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Den of Thieves

4.12  ·  Rating Details ·  7,061 Ratings  ·  143 Reviews
A #1 bestseller from coast to coast, Den of Thieves tells the full story of the insider-trading scandal that nearly destroyed Wall Street, the men who pulled it off, and the chase that finally brought them to justice.

Pulitzer Prize–winner James B. Stewart shows for the first time how four of the eighties’ biggest names on Wall Street—Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Martin Sie
Paperback, 592 pages
Published September 1st 1992 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1991)
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Steve Vockrodt
Jun 02, 2009 Steve Vockrodt rated it really liked it
If all it took was a major Wall Street scandal to bring down the center of United States financial institutions, it would have ended with the insider trading scandal covered in James Stewart's Den of Thieves. But as we're all too painfully aware, particularly in today's economy, greed and avarice continues to run amok among the investment banks, traders and law firms that make their bread on Wall Street.

As far as Wall Street crimes go, the insider trading scandal of the 1980s was not much differ
Jeff Swystun
Jun 22, 2015 Jeff Swystun rated it it was amazing
It was interesting to return to this book over twenty years after first reading it. For some reason I consumed the many tales of greed that were published at the time...Barbarians at the Gate, Mr. Diamond, Liar's Poker. A decade later there was the spate of books on Enron, Tyco, ADM. A few short years after that it would be the financial crisis that produced written works to explain the collapse of Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers and others. And let's not forget the Madoff saga.

Author Stewart asks
Jan 09, 2014 James rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, business
With all the scandal tarnishing the financial system I have always wondered if there is an inherently corrupting force in anything which can lavishly reward the most extreme personal greed or if it is a question of the regulators catching up with the financiers. In his account of the Milken and Boesky insider trading scandal that bookmarked the 80s, Stewart gives credence to both.

Stewart painstakingly lays out the principal actors, the actions they took, sins committed and what the consequences
Nov 04, 2011 Diane rated it really liked it
Great background from the 1980s for what is going on today (2011) in the financial markets. A wise professor has said that the needs of the financial markets to operate and profit now rival if not surpass our inclination to and institutions of democratic self-government. Witness the Greek government yesterday (3 Nov 2011) backing away from a referendum of the people (regarding their austerity measures imposed by financial powers in France and Germany) in favor of not upsetting the financial mark ...more
Feb 04, 2011 Mark rated it it was amazing
For those that remember the high-flying days of the 1980's Wall Street, or even remember the fictional Gordon Gecko of the 1987 MOVIE "Wall Street", this is a definite read.

In fact, Gordon Gecko was inspired BY the real-life characters of this book: Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky. Boesky even spoke at Berkeley in 1986 talking about greed, saying, "I think greed is healthy. You can be greedy and still feel good about yourself". This statement became the impetus of the memorable Gordon Gecko speec
Absolutely riveting account of a major insider trading ring in the '80s. I'd only heard bits and pieces about it in the past. Although the book is fairly old, it reads very fresh. Greed in finance is an evergreen topic of course. What I liked the most was the examination into the "why" of insider trading. What motivates each player to give into the temptation. Some it was greed. Others were trying to keep up with the Jones'. But with Milken, I never quite understood his motivation. He was brilli ...more
Aug 25, 2014 Walter rated it it was amazing
Many people remember the 1980s as the age of Reagan, Iran Contra and Raiders of the Lost Ark. But the decade was also an era of outrageous greed, as exemplified in the movie, "Wall Street". In the book "Den of Thieves", James Stewart describes the web of insider trading and other financial crimes that fueled the great Wall Street expansion of the 1980s. Stewart spends the first half of the book outlining the deals, the relationships and the insider trading networks that netted millions of dollar ...more
Jan 06, 2015 Rockstarwelder rated it it was amazing
An excellent read into the corporate greed factor of the 1980s. I really enjoyed the first part of the book dealing with all the different characters and their roles in insider trading, a lot of detail to understand but done so in a common-sense way. The second half of the book dealt with the prosecution of all the involved parties and gives an inside look at the workings of the justice system, was amazing to see that almost of the involved parties were able to plea down to take lighter sentence ...more
Gil Bradshaw
May 01, 2016 Gil Bradshaw rated it it was amazing
This is the mother of all insider trading/Wall Street expose books. Although riveting, it was complicated and filled with so much detail that this book took me forever to finish. It won the Pulitzer and became the blueprint for the entire genre and started a bunch of breakoff books and movies.

