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By TheHonestBroker on 26 July 2011
Format: Paperback
Aside from the shockingly poor writing, the hyperbole and offputting and constant personal focus, the most disturbing part of this book is that it is presented as if written by someone who was privy to the decisions, meetings and conversations that decided Lehman's fate.

This guy was nothing more than a mid-level trader who had absolutely no position to know what was going on in the Boardroom, let alone in DC. To pass this off as if it is first-hand reporting, when in fact it is some undisclosed mix of conjecture and second-hand information (with very little in the way of acknowledgement to sources, by the way) is just plain dishonest.

If you want to read a thoroughly-researched, well-written book on the subject: Too Big To Fail is your book.

Don't waste your time or money on this.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By J. Casey on 13 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a disappointing read. Clearly the author(s) had vast scope for delivering a gripping inside view of the goings on at Lehman. However the serious subject matter is waylaid in a geewhiz semi-autobiographical type delivery. The story is populated with pen pictures of how brilliant most of the boys and girls at Lehman's were and how hard they worked - there are just too many cringe-inducing episodes lauding peers and superiors. All of which serves to dilute the credibility of the witness and to question the balance of the presentation. Sticking with it to the finish is a real challenge with this book.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Cornell on 1 Nov. 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The subject of the book is the collapse and bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in the autumn of 2008. The book was written by Larry McDonald, a successful but mid level bond trader working in the "distressed debt" team.

Larry had one dream in life and that was to work in Wall Street for an investment bank. The book relates his journey through life until he ends up at Lehman Brothers, after being head hunted by a friend.

Sadly rather than writing the book himself he chose to use the services of a ghost writer, Patrick Robinson, so I don't really know who to blame for the appalling writing style which ruins the book. Instead of simply relating what happened factually through most of the book it lurches into passages of text like "They carried our CFO, Chris O'Meara, out of the combat trenches with a few gunshot wounds and very muddy boots. After months of internecine warfare facing the light cavalry of Wall Street's analysts and researchers. Dick Fuld, his commanding officer, pulled him back from the front line to a more sheltered position. There are no medals awarded for ducking and diving in the face of the enemy, but Chris deserved one for gallantry under fire". Other examples were "The Lehman Board contained no Prince Hal, the swashbuckling young Henry V preparing to lead his troops to victory at Agincourt." Some of the descriptions were so awful that I would put the book down and leave it for a few hours or days.

The other huge criticism of the book is that, as Lehman Brother made the author redundant and then collapsed, wiping out a sizeable shareholding that he had put up through the portion of his annual bonus paid as shares, he is always going to have an axe to grind, so its not in the slightest bit impartial.
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