Abhishek's Reviews > House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street

House of Cards by William D. Cohan
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's review
Dec 25, 11

really liked it
Read in December, 2011

While the Wall Street stories emerging post the subprime crisis are plentiful, reading about them at length may not always be captivating for the common man. And that is why each book is required to do something different, tell something that the previous book did not, fill in the gaps left in other stories. House of Cards tries to tell the complete tale of the rise and fall of Bear Sterns. And William Cohan does a pretty good job of it! The best part that I liked about the style of narration is that it starts off by explaining the last 10 days at Bear Sterns (remember the entity vanished in March 2008 after its sale to JP Morgan) and then rides back in time to talk about the three great Wall Street personalities who contributed immensely over an 85 year history to make this company the fifth biggest Investment Bank (and contributed as well to its eventual demise). The first part of the book is brilliant as the story moves at a solid pace keeping the readers on the edge of their seats as operations of each successive day becomes a question mark at Bear Sterns during its final days of existence. The second part describes the hard boxer-like culture of Bear Sterns, created over the years by the presence of personalities like Cy Lewis, Ace Greenberg and Jimmy Cayne at the helm of things. It is only in the final one-fifth of the book that the story starts to lose its appeal when it narrates too much about how the subprime mortagages and the eventual CDOs and CDSs came into being, which remains no longer a mystery, having been told and read by one and all. Barring for that portion of the book, the rest of the story is a must read for people interested in such financial stories... for there would hardly be anything more interesting than the tale of greatness and woe seen at Bear Sterns... RIP!
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