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Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  3,002 ratings  ·  284 reviews
An insightful and devastating account of how Wall Street lost its way from an insider who experienced the culture of Goldman Sachs first-hand.

On March 14, 2012, more than three million people read Greg Smith's bombshell Op-Ed in the New York Times titled "Why I Am Leaving Goldman Sachs." The column immediately went viral, became a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, and
Paperback, 380 pages
Published October 26th 2012 by Grand Central Publishing (first published October 24th 2010)
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Dec 15, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book is terrible. A quick summary would read like this:
I did really, really good in school and got into Stanford.
I did really, really well at Stanford and worked really, really hard and got an internship at Goldman
I worked really, really hard at Goldman and got promoted.
I worked really, really hard at Goldman, aligned myself with the right people and got promoted again.
I kept working really really hard... and aligning my self with the right people, and I didn't really like where the industr
Daniel Clausen
Nov 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-of-2017
I sometimes read business books as a way of getting a business education on the cheap. This is a book I picked up for 100 yen and decided to read on a whim. And what an investment! (No pun intended).

I finished it in three days on the bus to work. The book is a fantastic read for anyone who is about to begin their career or who is interested in working in finance. The book is an honest and plainly written look at a career in the making. Though the book also tells the story of the decimation of Go
Dec 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading this book evoked nostalgia for me. As a senior at Princeton I remember having received my offer from Goldman Sachs and not knowing what doors the opportunity would open but knowing full well that I would embark on the next phase of my journey with the firm. My pathway mirrored Greg Smith's in some ways - we both worked in the securities division - he in sales and I in trading. And many of the firm's characteristics I could relate to. And I recognize Greg's frustration. But Greg's frustra ...more
Sep 26, 2019 rated it did not like it
Despite the largely mediocre reception this book received, I was nonetheless exited to read it. I thought that Smith was brave to do what he did. My usage of the term 'brave' is contextual; ultimately, I don’t allocate much of my empathy to a man whose primary interest for the time period depicted in the book was receiving an annual $1mil bonus. However, any criticism of Smith runs the very real risk of holding him to a standard that no other Wall Street executive is held to. I’ll concede that t ...more
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
While this is a story of a young man’s career in finance, it is also documentation of change in organizational culture in a premier American institution. It may be a representation of what happened on Wall Street in a brief 12 years.

Greg Smith had served as a GS intern and was thrilled to be among those selected for employment. He described the extensive training program, the long days, the Open Meetings, his peer group, the dress code and licensing tests (& how he took his on Sept 11, 2001). Sm
May 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a thoughtful, honest, and engaging read about a world I don't know about, nor plan to know about intimately. Smith's story is clear and easy to understand for for financially illiterate people, which I very much appreciated.

I think that this books requires an open mind in order for it to be appreciated. I looked at some of the negative reviews and those reviewers read this book with a predetermined hate for Wall Street, which defeats the purpose of the book. (In fact, those people are
Philip Clark
Dec 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Sadly, it wasn't the schadenfreude cum finger-pointing telling all that everyone hoped for after readying Greg's blistering op-ed in the Times. Replete with useless anecdotes about his girlfriend, parties, etc., the book ends up embodying the very thing that people dislike about Goldman and Wall Street: a highly privileged person sells you something that doesn't end up having the value you thought it would; you're left frustrated, and they make gobs of money. ...more
Paul Sharpe
Oct 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: finance, biography
First up, books like this are important. We need more insiders to come out and tell those of us on the outside what happened internally and why the markets crashed. We do need courageous people like this to speak out and explain to those of us deeply affected by the decisions of the elite few, exactly what happened and exactly how they managed to tank the markets and the economy in 2008. Also, they need to explain why we are still poised on the brink (with sovereign debt in the US and Europe sti ...more
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I thought this was going to be a cynical account of Greg's time at Goldman and an expose of corruption, but it was a very insightful look into what made Goldman Sachs great, and how that got lost along the way. I detected no bitterness or anger, but mostly an almost idealistic longing for Goldman to return to the purer pre-IPO days. ...more
Fred Forbes
Mar 12, 2017 rated it liked it
Evidently when my sister gifted me this book, she assumed I would be interested in the upper echelons of the financial services industry where Goldman Sachs has long reined supreme. Greg Smith tells of his years there and the change in their culture in his not so humble opinion, from trusted client servants to rapacious rip-off artists as the world went through the meltdown and turmoil of the great recession. I originally got into the financial services field 35 years ago when I discovered the C ...more
Kiridaren Jayakumar
May 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
A great book depicting how stressful and how ill can a job be, the author gave us a sneak peek into the life of a worker in Goldman Sachs,his life and struggles and so on.

In Malaysia, we have a few bank employees or fund managers like Izzuddin Yussof who left their job, however they have probably set passive incomes aside before they leave.

This book hits me directly as showing my personal choice was taken and how I'm going to utilise it now.

