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The Predators' Ball: The Inside Story of Drexel Burnham and the Rise of the Junk Bond Raiders

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  1,910 ratings  ·  35 reviews
During the '80s, Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham created the corporate raiders. He was the billionaire Junk Bond King. But, in the corner stood the U.S. District Attorney waiting to file criminal and racketeering charges.
Paperback, 400 pages
Published June 1st 1989 by Penguin Books (first published 1988)
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Frank Stein

Of all the financial industry tell-alls of the 1980s, this has to be the most detailed and comprehensive. While writers like Bryan Burroughs, in books like "Barbarians at the Gate," focused on personalities and relationships, Connie Bruck peaked inside the intricate system of junk bond financing that Michael Miliken pioneered at Drexel Burnham Lambert, and explained how such subtle innovations as refinancing bonds and private placements led him to become the most richly rewarded man in the world
Jacob Wren
Connie Bruck writes:

In their 1985 annual report, the President's Council of Economic Advisers had weighed in with its conclusions, surprising only in their ambitiousness. They purported to settle once and for all the decades-long debate over whether takeovers are beneficial or harmful. This august council concluded that mergers and acquisitions "improve efficiency, transfer scarce resources to higher value users, and stimulate effective corporate management." The conclusion was remarkably defini
I read this book as part of an ongoing effort to read about all of the big financial crime prosecutions (I think I might like to be a federal prosecutor, hence the interest). The book tells the story of Michael Milken's rise to prominence at Drexel Burnham, his creation of the junk bond market, and the beginning of his fall from grace. I found the book a really thorough, and comprehensible, guide to this market and to what happened, which was great, and the research is comprehensive (Bruck also ...more
The Predators' Ball tells that story of corporate raiders, who were people that basically bought up companies that were not doing to well, revamped them and then sold them for profit. This tells the story of one of those raiders that got blindsided by lawsuits from the SEC for numerous financial crimes and subsequently saw their empire crumble.
I liked this book because it showed what can happen when people get wrapped in the guts and glory that is Wall Street. Most people would like think that
Extremely well-written. Presents the junk bond financing market's birth and its aftermath. In the 1970s and 80s, small & medium companies were hard-pressed to find financing for expansion. Banks were inclined to lend only to blue chip companies.

The junk bond financing was responsible for laying bare several things:
(1) the super cozy relationships between bank, broker & lawyer
(2) the insulated world of the blue chip companies - undervalued and under-utilized

At its best it would have be
Great book, though the author has an odd way of referring to herself as "this reporter" and may editorialize when she might be better to cite. The other shortcoming of this book is that it doesn't go long enough. It goes up to Milken's indictment, but not through his conviction, and it doesn't discuss the fall of RJR Nabisco, the junk bond market crash of 1989, the role of junk bonds in the S&L crisis, the bankruptcy of Drexel, or how and why the junk bond market survived. It would also be i ...more
Outstanding book that takes complicated material and a sensationalized era and makes it all contextualized, accessible, and clear. I hadn't realized how big a role fixed-incomes played in all that has gone wrong over the past thirty years, but Bruck makes it clear -- no less an analyst and commentator than Michael Lewis (Liar's Poker) stated as much to us when he conference-called with our Viewpoints class in February 2010. Bruck is the one who taught me how and why this is so.

