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Download A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample A Colossal Failure of Common Sense: The Inside Story of the Collapse of Lehman Brothers, by Lawrence G. McDonald Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (762 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Lawrence G. McDonald, Patrick Robinson Narrator: Erik Davies Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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.

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Quotes & Awards

  • ...gives the readers a visceral sense of what it was like to work at Lehman Brothers and the fateful decisions and events that led to the company’s death spiral... Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
  • Highly readable…A Colossal Failure of Common Sense largely rings true. It expresses the anger that many former Lehman employees still feel toward Mr. Fuld. And it convincingly characterizes the investment bank as a house divided against itself, between the bears who had foreseen bubbles and the bulls who wrongly believed that this time was different. The Economist
  • ... describes a CEO ­acting as if his firm was too big to fail. Wall Street Journal
  • ...poignantly told...from an insider [who] witnessed, often in amazement and disgust, the corporate dysfunction and hubristic leadership that led to [Lehman’s] demise. BusinessWeek
  • ...engaging and even funny. Fortune

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Manav | 2/13/2014

    " This book should have been titled "The man who saw everything..........in hindsight!". Our hero brings the flair of a porkchop salesman...in terms of sitting on the fence and the language to the scale of seven figures. He modestly calls it the inside story of the collapse of Lehman brothers but the story goes much deeper and reveals the inside thinking in the head of a wall street trader. Whether it is in the c-suite or at the floor, the trader never believes he is wrong. Every success turns into a maxim and failures soon forgotten. The nirvana is in staying positive no matter what happens. If everything is going south and you are still in the trade "you always hold on to your horses and never run for the barn door when everybody is rushing". If you chicken out, "never marry a bad trade". It is fate then which side of the balance sheet you end up on. The narrator likens the wall street's attitude to the subprime crisis as rushing in front of the train to pick up a 50 dollar bill. Seems true to the core...and yet one can't help admiring the courage of our hero who by sheer grit and ambition got on to the moving train only to find out that the driver is asleep on the wheel. Tirelessly he warns anyone and everyone that the train is gonna go down the cliff......his friends jump off with the loot but he stays on because it doesn't matter where you start but where you end. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Kim | 2/4/2014

    " Ok, so the author is no literary genius...but the material was fascinating and more than a story about the economic collapse, it is a lesson on leadership...or lack thereof. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Susanita | 1/30/2014

    " Excellent description of the market and what caused the collapse of 2008. I know more about securitizations and credit default swaps than ever before. The author is also a very good storyteller. It's easy to read and entertaining. Highly recommend. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Erika | 1/20/2014

    " I enjoyed it. I particularly liked reading about the efforts the author went through to get to wall street. It gives some great perspective as to what was going on behind the scenes leading up to lehman's failure. "

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