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Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World
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Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World

3.78  ·  Rating Details  ·  878 Ratings  ·  54 Reviews
The bestselling author of the acclaimed House of Cards and The Last Tycoons turns his spotlight on to Goldman Sachs and the controversy behind its success.

From the outside, Goldman Sachs is a perfect company. The Goldman PR machine loudly declares it to be smarter, more ethical, and more profitable than all of its competitors. Behind closed doors, however, the firm constan
Paperback, 672 pages
Published January 10th 2012 by Anchor (first published January 1st 2011)
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Nov 10, 2012 Meera rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cohan has done a remarkable job by providing a blow by blow account on the history and influence of Goldman Sachs ever since the firm's birth about 142 years ago. The company's history is filled with conflicting interests, events, and intense emotions. “Goldman Sachs has been both envied and feared for having the best talents, the best clients, and the best political connections, and for its ability to alchemize them into extreme profitability and market prowess.”

The saying "It takes a lifetime
Ranjeev Dubey
This work sets out to write a definitive history and given its expansive ambition, we end up with a very long work. Does it achieve its aim? I guess so. Largely. Obviously, material is hard to come by about the early years and we should be grateful for what we do get i.e. stories about GS people rather than about GS. Of course, when Cohen hits the period after the great war, the book becomes more data dense.

Having said that, what of the reading experience. For most people, at the end of the day,
Andreas Novio
Oct 30, 2011 Andreas Novio rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book about an amazing company. I have read two other books about GS and this is superior in terms of (i) comprehensive coverage of the firm's history, (ii) balanced and yet undiluted accounts of the bad behaviours in the firm's history and (iii) clear description of the firm's culture, its evolution and the personalities that shape it from the founding family, Sydney Weinberg, all the leaders up to the current CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

Reading this book educated me about the Street's history as
Mar 30, 2012 J.L. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After reading this book, I am not sure how Goldman Sachs has any clients left. Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World is the history of this white-shoe firm from its inception through 2008. As the investment bank that other firms aspire to be, this book is a peek behind the curtain of how Goldman Sachs really operates.

In the late 1970s, a partner named John C. Whitehead developed the “14 Principles” that purportedly guides the company still today. The first principle, “Our cli
Ian Robertson
Dec 31, 2014 Ian Robertson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Goldman Sachs (GS) has become iconic, attracting both superlatives and expletives. To members of Wall Street they are the pinnacle; to Rolling Stone Magazine they are “a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity.” According to business author William Cohan, “The firm’s inexorable success leaves people wondering: Is Goldman Sachs better than everyone else, or have they found ways to win time and time again by cheating?” Cohan answers in a comprehensive, compelling, and insightful bo ...more
John Hibbs
Jul 21, 2011 John Hibbs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read Cohan's earlier work on Lazard Freres and greatly enjoyed it, so I decided to take the plunge on his investigation into Goldman Sachs, arguably one of the most powerful financial institutions that ever existed.

This is not really a Goldman "bashing" book but there is plenty of hard reporting that lead one to wonder how Goldman can get away with proclaiming itself to be a temple of team play and a firm where customer interests always come first. Team playing culture? Cohan gives you detail
Dan Petegorsky
Cohan’s latest book provides many valuable insights and stories about how Goldman works, though the title is misleading: it deals almost entirely with Goldman’s business strategies, and very little with its political/policy strategies (i.e., not very much on the “power” side). And, as usual, he focuses almost entirely on the internal workings of the firm. This is both a strength and weakness: a weakness because the book’s scope is very narrow, a strength because of the window it provides into th ...more
This is a company history of Goldman Sachs, brought up to date through the financial crash and its aftermath up until about 2010. In the first three quarters of the book or so, the story parallels that of the Charles Ellis book on Goldman (The Partnership). During this stretch, the overlap is about 80% or so with Ellis and the story makes for a very good read, whether you like Goldman Sachs or not. The last quarter of the book is fairly effective in discussing the role of the firm in the trouble ...more
Kirk Houghton
May 26, 2016 Kirk Houghton rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If History is written by winners, then memories are also biased towards its survivors. In a hundred years from now, Bear Stearns, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual and Wachovia will cease to exist in the footnotes to the history of the 2008 banking crisis. Instead, people will remember Goldman Sachs as the bank that profited while other Wall Street titans perished. Indeed, the evidence eight years after the near-implosion of western capitalism suggests the process has already begun. So why does t ...more
Dio Aufa Handoyo
May 30, 2015 Dio Aufa Handoyo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interestingly, the book grows more and more complex as it progresses, as if to reflect how the financial world (and by extension, Goldman's operations) grows more and more complex over time.

This is rather evident from the discrepancy between the relatively familiar & simple phrases used in describing the Weinberg-Levy-Whitehead era (i.e. professionalism, client service, values, traditional I-banking operations) and the seemingly incomprehensible phrases used in later chapters (i.e. syntheti
Jun 09, 2011 Mary rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I am amazed at how William Cohan can take a topic as dry as the finanial crises and make it read like a novel. I'm up the part where Jon Corzine takes over. But now that I've finished the book I have to say that I guess I just wasn't that interested in Goldman Sachs.
Money and Power is an overly long history of the Wallstreet firm Goldman Sachs. Overly long because this history reaches back into the 19th Century and spends forever getting to the corruption and malfeasance of Goldman which may date back as far as the '70s, though truly begins in the '90s.