In fact, Ivan Boesky was the real life Gordon Gecko from the movie Wall Street. Gecko's famous "Greed is good" speech was taken from Boesky's 1986 Cal Berkeley speech where he said "I think greed is healthy
Omar Halabieh
Aug 15, 2015 Omar Halabieh rated it it was amazing
I recently finished reading Den Of Thieves - by Pulitzer Price Winner, James B. Stewart.

Below are key excerpts from the book that I found to be particularly insightful:

Even now it is hard to grasp the magnitude and the scope of the crime that unfolded, beginning in the mid-1970s, in the nation's markets and financial institutions. It dwarfs any comparable financial crime, from the Great Train Robbery to the stock-manipulation schemes that gave rise to the nation's securities laws in the first p
Sep 10, 2016 Jessica rated it really liked it
This book took me awhile to get through. Dense and a little tricky to keep all the people/businesses/relationships straight but the overall story was shocking. Insider trading between big names on Wall Street and their eventual demise. It was so interesting but also made me wonder how often this is going on under the radar. It made me feel like a lot.
Apr 29, 2015 Cybertraveller rated it really liked it
A must read for anybody related to finance. An incredibly detailed account of the wrongdoings in finance and the relatively mild consequences for the criminals behind it. Junk bonds were the machine to finance one of the largest M&A booms in history and destroy shareholder value and wealth. The moral behind all this for all involved: was it really worthwhile "screwing" so many people behind their backs. Did it matter whether they and their families have 10, 100 or 500 million on the bank acc ...more
Jan 05, 2009 Katie rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating look at the 1980's securities industry and reads like a thriller...
Jun 09, 2011 Themistocles rated it really liked it
A veritable thriller, choke-full of details that really put you on the scene.
Troy Blackford
Sep 03, 2014 Troy Blackford rated it really liked it
This book looks hard at the insider trading scandal of the eighties, and dissects the actions and motivations of all the key players. A brilliant and fascinating examination of the intricate and borderline incomprehensible swindles perpetrated by a group of junk bond traders, this book's only flaw for me was that I had a difficult time understanding many of the financial maneuvers employed by the perpetrators. Clearly, I'm not cut out for trading, insider or not. But this book was very well done ...more
Aaron Arnold
Jan 28, 2015 Aaron Arnold rated it it was amazing
As with all stories about high-flying 80s Wall Street players, Den of Thieves inspired in me that peculiar mix of disgust and envy - disgust for the unethical behavior and blatant criminality that these guys thought they could get away with, and envy for the amazing lifestyles and sheer balls they had. One of the main characters has a resume created for himself with a hilariously straightforward summary: "Dennis describes himself as a person who truly loves to do two things: do deals and make mo ...more
Jul 15, 2013 May rated it liked it
Shelves: finance
Den of Thieves depicts the 80's Junk Bond crisis blaming the entire incident upon 4 man characters, Ivan Boeskey, Marty Siegel, Dennis Levine, and Michael Milken. It's interesting to contrast this group to other book son the topic. It depicts more about the social lives and business approaches of these men, their work dedication and ethic shown in an obsessive way.

I have difficulty giving it more than 3 stars and even considered two. While they clearly did not follow compliance in their dealing
Oct 20, 2013 Denisa rated it really liked it
A fascinating albeit complicated read about the deeds of a handful of Wall Street investors, arbitrators, brokers and raiders. One definitely needs to have a good grasp of junk bonds and other financial instruments in order to get the full picture. I unfortunately am no one of them, but still found the book to be interesting, illuminating and very comprehensive in its descriptions of events and biographies that unfold in the span of half a decade. This book was a wonderful complement to Barbaria ...more
This is not my style of book. Here is why I read it: I was weeding books on the shelves in the library and came across this book (which has never been taken out ). When I saw that it was about Michael Milken (who founded the Milken Family Foundation which grants $25,000 to at least one educator in each state each year and I won the first year NH came on board), I had to read it.

