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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (8,684 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Andrew Ross Sorkin Narrator: William Hughes Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2009 ISBN: 9781101079607
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Andrew Ross Sorkin delivers the first true behind-the-scenes, moment-by-moment account of how the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression developed into a global tsunami. From inside the corner office at Lehman Brothers to secret meetings in South Korea, and the corridors of Washington, Too Big to Fail is the definitive story of the most powerful men and women in finance and politics grappling with success and failure, ego and greed, and, ultimately, the fate of the world’s economy.

“We’ve got to get some foam down on the runway!” a sleepless Timothy Geithner, the then-president of the Federal Reserve of New York, would tell Henry M. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, about the catastrophic crash the world’s financial system would experience.

Through unprecedented access to the players involved, Too Big to Fail re-creates all the drama and turmoil, revealing neverdisclosed details and elucidating how decisions made on Wall Street over the past decade sowed the seeds of the debacle. This true story is not just a look at banks that were “too big to fail,” it is a real-life thriller with a cast of bold-faced names who themselves thought they were too big to fail.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Andrew Ross Sorkin has written a fascinating, scene-by-scene saga of the eyeless trying to march the clueless through Great Depression II.”

    Tom Wolfe 

  • ...comprehensive and chilling... TIME
  • ...his action scenes are intimate and engaging... The New Yorker
  • Sorkin's prodigious reporting and lively writing put the reader in the room for some of the biggest-dollar conference calls in history. It's an entertaining book, brisk book...Sorkin skillfully captures the raucous enthusiasm and riotous greed that fueled this rational irrationality. The New York Times Book Review
  • ...brings the drama alive with unusual inside access and compelling detail...A deeply researched account of the financial meltdown. BusinessWeek
  • ...meticulously researched...told brilliantly. Other blow-by-blow accounts are in the works. It is hard to imagine them being this riveting. The Economist
  • Sorkin's densely detailed and astonishing narrative of the epic financial crisis of 2008 is an extraordinary achievement that will be hard to surpass as the definitive account...as a dramatic close-up, his book is hard to beat. Financial Times
  • Sorkin's book, like its author, is a phenom...an absolute tour de force. The American Prospect
  • Andrew Ross Sorkin pens what may be the definitive history of the banking crisis. The Atlantic Monthly
  • Andrew Ross Sorkin has written a fascinating, scene-by-scene saga of the eyeless trying to march the clueless through Great Depression II. Tom Wolfe
  • ...Sorkin has succeeded in writing the book of the crisis, with amazing levels of detail and access. Reuters
  • Sorkin can write. His storytelling makes "Liar's Poker" look like a children's book. SNL Financial
  • “Sorkin’s prodigious reporting and lively writing put the reader in the room for some of the biggest-dollar conference calls in history. It’s an entertaining book, brisk book…Sorkin skillfully captures the raucous enthusiasm and riotous greed that fueled this rational irrationality.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Comprehensive and chilling.”

    Time

  • “His action scenes are intimate and engaging.”

    New Yorker

  • “Meticulously researched…told brilliantly. Other blow-by-blow accounts are in the works. It is hard to imagine them being this riveting.”

    Economist 

  • “Sorkin’s densely detailed and astonishing narrative of the epic financial crisis of 2008 is an extraordinary achievement that will be hard to surpass as the definitive account…As a dramatic close-up, his book is hard to beat.”

    Financial Times 

  • “Brings the drama alive with unusual inside access and compelling detail…A deeply researched account of the financial meltdown.”

    BusinessWeek 

  • “Andrew Ross Sorkin pens what may be the definitive history of the banking crisis.”

    Atlantic Monthly 

  • “Sorkin has succeeded in writing the book of the crisis, with amazing levels of detail and access.”

    Reuters

  • “Sorkin’s book, like its author, is a phenom…an absolute tour de force.”

    American Prospect 

  • “Sorkin uses his considerable knowledge and skills as a business reporter to present a comprehensible chronology and analysis of this monumental event...[Hughes’] presentation is clear, with the straightforward delivery that such an intricate narrative demands. He achieves the necessary balance of a pace that is brisk enough to engage yet sufficiently measured to allow the listener to absorb the incredible amount of detail that makes Sorkin’s book so fascinating. This combination of a skilled author’s accessible text and a talented narrator’s performance makes Too Big to Fail too good to miss.”

    AudioFile

  • “Sorkin’s historical account of this critical time is highly recommended.”

