Customer Reviews for

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

Average Rating 3.5
( 69 )
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

The story of the Bear Stearns collapse is unbelievable, educational, and a good example of greed and ineptitude lurking on Wall Street.

If this book was labeled fiction, you would not believe it. Unfortunately it is non-fiction; and was a good learning experience for me. Does it give you great confidence in Wall Street? No, but I will assume this was not the typical Wall Street firm.

The sto...
If this book was labeled fiction, you would not believe it. Unfortunately it is non-fiction; and was a good learning experience for me. Does it give you great confidence in Wall Street? No, but I will assume this was not the typical Wall Street firm.

The stories of greed and power were expected; but perhaps more than I expected.

This is just a great learning book for me. I am a novice about the inner workings of Wall Street and the great financial collapse which took place in 2008. I learned more here about credit default swaps, credit default options, and Repo men than in other articles or books which I have read.

It is very readable, to the point of not wanting to put it down. If you want to expand your knowledge of what went wrong on Wall Street in 2007 and 2008, this is the book to read.

posted by luv55 on July 19, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

The House That the Last Tycoon Built

So I picked up House of Cards because of the reputation of Cohan from the novel "The Last Tycoons" (which I'm reading now). Overall the book is well written but with a few exceptions. The first is that Cohan launches the reader directly into the final days of Bear Ste...
So I picked up House of Cards because of the reputation of Cohan from the novel "The Last Tycoons" (which I'm reading now). Overall the book is well written but with a few exceptions. The first is that Cohan launches the reader directly into the final days of Bear Stearns. After the first 100 pages he then, abruptly, slams on the breaks during the very final moments of Bear's death throes and takes us back in time to then provide us with the background into the firm and its key players.

The flow would have been much improved had Cohan simply started with the founding of the firm, move into the character development of the key players; Cayne, Schwartz, Spector, & Greenberg and then move into the more recent events. Further, it almost felt like Cohan was resting on his reputation from Tycoons rather then doing what I believe he did which is the hard-hitting, deep dive investigative reporting he did for "Last Tycoons" to get the broad comprehensive, in-depth story. The background is actually painfully short before we again jump back into the more recent events.

Also, if one pays attention the majority of the novel is written from what seems like Cayne's perspective. When you contrast the scenes, specifically that of Cayne's role and how it played out with Roger Lowenstein's "When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management" this becomes even more glaring. It becomes even more obvious when you read "Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street" by Kate Kelly. While there appears to be a sprinkling of other viewpoints, mainly Molinaro, Cohan doesn't do enough to counterbalance Cayne's rather expansive and self-promoting personality to live up to the legend he created with "The Last Tycoons".

posted by durosas on November 25, 2009

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  • Posted July 19, 2009

    The story of the Bear Stearns collapse is unbelievable, educational, and a good example of greed and ineptitude lurking on Wall Street.

    If this book was labeled fiction, you would not believe it. Unfortunately it is non-fiction; and was a good learning experience for me. Does it give you great confidence in Wall Street? No, but I will assume this was not the typical Wall Street firm.

    The stories of greed and power were expected; but perhaps more than I expected.

    This is just a great learning book for me. I am a novice about the inner workings of Wall Street and the great financial collapse which took place in 2008. I learned more here about credit default swaps, credit default options, and Repo men than in other articles or books which I have read.

    It is very readable, to the point of not wanting to put it down. If you want to expand your knowledge of what went wrong on Wall Street in 2007 and 2008, this is the book to read.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    The House That the Last Tycoon Built

    So I picked up House of Cards because of the reputation of Cohan from the novel "The Last Tycoons" (which I'm reading now). Overall the book is well written but with a few exceptions. The first is that Cohan launches the reader directly into the final days of Bear Stearns. After the first 100 pages he then, abruptly, slams on the breaks during the very final moments of Bear's death throes and takes us back in time to then provide us with the background into the firm and its key players.

    The flow would have been much improved had Cohan simply started with the founding of the firm, move into the character development of the key players; Cayne, Schwartz, Spector, & Greenberg and then move into the more recent events. Further, it almost felt like Cohan was resting on his reputation from Tycoons rather then doing what I believe he did which is the hard-hitting, deep dive investigative reporting he did for "Last Tycoons" to get the broad comprehensive, in-depth story. The background is actually painfully short before we again jump back into the more recent events.

    Also, if one pays attention the majority of the novel is written from what seems like Cayne's perspective. When you contrast the scenes, specifically that of Cayne's role and how it played out with Roger Lowenstein's "When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management" this becomes even more glaring. It becomes even more obvious when you read "Street Fighters: The Last 72 Hours of Bear Stearns, the Toughest Firm on Wall Street" by Kate Kelly. While there appears to be a sprinkling of other viewpoints, mainly Molinaro, Cohan doesn't do enough to counterbalance Cayne's rather expansive and self-promoting personality to live up to the legend he created with "The Last Tycoons".

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 9, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    good book

    I worked at Bear, and I thought this book had really good coverage of their Waterloo. It may be too finance-oriented for general readers who may not understand repos and reverse repos, but it is great for the cognoscenti.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2013

    Excellent, fast paced account of the economic crisis

    This was a fantastic, exciting account of the start of the economic downturn, extremely detailed, and told with an engrossing interview style language. It made the complexities of the situation easy to understand.

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  • Posted August 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Inside saga of Bear Stearns's dazzling rise and dramatic, abrupt decline

    The 2008 collapse of leading Wall Street investment house Bear Stearns showed the world just how rickety the global financial system had become. William D. Cohan tracks the firm's dizzying rise and rapid collapse. His access to Bear Stearns insiders is the book's strongest point. He offers a trenchant analysis of its decades-long rise and a definitive account of its final days. Cohan paints textured portraits of Bear's top people, though he isn't especially interested in translating their Wall Street jargon for lay readers. He lets his sources speak in their own patois. getAbstract recommends this book to business history buffs, investors and managers seeking perspective on a spectacular failure.

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  • Posted July 11, 2009

    House of Cards

    Focus on Bear Stearns collapse not the entire House of Cards that caused the financial straits that the world is in today. A good read, but not that relevant.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2009

    House of Cards is indeed an insiders's peek of the unbridled greed and naked machinations of America's financial capital.

    William Cohan has written a thoroughly disturbing and amazingly in-depth look at the present-day freebooters and poster children of our country's financial excesses.

    In rather stark and chilling terms, Cohan has stripped away the mystique that immerses the secrets to expose the wanton disregard and total obsession for monetary gain that characterizes The Street.

    A must read for serious professionals and scholars of America's almost complete banking sytem meltdown during the waning days of the Bush administration.

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  • Posted June 13, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellant

    Takes you thru the entire debacle

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  • Posted June 1, 2009

    Compelling

    An inside look at the fall of Bear Stearns. I cannot speak to the accuracy of the research, nothing is foot-noted. However, it reads as an accurate, blow by blow account of the fall of this giant, with all of the pathos of a Greek tragedy. The characters are vividly portrayed; this book reads as a slow-motion thriller.

    Not for general reading, only for those interested in a riveting peek behind the scenes of the action on Wall Street and how giants fall.

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  • Posted May 2, 2009

    Provides a view of Wall Street and the financial crisis. Interesting reading and a valuable insight to greed and unrealistic expectations,

    A bit drawn out toward the end - however still good reading,

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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