If you are interested in a exhaustive history of the company and a detailed analysis of what they did wrong and right leading up to the Credit Crunch and Derivatives implosion in 2007-08 this is the book for
Feb 21, 2016 Munkoo rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Older parts were good about how GS came to be what it is
May 22, 2014 Evan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
This book was a pretty good history on Goldman Sachs. It was interesting to learn about how they got started and how the Sachs eventually forced Goldman out. Learning about every leading partner was a bit tedious, but it was still well done.

I have read the Big Short, and this was very complimentary. I liked the Big Short better because of Michael Lewis's wit. Overall, it seemed to be well done, but I would recommend Lewis's book first. If you are interested in Goldman Sachs for more than the hou
Matt Lee Sharp
Jun 14, 2015 Matt Lee Sharp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, economics
i may definitely check out more books from william d cohan. this book was pretty much what i was hoping for. a thorough account of the history of goldman and an enlightening look into the financial crisis of a few years ago. this crisis was at once something new and something we've seen many times before.

what kept me engaged were the personalities. cohan does a good job of deconstructing some of the myths surrounding early goldman sachs employees and does an even better job of capturing the ess
Dec 18, 2011 Mauimom rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good, but it could be better.

The writing is quite good, and the book is a detailed narrative on the history of Goldman Sachs. Interesting that they have been cutting corners, screwing clients and competitors, and skirting or breaking the law for decades.

However, the book's shortcoming is that the author is WAY to kind towards GS, exhibiting little outrage over their nefarious, greedy behavior. Cohan seems to assume "that's just the way it is," and evidences little moral judgment or condemnation.
Anandh Sundar
May 17, 2011 Anandh Sundar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first began reading this book, I thought it would be another complimentary bromide like a well known book on GS 'The Partnership'. Thankfully, this book(though somewhat boring at times) draws on history, interviews and analysis to show that though Goldman Sachs is now accused of putting clients interests last, using sacrificial scapegoats, leveraging Govt/Board relationships etc; all these have been a DNA of the firm for atleast the last 30-40yrs.

The book did get boring towards the end(i
Aug 26, 2012 James rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finance
I'd forgotten I'd read an earlier book by this author,
it was a dog too.

Over 600 pages with the story starting in the 1840's.

Half the book is about stuff from more than 20 years ago
when GS was an entirely different company.

A partnership instead of a stock owned company,
an investment bank that advised clients and raised money for companies.

Now GS is a blood sucking vampire squid that sucks the money out of America mostly by trading for its own account.
At the expense of anyone who happens to
Jul 02, 2011 Sean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall this book was extremely interesting, and managed to truly paint Goldman Sachs as neither an "evil company" or one "doing God's work", truly leaving such determinations up to the reader based upon the provided information and context. For me it was a very revealing light into the machinations that are our banking and finance institutions. And though there were a great number of tedious parts, considering the subject matter and my relative ignorance of it, I think both the author and narra ...more
Roberto Hortal
Feb 26, 2016 Roberto Hortal rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Terrible book where opinion and judgement supplant data too many times. Decided to put it down after dragging myself through more than half of it.
Matt Rose
Dec 12, 2015 Matt Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good history of the stories firm. As with most of these books, it's too heavily weighted to recent history. But good nonetheless.
Jap Hengky
Nov 15, 2015 Jap Hengky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Goldman and Morgan Stanley transformed themselves from securities firms into bank holding companies. This is where the controversy goes.
Long long book that chronicles the full history of goldman sachs. I found many parts of it very boring, and wasn't sure i'd make it through to the end. After about half of the book, however, it became much more interesting to me as it focused on the last 20-30 years which is much more relevant to the existing banking system.

The chapters on how goldman avoided the massive pain from the financial crisis were awesome. Cohan used excerpts from a ton of internal goldman e-mails to narrate the mortgag
Kirk G. Meyer
Oct 21, 2015 Kirk G. Meyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was a well written account of the history of the Goldman Sachs investment bank. It did detail the ruthlessness of the industry and how that built the culture within Goldman. If you want to know more about this company and some of the key players in its history this is a good read for you.
As someone who has been indoctrinated by the GS ethos in the past, I can empathize with the characterizations of those who are successful there and those who are not. The history was important, the sphere of influence was frightening and the firm's ability to make money in both boom and bust was nothing short of impressive. Unless you like reading about the sometimes questionable practices of top banks and understand how little the little people matter in high finance, this is probably not the b ...more
Jeff Merkle
tl;dr ... well not really, but too long for sure
Jared Axelrod
Interesting, but not great
Sam Dye
Aug 27, 2011 Sam Dye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I now undertand how this company can sell junk mortgage securities to customers at the same time and unknown to the buyers that it was betting against (selling short) them. It is a money making machine and in this well researched book it tells how the company has evolved away from it's "14 principles" of ethical behavior. It is very well written and you get to know all the main players in the company and the close connection to the government.
Feb 10, 2013 Alex rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-finance
Great history of one of the key players in the US/world banking industry. An informative inside look both at how the industry operates, including the many conflicts inherent in the related and competing businesses, as well as the personal side of how such a competitive and high-flying firm actually operates - and how that has served it both well and poorly when going through different experiences in Wall Street history.
Jan 11, 2014 Tom rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mildly interesting but I had to force myself to get through it at points. No serious insight but interesting tale of how a world class business was built.
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William David Cohan (born February 20, 1960) is an American business writer. He has written three books about business and economics and is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

Prior to becoming a journalist, he worked on Wall Street for seventeen years. He spent six years at Lazard Frères in New York, then Merrill Lynch & Co., and later became a managing director at JP Morgan Chase. He also w
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