The Devil's Casino: Friendship, Betrayal, and the High Stakes Games Played Inside Lehman Brothers
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The Devil's Casino: Friendship, Betrayal, and the High Stakes Games Played Inside Lehman Brothers

3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  190 ratings  ·  31 reviews

The inside story of what really happened at Lehman Brothers and why it failed

The fall of Lehman Brothers has been one of the most controversial and debated topics of 2008. Was it the great mistake of 2008, and the catalyst for the credit crisis that has spun out of control? Was it just a matter of moral hazard or was it in fact the cumulation of a series of mistakes made

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Hardcover, 296 pages
Published April 12th 2010 by John Wiley & Sons (first published 2010)
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Mal Warwick
Following Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail and arriving on bookshelves the same month as Michael Lewis' The Big Short, Vanity Fair writer Vicky Ward faced an uphill slog with the publication of The Devil's Casino. Thousands of readers no doubt assumed the book was one more of the dozens of volumes that purported to offer explanations for the biggest financial collapse in 70 years of world history.

That assumption was wrong. As Ward herself goes to pains to note, The Devil's Casino was an inti...more
Leah
Perhaps, it is my personal experiences with the financial industry that color my perceptions of this book or maybe the tale in it is so familiar now, when we feel it should not be, that I am tired of it and its very real implications. Devil's Casino tells the tale of Lehman Brothers from its early days up through 2007 when the mortgages began to sour. This book is a mix of facts and figures mixed with the personalities and interpersonal structure of the company. I feel like, had I read this a fe...more
Michelle
It was sad to see how friendship and striving to create a better business morphed into greed and the need for power. It was sad to see how seemingly good people let go of their moral code and beliefs and turned into people they didn't want to be. I would not be surprised if this path is what led to the housing situation and the total mess our economy is in now. Bad choices, greed, and power. I often wonder how many of these powerful and successful people started their careers as totally differen...more
Emily
Two words, Name Soup! This book was written like the un-cool girl in a school who tries to impress everyone with her knowledge of what is going on with the cool kids. It was a list of names and anecdotes that leaves the reader sighing, "who cares!" The author never develops any plot with the numerous characters she name drops. I would not be surprised if the only people to like this book were insiders to Lehman Brothers. The same way an insider reflects fondly to the anecdotes contained within h...more
Sambath
it was very interesting at the beginning but as u go through the pages u wud realize that there r way too many names and there is no real plot at all. just names names names and random incidents which doesn't give any sense to the plot( if u can guess one). At many places the author has repeated the same point but different words. def. She has ran out of ideas at mid way and stretched the whole book to give at least some pages to print....only Lehman bros people(EX of course) may enjoy...
Biz
Nothing new here- People are greedy and stupid. The first bit of the book was a rehash of old stuff. Also, Stefan noted there were a number of factual errors when he read over my shoulder. For instance, Christian Meissner, who happened to be his old boss at Goldman, is AUSTRIAN, not German. If you want a good book about Wall Street, Liar's Poker or Barbarians at the Gate are MUCH better reads.

You can read the related Vanity Fair article and skip the book.
Long Nguyen
Read the book for a class project. About as engaging as the topic can be, though this one took a very personal look at the players at Lehman Brothers and beyond as the financial meltdown (and before during the good times) commenced. Though it may seem incredulous, one can walk away feeling sorry for some of the players of this terrible game. When a friend turns out to be something else, it is a pain all too real and universally understood.
Mauberley
If you have read any business books, you will immediately recognize the creatures who populate this one - shrieking, viciously competitive vulgarians whose sole aim at work is to maximize the pool from which their stupifyingly large commissions will be drawn. Ward is a good writer but her attempt to portray Chris Petit as "flawed but saintly" didn't really persuade me. Interesting but by no means essential reading.
Steven
The first half, which is essentially a history of modern day Lehman, is pretty interesting. Ward does a nice job of explaining how it was Chris Pettit who actually made Lehman, not Dick Fuld. The second half, which explains Lehman's fall, missed the mark for me and seemed to lack the insightful information I expected. For a crash course on Lehman, it is a good book.
Dave
Ward has high ambitions for the book. She wants to cover a long period of time, understand the personalities of the major players, and explain the technical information. She doesn't quite pull it off. I got the sense that her book was guided more by who she was able to interview than any grand narrative. Thus, the book has a bit of a patchwork feel to it.
Jonathan Shore
Probably the best book post-Lehman collapse. Unlike other authors she was able to interview past senior management and paint a more complete / compelling picture of the individuals in management that shaped the company, from the early days, post glucksman to the fall. At the same time the book is well put together and entertaining.
Antonio Simoes Pinheiro
A different perspective about the character's and event's that led to lehman's collapse. A more human sided approach, focusing on the people who've run LB than the financial and economic facts. Should be complemented with "too Big to Fail" for a much broader perspective.
Linda Schwartz
I read an excerpt of this in Vanity Fair and decided to read the entire book. However, the only really interesting parts -- from my point of view -- were the parts published in the magazine. Save yourself some time and money and dig up the Vanity Fair issue.
Tritocosmikos
Poorly written, flat and with tons of useless information. Perhaps harlequin books lost a golden opportunity to add this in their collections. However i managed to finish it as an exercise of patience. What a waste of time!!! At least i lived to tell my experience.
Subu
written in the form of a story...abstracts you from the finacnial nity gritties :) but at the same time well worth a read if you have a financial background...it can be considerd as a prequel for 'Too Big To Fail'
Victoria
This was interesting. The dollar figures are staggering and when you consider the cavalier attitude these people have about money it is kind of scary. Greed really did drive the fall of Wall Street.
Jim
Fascinating book! A highly readable account of the excesses of Wall Street of recent years, leading to the demise of Lehman Brothers. A monumental research job on a highly complex subject.
Barbara Duvoisin
Quick read. Interesting bit of business history. Learned more about Lehman Bros, but mostly about the dynamics of managing people and making good/bad decisions.
Aga
A look into the corporate world's greed and ruthless dealings. I quite enjoyed broadening my understanding of the events underpinning the beginnings of GFC.
Joani
Fascinating reading. A thriller at the end, even though I knew how it turned out. I am disappointed that "the rest of the story" may never be written.
Tom Armstrong
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It's obviously only one data point, but it painted a fascinating picture of both Chris Pettit and Joe Gregory.
Christine
a rather frilly read that focuses more on the greedy personal lives than what prompted lehman brothers to fail
Eliza
Gossip, gossip and gossip!!!Names, names and names...their vacations, hobbies and relationships. Nothing more!!!
Amy
didn't finish it. people like it, but too many characters and to be honest, I just don't care about these guys.
Brian
I really liked this book, Lehman was personal for me, it affected my business dramatically and personally.
Lsheehan11
not a pretty picture of the banking. greed was rampent and histry will show it is not a successful motivator
Melissa Connolly
Hard to follow but still a powerful tale of the personalities in one of Wall Street's biggest failures.
Jim
Great if you are into big egos playing with each other OR if you worked for Lehman back in the day.
Karen
LOVED IT. then again, I'm all into the financial crises and it's behind the scenes explanations.
Leigh Grady
Confirmed in my mind that these Wall Street folks make way too much money
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