This book is sold, I highly recommend you guys to ge
Sep 22, 2022 rated it did not like it
Absolutely brain dead read
Jan 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
In March last year, Greg Smith published an article in the New York Times that outlined why he felt he could no longer work at Goldman Sachs. It went viral, becoming a trending topic on Twitter and there was even mention of it here in our own local newspaper. I remember it vividly because at the time I was deeply impressed - it is seldom that you see or hear of someone with this level of personal integrity. Smith’s article revealed the unsettling changes within his organisation, his growing dise ...more
Utkarsh Kumar
Jan 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
A great account of the author's (and the company's) journey as he joins GS as a Stanford graduate and climbs the rungs of corporate ladder, his fascination and awe of the GS culture and principles, and the eventual disillusionment as the company's and its people's fundamental priorities undergo a change. The narrative doesn't get boring at any point, I finished the book in couple of days. A great read for everybody who wishes to know more about the company. ...more
Shrut Patel
Very succinct introduction into the transition that many trading floors went through between the late '90s and today. The author is very evidently biased towards his views which deters from the effectiveness of the book, however an enjoyable read nonetheless. ...more
Priyam Roy
Jan 21, 2021 rated it did not like it
I honestly went into this book with almost zero expectations, and I was still somehow let down. The author is clearly a narcissistic toolbag, he misses no opportunity to reflect on his own self-worth and praise himself. If you take this book seriously, Greg Smith is the perfect employee, the perfect student, the smartest person in the room who is unable to ever make mistakes, and the best ping pong player in the world (lol I'm serious). I grew tired very quickly of Smith continuously banging his ...more
Marko Mekjavić
Jul 18, 2022 rated it really liked it
A fantastic introduction to the World of finance - Greg takes you on the journey into the heart of most prominent financial institutions and shares his perspective from the other side of the table, from the highs of the internet bubble, to the lows of 2008 housing crisis and European melt-down in 2012. The book provides marvellous explanation of the roles Investment Banks had played / play / and will play - from taking their clients' interest to heart to now forgetting and abolishing their fiduc ...more
Kalle Wescott
Jun 05, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I read /Why I Left Goldman Sachs: A Wall Street Story/, by Greg Smith:


South African Stanford grad Greg Smith interned at Goldman Sachs while in college, and then joined the firm upon graduation.

He eventually wrote an op-ed piece about why he was disillusioned with the firm and quit.

Essentially, Smith highlights Goldman's practices of selling axes to its whales (which @ Goldman they call muppets).

The best part of the book (from my viewpoint) detailed what i
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Interesting book. What appealed to me was how he dealt with the corporate politics. Anyone who has ever worked for a large company will immediately relate to the multiple bosses and politics of trying to advance in the corporate world. Oh, and how to position yourself to remain employed when the layoffs start because business is down through no fault of your own.
Mar 22, 2020 rated it liked it
3.5 stars. Solid book, relatively well written, about one man's experience and career at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street. I (a total novice when it comes to finance) learned a lot about the industry, the jobs people do there, and how firms are run. It was also interesting to read an insider's view of the 2008 financial crisis. The writing is nothing special, but the book held my attention and for the most part I followed necessary explanations of financial jargon. ...more
D.T. Henderson
I was assigned to read this for Business Law & Ethics.

Not bad though there is A LOT of filler, and, surprisingly, his NY Times op-ed is not included. But I liked how simple financial terms and Goldman Sachs practices were described.
Jacques Estola
Jun 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
"Experience shows that if we serve our clients well, our own success will follow. "

Pumped me up at work.
Jack Oughton
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
More fascinating insights into life inside one of the main drivers of the financial machine
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
Why I Left Goldman Sachs A Wall Street Story by Greg Smith

Having read Mr. Smith's NY Times Op-Ed, I looked forward to reading his experience in detail through this book. Unfortunately, I have been left ultimately disappointed as the book is light on details. No investigation as to where the turning point in the culture was, no explanation why he went along for the profitable ride for so long and how Goldman even justified its actions (could it?).

That said, there are certain demographics who should pick up this book. The first are aspiring bankers a
Aug 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Trying to learn, albeit later in life, what the world of investing is all about, I listened to Jack Bogle's Little Book of Common Sense on Investing -- twice. After that as introduction, I thought I'd give Greg Smith's audiobook a hearing as a follow-up. Why I Left Goldman Sachs turned out to be a very complementary companion read. The story is autobiographical, told by a gifted, recently graduated (Stanford, circa 2000), covering his 10+ years with GS.

Smith is quite candid about both what insp
Apr 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I have read this book thoroughly three times and would like to premise my review by saying that I am interested personally in the success story of Goldman Sachs and the aura surrounding the firm. However, I have no personal connection with Greg Smith or his former employer.

I have read so many reviews of the book where people state that Greg Smith "fails to provide specific examples" in the book. I want to address this comment only and the reviewers and interviewers that continually harp on abou
Dec 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
Made it 75% of the way through, but this book was terrible... Yan (another reviewer here) wrote:

A quick summary would read like this:
I did really, really good in school and got into Stanford.
I did really, really well at Stanford and worked really, really hard and got an internship at Goldman
I worked really, really hard at Goldman and got promoted.
I worked really, really hard at Goldman, aligned myself with the right people and got promoted again.
I kept working really really hard... and aligning
Madeline Roberts
Nov 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this fast-paced well-written book about Wall St. Something about which I know very little, the book has a glossary about Wall St. jargon and colloquialisms at the end. Although my work experience was in jewelry sales, and not derivatives, I understand his perspective about loving his job-- his loyalty to the company, the traveling and corporate culture, and THE annual Bonus. I had a very similar set up, so I can completely comprehend Greg Smith's conflicts. I appreciate Mr. Smi ...more
Joyce Kirk
Jul 20, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot about the world of high finance from this book and the pressures that people who work in that world face every day. How easy it must be to lose sight of what really matters in life. It's a fascinating tale of a change in organisational culture (for the worst) and the role of leaders in that process. For me it's a timely read with the proceedings against Fabrice Tourre getting under way and more revealing about what happened than any textbook could ever be. ...more
Dec 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-in-2016
I enjoyed reading it. It all made sense. It's always hard to keep the right amount of regulations all the time. The Wall Street hates regulation. It always fights back. Politicians don't have the political will to push back; therefore, they always choose the path of least resistance, which means DEREGULATION. Without regulation, these monsters will get more and more vicious. ...more
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There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. This one is Greg^^^Smith.

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