She is equally goo
John Devlin
(2.8) a detailed analysis of the growth of high yield bonds in the 80's. Bruck examines the wisdom that these bonds created the money necessary for many midlist companies to expand, creating better economics across the spectrum of workers, managers and shareholders. Additionally, Bruck examines the notion that Junk Bonds were a way to free capital from the larger companies that had become insulated from the market and filled w/a new aristocracy of overly conservative managers wedded to privilege ...more
Peter Lindstrom
A short guide to the values of the 1980s & while he's not in the book, it will help you better understand Donald Trump, assuming you would ever want to understand him better
Boss gave me his copy to read. Finished it over the weekend. If there was a hint in his asking me to read it, then I am apprehensive of the future direction we will take at work
Jun 13, 2011 May rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: finance
The author did an immense amount of work and packed it into a piece that reads fairly well for a historical account. This is one of the more important stories to understand in light of today's issues. The rise of the Junk Bond raiders isn't just the rise of the Junk Bond era, it is the rise of how this type of debt made it to market and took off. It is a story that explains what- despite all of the news in the press against sub-prime - the purpose of this debt is (outside of lining the pockets o ...more
The book is a decent account of Michael Milken, who was the key figure in the junk bond market in the 1980s. The book is meticulously researched and goes into the events in great detail. What sometimes lets the book down is that the narrative lacks the story-telling excitement that are key part of the truly great books in this genre (e.g. Lewis, Lowenstein). Also the order of events can be a little bit haphazard at times and sometimes shuffles back and forth in time, leaving the reader to flick ...more
Bryan Taylor
The essential book on Michael Milkin, the junk bond king. The book made me sympathetic toward him, seeing that he did contribute a lot to financial markets, innovated and provide a service for which he was amply rewarded. Whether he was chosen to be prosecuted because he was outside the Wall Street in crowd, whether he desreved what he got is a matter of debate, but there have been others who have done worse, such as a certain politican from New Jersey, who have slid through. Maybe Michael Milki ...more
Don McNay
One of the best business books ever written.
I can see why this is a classic business book and certainly interesting to read when considering the whole debt crisis we went through just a couple years ago and are still feeling the effects from. This is another example of how little we learn from our own history and how predictable these cycles of loose money leading to questionable behavior leading to tightening of the money which takes us back to the beginning are. The characters change but the pattern remains the same.
I read this book about ten years ago, and I enjoyed it a fair bit at the time. Recently I have been mostly struck how it was a fairly good analogue to the recent financial crisis - low-rated bonds being re-securitised and sold as highly rated products. This seems to have been forgotten by the mainstream media, sadly, who's rigour when reporting on financial matters is... about as good as it is on computing matters :-/. Definitely a good read.
I was looking for a book that would give me a broad perspective on the junk bond controversies of the 1980s, and this book left me disappointed. It was too detailed and rambling for my purposes, and it lacked the vivid characterizations and drama of Barbarians at the Gate. The author relied heavily on quotes from Drexel's critics and Milkin's earlier public testimony and depositions to describe his activities.
"A fascinating portrait of how the ambitious Michael Milken took a second-tier brokerage and transformed it into a short-lived powerhouse by pushing high-yield junk bonds and using them to fuel the leverage buyout mania of the 1980s. Amazing how easily investors fell for his schemes that played on their greed. As usual, it all collapses in the end, but not before much damage was done."
Bob Glass
My disappointment and anger would be higher if I was writing a review when the book was written in 1988. Ironically this books seems rather out dated. What's the big deal? The people on Wall Street take advantage of the middle and lower class and get filthy rich in the process. And that's unfortunate for me because I'm in the middle class.
Big D
Jun 15, 2008 Big D rated it 3 of 5 stars
So far the book has been a great insight into the creation of the junk bond market of the early 80's, led by Michael Milken of Drexel Burnham. It requires a basic knowledge of finance and bond markets, otherwise the reader will get lost in the names and deal sizes. A little dense at times, but a great read nonetheless.
Jacob A.
Bruck showcases Milken's genius (and megalomania). It's fascinating how he rose from a floor trader in "fallen angel" bonds at Drexel's NYC office to the backer/underwriter for the extreme LBOs of the 1980s and the issuer of ever powerful "highly confident letter."
Brian Sobolak
The narrative was poorly constructed, and I had a hard time sequencing all of the events. A picture or two to show the timeline of events and how the distribution of the "junk" worked would have been good. But I did find it OK to read.
it's a short book but not an easy read however it is worth the 5 stars not because it is impossible to put down but because it is so informative and so comprehensive. if you want to leearn about milken and boesky, this is the book.
I love the beginning of the book, which chronicles Michael Milken's rise from relative rags to ridiculous riches. The middle is way too dry and detail-oriented to be interesting to anyone but the most finance savvy.
Leo Jacobowitz
The most exciting and most detailed book about finance that I've ever read. Connie Bruck is an absolute genius and doesn't dumb down the details to make the financial concepts more accessible.
Felipe Velasquez
too much of the author's opinion is inserted into the narrative...she leads you through the events with her own thoughts interected instead of allowing the story to unfold by itself.
Michael Milken and his buddies are no different than those Wall Street guys that got us into the problems we are today. The book is so true its depressing.
May 29, 2008 Robert added it
Michael Milken is stil somebody that I want to meet although he and his buddies got carried away.
This is a great book. It doesn't overly simplify the financial aspects of the story. I loved it.
Bibhu Ashish
If you want to know the nuances of how equity market works.this is the book
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