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The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co. Hardcover – 1 May 2007

3.9 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1 May 2007
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 742 pages
  • Publisher: Us Imports; 1st Edition edition (1 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385514514
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385514514
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 4.8 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 243,485 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

"Cohan's portrayal of the firm's dominant partners--whose gargantuan appetites and mercurial habits provide the unifying force behind the book's operatic melodramas-- makes this an epic . . . In fact, " The Last Tycoons" bears a striking resemblance to F. Scott Fitzgerald's" The Last Tycoon.""
"--New York Times Book Review
"
"Breezy and highly readable . . . For those of us who enjoy high-level gossip (most people) and an inside look at the machinations, triumphs, failures, and foibles of some of Wall Street's and America's most exalted personages, Cohan's book is entertaining and seductively engrossing."
--"Chicago Tribune"
"Cohan's thoroughness--he interviewed over 100 current and former bankers and assorted bigwigs--unearths a trove of colourful titbits, many quite racy . . . Illuminating are Mr. Cohan's descriptions of the scheming, politicking, and general dysfunction that was Lazard."
"--Economist"
"Cohan not only knows where the bodies are buried but got a guided tour of the graveyard."
"--Financial Times
"
"["The Last Tycoons"] has sent a jolt through Lazard and the rest of Wall Street."
"--Wall Street Journal"

"From the Trade Paperback edition."

Cohan s portrayal of the firm's dominant partners whose gargantuan appetites and mercurial habits provide the unifying force behind the book s operatic melodramas makes this an epic . . . In fact, The Last Tycoons bears a striking resemblance to F. Scott Fitzgerald s The Last Tycoon.
New York Times Book Review

Breezy and highly readable . . . For those of us who enjoy high-level gossip (most people) and an inside look at the machinations, triumphs, failures, and foibles of some of Wall Street s and America s most exalted personages, Cohan s book is entertaining and seductively engrossing.
Chicago Tribune
Cohan's thoroughness he interviewed over 100 current and former bankers and assorted bigwigs unearths a trove of colourful titbits, many quite racy . . . Illuminating are Mr. Cohan s descriptions of the scheming, politicking, and general dysfunction that was Lazard.
Economist
Cohan not only knows where the bodies are buried but got a guided tour of the graveyard.
Financial Times

[The Last Tycoons] has sent a jolt through Lazard and the rest of Wall Street.
Wall Street Journal

From the Trade Paperback edition."

About the Author

WILLIAM D. COHAN, a former award-winning investigative newspaper reporter in Raleigh, North Carolina, worked on Wall Street for seventeen years. He spent six years at Lazard Freres in New York and later became a managing director at JP Morgan Chase. He lives in New York City and Columbia County, New York."

Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Growing up in the 1980s, you became aware of the changes in the US, and UK's economy in the face of vicious deregulation.and other economic changes. If you asked people to name the bankers involved in those changes, Lazard's would be one of the banks that people mentioned.

This book traces the history of Lazard's from its' humble beginnings (as a merchant) to the sort of bank that the 99%ers have come to love to hate. It's an interesting book. Breezy to read at first but kind of depressingly gossipy towards the end, when we learn how the once great bank became almost unmanageable in the 1970s through to the 1980s when internal management controls were barely heeded at all.

You'll enjoy the book, but you'll get depress by then end, when you realise that behinf the facade, there were times that a venerable old bank would buckle under their weight of their poor management practices.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fascinating tale, well told. You don't need to know any jargon and the author is very good at explaining any complex issues. It really is amazing just how unpleasant most of these people were.
Also many of them seemed to be pretty incompetent.
I think that some people might find it to be perhaps a bit too long and it can be a bit uneven.
There are lots of great anecdotes and unusual characters in the book. It shows that Investment banking has probably always attracted the "morally challenged"
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Format: Hardcover
If investment banking and the history of big deals fascinate you, getAbstract invites you to sit down with this compelling history of Lazard Frères & Co., from its humble beginnings through its astounding success. The stories of the dominant personalities who used the Lazard mystique to garner unbelievable fees are legendary. As a former journalist and Lazard banker, William D. Cohan has the skill and qualifications to tell this story. While he covers many of Lazard's biggest men and biggest deals, he never bogs down in technical details. The author focuses on the firm's leaders, and shows their personalities, strengths and foibles. These stories cover shocking self-interest and staggering amounts of money. This large book has a cast of hundreds; it is attributed carefully and well-indexed, though it could use a personnel timeline. Cohan keeps you on track by focusing on the men who led Lazard over the 157 years that it was a family firm. Many of the personal revelations are quite sensational and the book is almost always entertaining.
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Format: Hardcover
Based on unique access Mr Cohan has put together a comprehensive picture of one of the last private banks in the Investment Banking world. As objective a view as anybody would ever be able to get of this world where perception and reality can not be distinguished even by those inside the firm. Lazard was lucky enough to have a transatlantic Mergers and Acquisition business that its competitors tried to emulate in the giddy 1990's. A cast of characters which were the last of the "stars", that created so much heat they burned each other to cinders. A fitting obituary to a world that disappeared.
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Format: Paperback
At the heart of this book is a fascinating story of a fascinating bank staffed with fascinating characters. I can't help feeling though that better editing would have made this much more readable. For example:

- As a Brit, I object to definitions of the Inland Revenue as "the UK version of the IRS", as though everyone reading the book would know what the IRS is but be ignorant to what the Inland Revenue was, and saying the Department of Trade and Industry is "the UK equivalent of the SEC" is just plain wrong.

- I found the constant lengthy gratuitous asides really annoying. For example, in the middle of a description of a power struggle between the head honchos, which is really interesting, we spend 2 full pages talking about cigars, and their importance to the history of Lazard. I DON'T CARE.

- I really don't understand why the ITT tax case and investigation was drawn out for so long. It is really technical and it bored me, and as an accountant I am used to long boring technical stuff.

All that said, once you get over the ITT case, the pace picks up and the story takes over. Worth a read.
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