The AIG Story

The AIG Story

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by Maurice R. Greenberg, Lawrence A. Cunningham
     
 

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Selected as one of Motley Fool’s  "5 Great Books You Should Read"

In The AIG Story, the company's long-term CEO Hank Greenberg (1967 to 2005) and GW professor and corporate governance expert Lawrence Cunningham chronicle the origins of the company and its relentless pioneering of open markets everywhere in the world. They

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Overview

Selected as one of Motley Fool’s  "5 Great Books You Should Read"

In The AIG Story, the company's long-term CEO Hank Greenberg (1967 to 2005) and GW professor and corporate governance expert Lawrence Cunningham chronicle the origins of the company and its relentless pioneering of open markets everywhere in the world. They regale readers with riveting vignettes of how AIG grew from a modest group of insurance enterprises in 1970 to the largest insurance company in world history. They help us understand AIG's distinctive entrepreneurial culture and how its outstanding employees worldwide helped pave the road to globalization. 

  • Corrects numerous common misconceptions about AIG that arose due to its role at the center of the financial crisis of 2008.
  • A unique account of AIG by one of the iconic business leaders of the twentieth century who developed close relationships with many of the most important world leaders of the period and helped to open markets everywhere
  • Offers new critical perspective on battles with N. Y. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and the 2008 U.S. government seizure of AIG amid the financial crisis
  •  Shares considerable information not previously made public 

The AIG Story captures an impressive saga in business history—one of innovation, vision and leadership at a company that was nearly—destroyed with a few strokes of governmental pens. The AIG Story carries important lessons and implications for the U.S., especially its role in international affairs, its approach to business, its legal system and its handling of financial crises.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Greenberg collaborates with Cunningham (Law/George Washington Univ.; Contracts in the Real World, 2012) to tell his side of the story of the incredible rise, and even more precipitous fall, of AIG, once the world's largest insurance company and the epicenter of one of the biggest bailouts ever. The authors divide their account into two parts separated by Greenberg's resignation from his leadership positions in the company in early 2005 as a result of an orchestrated press campaign organized by then-crusading N.Y. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, whose own subsequent downfall was even more complete than that of AIG, which, in this presentation, he had worked so assiduously to destroy. The authors claim that what led to the 2008 bailout was the incompetence of the leadership that took over after Greenberg quit. His replacements are said to have lost sight of the significance of the risks incurred by the financial derivatives unit responsible for the credit-default swap business, the collapse of which forced the government's hand. Few of Greenberg's identified opponents, including AIG's outside directors, the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, and employees of the state's attorney general's office, emerge with their reputations intact. Only now is the company emerging from government ownership, and the authors examine Greenberg's career building the biggest insurance company in the world. A Korean War veteran, Greenberg brought Western insurance products to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, helped open China to Western finance, and provided indispensable, sometimes covert, services to the U.S. government. A useful contribution to the ongoing shaping of the story of the recent financial crisis.
From the Publisher
“Summing Up: Recommended.  General readers; all levels of undergraduate students; professionals.”  (Choice, 1 August 2013)

"Did the U.S. government break the law when it seized control of American International Group during the financial crisis of 2008? In 'The AIG Story,' the man who built the giant insurer says that the answer is yes and explains his reasoning. Former AIG chief executive Maurice R. 'Hank' Greenberg—along with his co-author, Lawrence A. Cunningham—also offers a fascinating company history and an account of how, after Mr. Greenberg's ouster in 2005, AIG made the disastrous mortgage bets that drove it into the arms of the feds." (The Wall Street Journal)

"[A] strong, fast-moving and well-crafted book...In effect, there are two stories here, both well told: the first, the story of a man who dreamed the American dream and realized it through drive, determination, and adherence to principle; and the second, the story of what seems to be an evolving model, with government officials, always for political reasons, exercising what increasingly approaches operational control over American business. It’s to the great credit of Greenberg that he's never accepted the validity of the second and has devoted his life and great energies to keeping the first alive and well." (The National Interest)

"The early chapters of 'The AIG Story' trace the acquisition of its U.S. units and international expansion, and offer interesting anecdotes. The book also paints a clear picture of the hard-driving, profit-centered corporate culture Mr. Greenberg famously fostered at AIG." (Business Insurance)

"The AIG Story is well documented, telling of how the company virtually collapsed and Greenberg was pushed out of leadership. The book has much information to share with financial leaders to help grow a business and to protect the identity of a company during periods of economic downturns."—ABA Banking Journal

"The only first-hand account of AIG's rise and near destruction, this book is a compelling chronicle of one of the great business success stories of the twentieth century as well as a history of the evolution of global capitalism over the past six decades."—Continuity Risk & Insurance

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781118345870
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
01/29/2013
Pages:
352
Sales rank:
415,423
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
" Did the U.S. government break the law when it seized control of American International Group during the financial crisis of 2008? In 'The AIG Story,' the man who built the giant insurer says that the answer is yes and explains his reasoning. Former AIG chief executive Maurice R. 'Hank' Greenberg—along with his co-author, Lawrence A. Cunningham—also offers a fascinating company history and an account of how, after Mr. Greenberg’s ouster in 2005, AIG made the disastrous mortgage bets that drove it into the arms of the feds."—The Wall Street Journal

Meet the Author

Maurice R. Greenberg is Chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr & Co., Inc. He joined C.V. Starr & Co., Inc. as Vice President in 1960 and was given the additional responsibilities of President of American Home Assurance Company in 1962. He was elected Director of C.V. Starr & Co., Inc. in 1965, Chairman and CEO in 1968 and continues in that role. Mr. Greenberg retired as Chairman and CEO of American International Group, Inc. (AIG) in March 2005, after serving as Chief Executive Officer from 1967. Under his leadership, AIG became the largest insurance company in the world and generated unprecedented value for AIG shareholders. During the nearly forty years of his leadership, AIG's market value grew from $300 million to $l80 billion.

Lawrence A. Cunningham is the Henry St. George Tucker III Research Professor at the George Washington University Law School and Director of GW's Center for Law, Economics and Finance (C-LEAF) in New York. Previous books include Contracts in the Real World: Stories of Popular Contracts and Why They Matter (Cambridge University Press 2012). His writings—on a wide range of business and legal topics—have also appeared in leading scholarly journals and such periodicals as the New York Times, the Financial Times, and the New York Daily News.

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The AIG Story 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A real page-turner. Many interesting stories woven together to describe the building of a big international company at a time when there were few multi-national companies and years before globalization. Fast-paced. The stories unfold quickly from year to year and place to place with very interesting people and ideas. Eye-opening. Most people evidently have no idea what AIG really was from 1970 to 2005 when Hank Greenberg led it or what happened in a few years after he left that put AIG at the center of the financial crisis and made it a poster-child for how bad bailouts are. This book will correct a lot of misunderstandings and inspire new debate about corporate governance and financial regulation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Easily rate this book "Exceptional". An incredibly insightful account of a towering business figure of the 20th and 21st centuries. The sections detailing Greenberg's long-term  investment in key global markets, collaboration with the government on international trade rules for services, and approaches to multiple-layer financial control systems are worthy of case studies to benefit current and future students of management. Regarding Greenberg's "trials by newspaper" orchestrated by Spitzer, Greenberg certainly presents a much more believable case.  Finally, as a former CEO of a publicly-held company, I completely agree with Greenberg's assertion that form over substance in the boardroom is a very dangerous disease that is unfortunately spreading malignantly among American corporations. Much to our detriment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago