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Publisher's Summary

One of the biggest questions of the financial crisis has not been answered until now. What happened at Lehman Brothers and why was it allowed to fail, with aftershocks that rocked the global economy? In this news-making, often astonishing book, a former Lehman Brothers Vice President gives us the straight answers - right from the belly of the beast. In A Colossal Failure of Common Sense, Larry McDonald, a Wall Street insider, reveals, the culture and unspoken rules of the game like no book has ever done. The book is couched in the very human story of Larry McDonald's Horatio Alger-like rise from a Massachusetts "gateway to nowhere" housing project to the New York headquarters of Lehman Brothers, home of one of the world's toughest trading floors.
We get a close-up view of the participants in the Lehman collapse, especially those who saw it coming with a helpless, angry certainty. We meet the Brahmins at the top, whose reckless, pedal-to-the-floor addiction to growth finally demolished the nation's oldest investment bank. The Wall Street we encounter here is a ruthless place, where brilliance, arrogance, ambition, greed, capacity for relentless toil, and other human traits combine in a potent mix that sometimes fuels prosperity but occasionally destroys it.
The full significance of the dissolution of Lehman Brothers remains to be measured. But this much is certain: it was a devastating blow to America's - and the world's - financial system. And it need not have happened. This is the story of why it did.
©2009 Lawrence G. McDonald (P)2009 Random House
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
1 out of 5 stars
By Susan on 07-28-09

First take: Tale of the narcissist

I almost gave up on this book because of the unnecessary autobiographical and self laudatory detail the author indulged in for the first 4 or 5 chapters. He's just soooooo amazing, how he single handedly pulled himself up by his boot straps and launched his own brilliant career. Isn't he just wonderful?!? It went on and on in this tone, "I'm just the greatest, amazing, how I overcame all these obstacles, like I'm the only person who ever worked 20 hour days ..." blah blah blah. 4 hours into it and not a word about Lehman experience yet. Profoundly disappointing and stupid. I will revise when/if I ever get through this nauseating thing.

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21 of 22 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Jairus on 08-02-09

Failure of Common Sense by the Publisher

Lawrence McDonald, former pork chop salesman, did his greatest selling job ever in getting Random House to publish this book. It is an auto-hagiography with some gossip added. It would be better published in comic book form because all the characters are either good or evil.
Not only is it an extremely tedious and boring book, it is very poorly written. I know that Patrick Robinson has written other books, but I hope they are better written than this. It is full of well worn cliches, but the worst part is the rampant metaphor abuse. Some of them go on for paragraphs and most are unoriginal.
There is no question that Richard Fuld made horrible management mistakes in the failure of Lehman Brothers, but this book certainly does not offer any real evidence. I hope someone like Michael Lewis, who can write and is not full of himself, takes on this important topic.
I have read scores of books on Wall Street and this is without a doubt the worst book on the subject I have ever read/listened to. It may be the worst book on any subject I suffered through.

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9 of 9 people found this review helpful

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