    Library Journal

  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A 2010 Audie Award Nominee
  • An iTunes Best Nonfiction Pick
  • A Publishers Weekly Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Babieca | 2/2/2014

    " Great book with a detailed analysis of the difficult period that the US had when Lehman Brothers collapsed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Scott Walsh | 1/26/2014

    " I read this book because I recently started a new job with Citigroup and thought this book would provide useful background for me. I was not disappointed. What brings the book to life is its "behind the scenes" perspective, featuring reconstructed dialogue from supposedly private meetings among very senior participants in the events. Interestingly, my boss at Citigroup, who knows a number of current and former Citigroup executives who are mentioned throughout, tells me that they have confirmed that Sorkin's reporting is accurate. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bruce Collett | 1/24/2014

    " So that's what happened. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 DoctorM | 1/21/2014

    " There's a variety of military history sometimes called "maps and chaps"--- often vivid, well-researched, and well-written ---that tells you everything that happened in a given battle or campaign, but without any context in politics or social costs. Andrew Ross Sorkin's "Too Big To Fail" is a kind of maps 'n' chaps version of the Global Economic Meltdown of the Year Eight--- a vivid, well-researched, very well-written account of the events that led up to financial chaos in September and October of the Year Eight and culminated with the TARP program and the effective nationalisation of a number of major banks and brokerages. Sorkin takes us inside the boardrooms and the Fed, and conveys the sense of panic and desperation and frenzied emergency dealmaking of those weeks. But it's all a bit...abstracted. Sorkin never really explains why all this is happening. It's like an account of Bonaparte's career that never really mentions the French Revolution or its effects. Sorkin's heroes--- especially Hank Paulson at Treasury, Tim Geithner and Ben Bernanke at the Fed, and Jamie Dimon at JP Morgan ---dash across the pages making deals and fighting off disaster. But there's no real sense of what's gone wrong with the financial system--- no description of the monsters lurking out beyond Midtown Manhattan and what created them. Assuming that Sorkin's informants and interviewees are mostly truthful, the story is one without many obvious villains. Even Dick Fuld at Lehman comes across as more hapless and clueless than anything else, as does Lloyd Blankfein at Goldman. The heads of the great banks and brokerages do seem to care about their employees and staffs, but they only vaguely understand what's happened in the markets and never understand the depth of post-bailout populist anger. "Too Big To Fail" is about how catastrophe was averted, but it's a view that doesn't explain the reasons for financial collapse, and it doesn't look at the effects the meltdown had beyond the windows of office towers in New York. Sorkin has written a fine account of what happened in the autumn of 2008, but it's like battle history that's only about generals and their maps, with no context and no history. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stan Lanier | 1/19/2014

    " You'd think you were reading a thriller. ARS has done anyone interested a big favor in documenting these events. Not too late to educate oneself or review if you are more economically literate. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Ray | 1/18/2014

    " Andrew Sorkin must have done an amazing amount of research, as well as have had unlimited access to corporate and personal files in order to have compiled as much information about the banking crisis of 2008 as he did. Sorkin provides a detailed description of the players and the decision makers involved in the financial crisis and Wall Street bail out at the end of the Bush Presidency. What his book does NOT provide is a detailed economic analysis behind how and why the economy would have totally collapsed had the big banks and investment firms actually been allowed to fail. If you're interested in the personalities and the decision making relating to the crisis, you should enjoy this book. If you're looking for more of the economic analysis behind the crisis, other books relating to the financial crisis may be more satisfying. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grace2much | 1/15/2014

    " Great book and a page turner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 1/13/2014

    " Well written and dense with detail. Sorkin provides a window into the personalities behind the financial crisis. I see this book as complimentary to The Big Short which I enjoyed more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shandra | 1/9/2014

    " All I can say is wow! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Charlie | 11/26/2013

    " Overall, a good look into the events leading up the 2008 banking crisis. I appreciated the insight into the some of the day-to-day aspects of "high-finance" and the characters involved. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Omarquina | 11/12/2013

    " great book that gives an account of what went on behinds the scenes of wall street prior/during and the after math of the Lehman crash, if this book is combined with the big short and on the brink and depression economics, one can start to get a picture of the financial meltdown "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Janis | 11/8/2013

    " Could never pass a test on the cast of characters but it was a fascinating read. Showed how close the country came to a disaster and how we are all at the mercy of Wall Street and lax government oversight. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Keeciabroy | 11/8/2013

