Extended Audio Sample

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 Audiobook, 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: July 2009 ISBN: 9780307702425
Regular Price: $20.00 Add to Cart
— or —
FlexPass™ Price: $17.95$5.95$5.95 for new members!
Add to Cart learn more )

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.


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

BK_RAND_001903

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 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 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 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 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. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amanda | 1/19/2014

    " If you're interested in trying to understand the collapse of Lehman Brothers and subprimes in general, this book gives a pretty interesting background without being too finance-heavy. Two things to know about the book-- the first half is focused on the author's life prior to Lehman, so it's more of a biography than a strict chronicle of events. Also, the story is very much told in the first person by an insider, so you get the distinct feeling that there are some built-in biases-- this is not a purely objective account. But enjoyable to read. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kate | 1/14/2014

    " More like a biography of Larry McDonald "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tom | 1/6/2014

    " A fascinating insider's tale from before the onset of the financial collapse. I enjoyed this intriguing interior view of a complex yet overtly foolish groupthink failure. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ray Allinson | 12/3/2013

    " A good story, told by someone who knows about Wall Street. I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in money - and that has to be all of us - and how the so-called financial whizz-kids gamble with OUR hard-earned cash! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 11/9/2013

    " A great recap and insiders perspective into the the demise of the housing market and the downward spiral of the markets that followed. Easy to understand a quick read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Vibin JK | 11/8/2013

    " The author's so full of himself and the book is a narcissistic one, unabashedly glorying bankers as if they were the greatest beings on earth. It tells a good story too (and at times too much of banker-speak) but it's an interesting read about raw greed though. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dennis Chiuten | 5/18/2013

    " Entertaining, but very melodramatically written. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Emma Fulton | 4/28/2012

    " While written with all the arrogance of hindsight, if you can overlook the author's "I told you so" attitude this is a compelling and approachable telling of the Lehman story. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michael Diaz | 3/4/2012

    " McDonald has a very high opinion of himself. I understood this story better by watching An Inside Job and Too Big To Fail "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Antonio | 11/17/2011

    " Informative read, McDonald was able to educate as he went along so as a layperson I was able to keep up nicely. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Aharon | 11/16/2011

    " Crazily written, and as self-serving as Orson Welles at an Old Country Buffet. But oddly compelling, like OCB itself. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aaron | 10/22/2011

    " A bit rambling but an interesting insight into the lifestyle and thinking of the high ups in investment banks. Lots of hindsight here so it's hard to know how truthful the account is but nonetheless interesting reading. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Asuka | 7/7/2011

    " Really interesting, but a bit too hard for me to get my head around it. Finances is definitely not my strength... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Springtxman | 6/27/2011

    " A bit of a rant, but interesting insight into the root cause of the financial collapse. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ruth | 6/16/2011

    " Interesting insider's account of the failure of Lehman. It doesn't attempt to give the whole sweeping analysis of the failure, but just one fascinating perspective, although the lack of humility by the author is somewhat irritating at times. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erika | 5/1/2011

    " 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laritza | 3/21/2011

    " Absolute great book. Highly recommended for those of us that wonder about the economic collapse and have no clue on how to find out. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chezscoville | 1/18/2011

    " I enjoyed this book. It wasn't a blameless book pointing fingers at everyone and no one.

    It came across as honest and open, maybe a little protective of the author.

    "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Erik | 1/11/2011

    " A great overview of what caused the recession. A story of what you can achieve when you work your ass off. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ghost14 | 12/29/2010

    " My first book involving the inside view of the global financial crisis. So far so interesting. Reading in Progress .... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Farhan | 12/6/2010

    " Not as good as Too big to fail, but still a really easy read talking about the financial melt down inside Lehman. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kim | 11/24/2010

    " 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. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 9/16/2010

    " If you don't know anything about the financial market, this is a good start--I am understanding the reasons that led up to this financial crisis we're in. Just a note that it does have harsh language. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Chris | 8/15/2010

    " like the title says, larry was inside lehman, and that point of view alone makes this worth reading. "

Write a Review
What is FlexPass?
  • Your first audiobook is just $5.95
  • Over 90% are at or below $12.95
  • "LOVE IT" guarantee
  • No time limits or expirations
About the Author
Lawrence G. McDonald is a managing director of Pangea Capital Management LP. He was, until 2008, vice president of distressed debt and convertible securities trading at Lehman Brothers. He ran an extremely successful joint venture between the firm’s fixed income and equity divisions and was one of Lehman’s most consistently profitable traders.
About the Narrator

Erik Davies is an accomplished audiobook narrator and voice-over actor. His stage credits include G.R. Point, Unpublished Letters, and Flats Fixed. Some of his television and film appearances include ER, Third Watch, and a starring role in the hit indie comedy High Society: A Pot Boiler. His audiobook narration has won three AudioFile Earphones Awards.