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The AIG Story

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Praise for The AIG Story

"The world has known Hank Greenberg as one of the major figures in 20th-century American business and as a man of strong principles who never wavered in times of crisis. This important book illuminates his remarkable rise, his transformation of an industry, and his thoughtful views on the upheavals of his era."

"The AIG Story is a riveting presentation of all that derives from exemplary leadership ...

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Praise for The AIG Story

"The world has known Hank Greenberg as one of the major figures in 20th-century American business and as a man of strong principles who never wavered in times of crisis. This important book illuminates his remarkable rise, his transformation of an industry, and his thoughtful views on the upheavals of his era."

"The AIG Story is a riveting presentation of all that derives from exemplary leadership and adherence to the best of capitalistic principles and respect for solid values.?? Alas, it is also a story of what happens when a craven corporate board is bludgeoned by government officials hell-bent on personal political gain with no respect for truth and justice. A must-read for anyone with entrepreneurial leanings and a desire to build a great business."
—KEN LANGONE, Co-Founder, The Home Depot

"This is the amazing story of how Hank Greenberg, considered to be one of the best CEOs of his era, built AIG—a great company with a market value that rose from $300 million in 1970 to $180 billion in 2004—and then sadly lost it due to a series of politically-motivated charges."
—JOHN C. WHITEHEAD, former Co-Chairman, Goldman Sachs and former Deputy Secretary of State

"A priceless history of innovative global enterprise, transparent corporate governance and the strength of personal character. With no cliché ?s, platitudes, simplistic recipes, or technical jargon, every page of this intelligent, fast-moving book brings readers fascinating insights into the foundations of contemporary global finance and the essence of courageous leadership."
—JEFFREY SONNENFELD, Professor and Senior Associate Dean, Yale School of Management, author of The Hero's Farewell and Firing Back

"Hank Greenberg's innovations, strategic mind, and bold vision helped to transform an entire industry and open markets all over the world. His story is a must-read on the development of the global economy."
—PETE PETERSON, Founder and Chairman, Peter G. Peterson Foundation and Co-Founder, The Blackstone Group

"The AIG Story is an engrossing tale of how Hank Greenberg, at the center of international business for four decades, built a global powerhouse. The story of this American icon, not without controversy and conflict, is must reading for anyone interested in business."
—MARIA BARTIROMO, CNBC Anchor and author

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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: 1/29/2013
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 352
  • Sales rank: 303,845
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

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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Table of Contents

Chairman’s Note xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xxi

Part One

Chapter 1 Independence 3

Chapter 2 Innovation 19

Chapter 3 Succession 31

Chapter 4 Vision and Culture 43

Chapter 5 The Internationalist 53

Chapter 6 Raising the Iron Curtain 63

Chapter 7 Opening Trade in Services 79

Chapter 8 Reopening China 95

Chapter 9 The Life Business 111

Chapter 10 The Domestic Front 125

Chapter 11 Investments 139

Chapter 12 Governance 149

Part Two

Interlude 167

Chapter 13 Hostile Change 171

Chapter 14 Restating History 189

Chapter 15 Civil War 203

Chapter 16 Saving the Starr Foundation 213

Chapter 17 Chaos 223

Chapter 18 Nationalization 243

Epilogue 261

Notes 265

About the Companion Web Site 309

About the Authors 311

Index 313

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Customer Reviews

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( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2013

    A real page-turner. Many interesting stories woven together to

    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.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2013

    Easily rate this book "Exceptional". An incredibly ins

    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.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 27, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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