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Den of Thieves

4.1 of 5 stars 4.10  ·  rating details  ·  5,634 ratings  ·  125 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 M
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Paperback, 592 pages
Published September 1st 1992 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1991)
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Barbarians at the Gate by Bryan BurroughLiar's Poker by Michael LewisToo Big to Fail by Andrew Ross SorkinWhen Genius Failed by Roger LowensteinDen of Thieves by James B. Stewart
Business History
5th out of 127 books — 55 voters
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale CarnegieThe 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. CoveyThink and Grow Rich by Napoleon HillGood to Great by James C. CollinsGetting Things Done by David Allen
Best Business Books
134th out of 497 books — 829 voters


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Community Reviews

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Steve Vockrodt
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
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James
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
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Diane
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
Mark
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
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Walter
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
Rockstarwelder
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
Jeff Swystun
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
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Cybertraveller
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
Katie
This is a fascinating look at the 1980's securities industry and reads like a thriller...
Themistocles
A veritable thriller, choke-full of details that really put you on the scene.
Troy Blackford
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
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
May
Jul 15, 2013 May rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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Denisa
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
Kelly
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
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Marnie
Dec 02, 2007 Marnie rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
Harmeet
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
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.
Tad
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
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
Amy
I wouldn't have believed half of it if it were fiction. My grasp on the most intricate of the intricacies was tenuous, but it's really just a human story anyway. My second James Stewart, and the better, though not by too much. I want him investigative-journaling everything--go ahead and start with 2008.
Kurtbg
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
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Suzanne
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
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 .
Steve
Had no idea that much money was involved in M&As and junk bonds in the 80's. One has to wonder, after reading this book, how many people's lives were affected.
Aaron
This is the story of the emergence and explosion of aggressive arbitrage in the early 80's financial markets. It is worth reading because the current financial situation with hedge funds and equity firns has an eerie resemblance to the events written about in this book. I didn't think this book would be that interesting -- it's about finance, after all -- but the author's pace was quick, his explanations of the world of finance were lucid and clear to the laymen, and his portrayal of the amazing ...more
Marc
I vaguely remember the events this book describes--enough to experience a vague sense of discomfort when I encounter the names "Drexel Burnham," "Milken" and "Boesky" or the term "junk bond"--but never really knew what happened. Until I read this book. And man, it's an incredible story, assuming you're into white-collar crime and financial misconduct of the first order, as I am.

It's particularly interesting to read this book in the wake of the Rajaratnam conviction (and during the ongoing Gupta
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James Kaihatu
Excellent overview of the junk bond industry and the events leading to the 1987 stock market plunge.
Tyson Strauser
James Stewart's account of the story behind the junk bond craze and subsequent crisis reads as a precursory case study to the real "schooling" brought to Wall Street by the rise and subsequent fall of the mortgage financing market decades later. The book re-iterates the lesson too often observed through different periods of financial history: Value attribution becomes increasingly driven by "confidence" and not cash flow as the risk trade progresses. This book is an insightful and sometimes unfl ...more
Kate
So far so good - love me some good non-fiction.

Ok I finished it! Very well-written book about a pretty complicated topic - the rise of the junk bond craze on Wall St., how a ton of the money earned on junk bond trading was actually the result of insider trading prior to hostile takeover bids, and how the SEC and NY's Us Attorney's office built a case the brought down many of the major players.

I really liked it, and I think I know everything that I need to know to start a junk-bond insider tradi
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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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