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Download Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America Audiobook, by Greg Farrell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (225 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Greg Farrell Narrator: Dan Woren Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2010 ISBN: 9780307751171
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The intimate, fly-on-the wall tale of the decline and fall of an America icon
 
With one notable exception, the firms that make up what we know as Wall Street have always been part of an inbred, insular culture that most people only vaguely understand. The exception was Merrill Lynch, a firm that revolutionized the stock market by bringing Wall Street to Main Street, setting up offices in far-flung cities and towns long ignored by the giants of finance. With its “thundering herd” of financial advisers, perhaps no other business, whether in financial services or elsewhere, so epitomized the American spirit. Merrill Lynch was not only “bullish on America,” it was a big reason why so many average Americans were able to grow wealthy by investing in the stock market. 

Merrill Lynch was an icon. Its sudden decline, collapse, and sale to Bank of America was a shock. How did it happen? Why did it happen? And what does this story of greed, hubris, and incompetence tell us about the culture of Wall Street that continues to this day even though it came close to destroying the American economy? A culture in which the CEO of a firm losing $28 billion pushes hard to be paid a $25 million bonus. A culture in which two Merrill Lynch executives are guaranteed bonuses of $30 million and $40 million for four months’ work, even while the firm is struggling to reduce its losses by firing thousands of employees.

Based on unparalleled sources at both Merrill Lynch and Bank of America, Greg Farrell’s Crash of the Titans is a Shakespearean saga of three flawed masters of the universe. E. Stanley O’Neal, whose inspiring rise from the segregated South to the corner office of Merrill Lynch—where he engineered a successful turnaround—was undone by his belief that a smooth-talking salesman could handle one of the most difficult jobs on Wall Street. Because he enjoyed O’Neal’s support, this executive was allowed to build up an astonishing $30 billion position in CDOs on the firm’s balance sheet, at a time when all other Wall Street firms were desperately trying to exit the business. After O’Neal comes John Thain, the cerebral, MIT-educated technocrat whose rescue of the New York Stock Exchange earned him the nickname “Super Thain.” He was hired to save Merrill Lynch in late 2007, but his belief that the markets would rebound led him to underestimate the depth of Merrill’s problems. Finally, we meet Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis, a street fighter raised barely above the poverty line in rural Georgia, whose “my way or the highway” management style suffers fools more easily than potential rivals, and who made a $50 billion commitment over a September weekend to buy a business he really didn’t understand, thus jeopardizing his own institution. 

The merger itself turns out to be a bizarre combination of cultures that blend like oil and water, where slick Wall Street bankers suddenly find themselves reporting to a cast of characters straight out of the Beverly Hillbillies. BofA’s inbred culture, which perceived New York banks its enemies, was based on loyalty and a good-ol’-boy network in which competence played second fiddle to blind obedience.

Crash of the Titans
is a financial thriller that puts you in the theater as the historic events of the financial crisis unfold and people responsible for billion of dollars of other people’s money gamble recklessly to enhance their power and their paychecks or to save their own skins. Its wealth of never-before-revealed information and focus on two icons of corporate America make it the book that puts together all the pieces of the Wall Street disaster.


From the Hardcover edition. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • "An exhaustive reconstruction of how Merrill Lynch & Co. sealed its own fate by
    becoming more bullish on bonuses than on America.
    James Pressley, Bloomberg
  • "Farrell weaves his facts into a story...piling detail upon detail to sketch the inner
    workings of Merrill Lynch, which he calls the Wall Street firm that made it possible for
    average Americans to reap handsome returns in the stock market. USA Today
  • "The...financial crisis's answer to Game Change--John Heilemann and Mark Halperin's
    tattle-filled bestseller about the 2008 Presidential election--Farrell shows that... seemingly trivial matters became the obsessions of Wall Street executives as the subprime contagion spread. BusinessWeek
  • “Immaculately reported…Farrell has found one of the biggest untold stories of the [financial crisis] drama. Financial Times
  • “Farrell tells a story based on hundreds of hours of interviews that builds like a hurricane. Forbes.com
  • Eminently readable and convincing...There's great value to be gained in the detail that Farrell reveals. Salon

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 12/30/2013

    " A very good book. If you want to get a play by play of what went wrong from the investment banker point of view and the impact of power, this book will interest you. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jerry Pierce | 11/17/2013

    " If you want to know who did what to whom, this is a good resource. I understand the collapse is due to individuals, but I don't really want to learn the details on just the people. I decided to move on to a new book and did not finish this one. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monicae | 9/30/2013

    " It was surprisingly readable. I don't know a lot about finance and this did help explain some things. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie Johnson | 1/20/2013

    " Very interesting read, but probably because I work for Bank of America and watched all of this go down from a different perspective. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dave | 10/8/2012

    " An easy, interesting read but could have used more explanation of some of the technical reasons why ML was in such trouble. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paul (formerly known as Current) | 7/16/2012

    " This book could almost be sold as science fiction as it takes us inside a world that is very different than the one that most of us live in, a world in which the people that animate the businesses that surround us move like titans and are just as destructive. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ethelwaldo | 5/7/2012

    " The Devil's greatest achievment is to convice humans he doesn't exist. Near-collapse is a fallacy of terms to justify a loan to be used to extend your grip and footing in the market with the urgency needed to bend regulatory failsafe mechanisims. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lianaperr | 2/15/2012

    " This book was of personal interest to me because of where I work, but overall a good story about how a company can fall apart. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Zachary Shrier | 9/22/2011

    " Terrific account of the collapse of Merrill Lynch in 2008. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pete | 7/20/2011

    " Fascinating look at the story behind the 2008 market crash. Interesting despite its subject matter, like a financial thriller, if that were possible. Well worth the read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Deborah | 4/3/2011

    " This is a easy book to read but gives still offers you a generalized view of the world of banking. If you want to have a better understanding of how the mortgage crisis led to the economic state we are currently in ...check this book out. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steven | 2/12/2011

    " This is a easy book to read but gives still offers you a generalized view of the world of banking. If you want to have a better understanding of how the mortgage crisis led to the economic state we are currently in ...check this book out. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Monicae | 11/19/2010

    " It was surprisingly readable. I don't know a lot about finance and this did help explain some things. "

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About the Narrator

Dan Woren is an American voice actor and award-winning narrator. He has worked extensively in animation, video games, and feature films. He is best known for his many roles in anime productions such as Bleach and as the voice of Sub-Zero in the video game Mortal Kombat. His audiobook narration has won him three AudioFile Earphones Awards.