The book explains how Milken and others used junk bonds and their Wall Street knowledge, savvy, and insider -trading to
Dec 02, 2007 Marnie rated it liked it
Recommends it for: financial junkies
This book follows the corrupt 1980's rise & fall of Wall Street's biggest insider trading ring in history, ultimately leading to the stock market crash in 1987. The four main men covered are Michael Milken, Ivan Boesky, Martin Siegel, and Dennis Levine. While different in their degree & manner of law breaking, the common denominator with them all is the inability to resist financial temptation. These were guys whose genius made them wealthy beyond what most can fathom, but for whom that ...more
Feb 02, 2015 Harmeet rated it really liked it
Book is about insider trading and Junk bonds 15 years back. Book describes the world of sleaze where collusion and junk bonds became dominant economic factors.
This book is divided into 2 parts - first part is the freewheeling years, followed by government take down. It describes people and reconstructs relationships. Book however did not leave me with a good understanding of how junk bonds could have became so dominant. I could not have thought of the magnitude till i read this book.
Mat Cendana
Aug 30, 2014 Mat Cendana rated it liked it
Shelves: review
This book is very well researched and reads almost like a novel. It's something like "Barbarians at the Gate" from the 1980s which was about the leveraged takeover of RJR Nabisco. Many of the characters in DoT are quite well-known, like Michael Milken and other junk bond, financial wheeler dealers. If you are curious to have a deeper look of Wall Street and the lives of the big-hitters, wannabes and failures, this book is recommended.
Jul 25, 2011 Tad rated it liked it
One of the great non-fiction writer/reporters in America, Stewart is the Bloomberg professor of business journalism at Columbia University. This book is among the reasons why Columbia would seek him out: The book is a culmination of the work he did with his deputy news editor at the Wall Street Journal covering the 1980s junk-bond scandals of Michael Milken and Ivan Boesky. He and the editor won the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory journalism for coverage of the 1987 stock-market crash. The book i ...more
Kevin Symmons
Sep 30, 2012 Kevin Symmons rated it really liked it
Not being a financial heavyweight when I was given this while recovering from major surgery I expected to be bored out fof my mind. On the contrary, I was delightfully surprised when after reading a few pages I found myself hooked. This is one those oft-referenced truth is stranger than fiction books. Reading the details of Michael Milken (since his release from a low-security government lockup like other phonies such as Charles Colson...he's found GOD... Gag me with a spoon!) and other scum lik ...more
Aug 16, 2016 Philip added it
Incredible is the only word that will describe the criminal misconduct by Wall Street brokers in the 1980’s insider trading scandal resulting in prosecutions centering on Michael Milken and Ivan Boetsky. This book is thoroughly researched and well written. And the story of greed and deception is amazing, and casts a new light on what is going on today. The book clearly deserves its Pulitzer Prize.
I'm about 20 years too late to read but hey...
Profit tacking, mergers & acquisitions, and hostile takeovers in the 80's all fueled by insider trading used to manipulate
and profit. Use of offshore bank accounts let investments bankers and arbigateurs invest and undermine the very companies that represent them. How bad does it go? Well, in 1986 Mike Milken received a 550 million dollar bonus. Yup, and that's just the above board profits.

Since the government really didn't stop offshore banking
Dec 20, 2015 Anthony rated it it was ok
I didn't want to read a chronology of the securities fraud investigations and ensuing law suits. I expected this book to go slightly deeper in explaining how Mike Milken pulled it off rather than saying he had 'complex schemes'.

Similar to many other books written by journalists, this book is entertaining and full of factual details but perhaps light on substance. I would've thought something over 600 pages is more than enough space to draw out all parts linked to the Milkens.
May 18, 2008 Suzanne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Like "Barbarians at the Gate" this book is all about the financial world in the 1980's, the "insider trading" , hostile takeovers, etc. fueled by competitive, unquenchable greed. For those old enough to remember, Mike Milliken and his junk bonds are part of this story. The SEC subsequently established rules making these types of abuses more difficult. Milliken went to jail. Eliot Spitzer tried to clean up Wall Street. Years later Martha Stewart was made the most public example of these rules vio ...more
Michael Trup
May 24, 2015 Michael Trup rated it really liked it
I am biased. I worked on Wall Street at the time so no doubt found the book more interesting than many others would have. Preferred Barbarians at the Gate, but no doubt this was a good read .
Andrew Stolowitz
Jan 15, 2016 Andrew Stolowitz rated it it was amazing
Very detailed, but in my opinion, ignored and/or did not address in any significant detail, those facts which would tend to exculpate certain key figures identified in the book.
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James Stewart is a modern-day muckraking journalist, covering everything from malpractice to fraud and law.

While at The Wall Street Journal, Stewart won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988 for his reporting on the stock market crash and insider trading. Stewart is a graduate of Harvard Law School and DePauw University. He lectures frequently on values and ethics in American business and politics. He is a mem
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