    " Fascinating - a must read "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jay | 8/8/2013

    " An interesting look at the incestuous world of high finance during the TARP era. A decent relationship-based crime drama focused on the world of socialism for the rich. *Spoiler* Sadly, the bad guys get away with golden-parachutes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kamran | 7/17/2013

    " One of the best books on the financial crisis of 2008. So good, a made for tv movie premiered on HBO. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Drewkosztyo | 4/23/2013

    " An intricately researched and grippingly written account of the 2008 financial crises. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Tamee | 7/30/2012

    " depressing, but provoking "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Raimo Wirkkala | 7/4/2012

    " A Bob Woodward-like "behind the scenes" account of the 2008 financial crisis and the Wall Street characters who made it happen. I'm not exaggerating when I say this book reads like a "page turner" type novel. The sad thing is that this crap actually happened. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kaloyan K. | 2/20/2012

    " Nice read, it pictures with a lot of details the events, the people and their emotions through what was the financial crisis. It doesn't deem Wall Street as a vilain but instead all the bankers and senior executives are the protagonists of this book. I really liked it. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Jennifer | 12/10/2011

    " Unnecessarily long, and way too detailed. However, it paints a vivid picture of the activities going on behind the scenes in the midst of the financial crisis. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jessie | 10/3/2011

    " Informative book for anyone interested in current events. A long and at times difficult to get into read though. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Scott Miles | 8/5/2011

    " Great presentation of a complex topic. I couldn't put this book down and finished it in a week. The book is written in the form of a novel and that really makes it easy to read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Greg | 7/19/2011

    " Listened to it as an audiobook. Thought it was interesting and enjoyed the narrative style as opposed to the straight facts of the usual non-fiction on the bailout I've read so far. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Steve Wolfe | 7/6/2011

    " Very comprehensive coverage. The play by play is amazing. Highly recommended for the insight into the behind the scenes drama of recent headlines. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stan | 6/20/2011

    " You'd think you were reading a thriller. ARS has done anyone interested a big favor in documenting these events. Not too late to educate oneself or review if you are more economically literate. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Raimo | 6/19/2011

    " A Bob Woodward-like "behind the scenes" account of the 2008 financial crisis and the Wall Street characters who made it happen. I'm not exaggerating when I say this book reads like a "page turner" type novel. The sad thing is that this crap actually happened. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laird | 6/15/2011

    " Frankly, not as good as the HBO movie but with delicious details. Reads more like a screenplay; could have benefitted from more analysis and, frankly, fingerpointing. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jenn | 6/12/2011

    " enjoyed the heck out of this...gives a really in-depth look at what went on in 2008, and explains the finance stuff in a way I could understand. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Laura | 6/7/2011

    " Well written, novel-like story telling of a potentially dry subject. Convinced me that government financial regulation is run by five white guys who all worked together at Goldman Sachs. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Danny Johnson | 6/6/2011

    " Loved it. Way better than watching Inside Job. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Isaac | 6/6/2011

    " You'll need a flowchart to keep track of the cast of characters and their business deals. However, the book does an impressive job of capturing the drama of the 2008 financial collapse. It left me genuinely worried for the U.S. and world economy even today. What a house of cards...
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Kamran | 6/4/2011

    " One of the best books on the financial crisis of 2008. So good, a made for tv movie premiered on HBO. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mary | 6/4/2011

    " andrew ross sorkin is a profoundly naive adult who sounds like a 12 year old when he writes. this book does provide a useful amount of historical perspective if you're into that. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Danny | 6/3/2011

    " Pure narrative with little analysis. Didn't really contribute to my understanding of the financial crisis. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Grace2much | 6/3/2011

    " Great book and a page turner. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rianna | 5/22/2011

    " If I knew more about macroeconomics, I would have enjoyed it more. Very engaging nonetheless. "

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About the Author
Author Andrew Ross Sorkin

Andrew Ross Sorkin is the award-winning chief mergers and acquisitions reporter for the New York Times, a columnist, and assistant editor of business and finance news. He has won a Gerald Loeb Award, the highest honor in business journalism, and a Society of American Business Editors and Writers Award. In 2007, the World Economic Forum named him a Young Global Leader.

About the Narrator

William Hughes is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator. A professor of political science at Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon, he received his doctorate in American politics from the University of California at Davis. He has done voice-over work for radio and film and is also an accomplished jazz guitarist.