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Den of Thieves

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  12,967 ratings  ·  326 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 October 15th 1991)
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Tim O'Hearn
Dec 23, 2016 rated it liked it
A respectable account of the most significant insider trading scandal of all time as well as Michael Milken, the most rapid accumulator of wealth at that time. Den of Thieves is doomed to be remembered as a history book, though. While the author managed to wring every drop of fun out of this storyline, which was drawn out beyond any bystander's control, it often enters dull and tedious stretches. This former New York Times bestseller has been featured on dusty shelves across the country with boo ...more
Jeff Swystun
Jun 22, 2015 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
Porter Broyles

OMG... Now I am absolutely PISSED off at Simon and SHUCKSTER... I was asked about this books winning the Pulitzer... so I looked it up.


I am looking at the book which I have physically in my possession.

The published a book has a bold red circle which reads "Pulitzer Prizer Winner"... under the author's name it states "#1 National Best Seller" Clearly indicating that book is a Pulitzer Prize Winner.

When I look up the book online. The red circle now reads "#1 Natio
Sep 06, 2022 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
I was familiar with the history of Wall Street in the late 70’s and through the 80’s. While I wasn’t in the securities industry, it appeared to even my distant observations that there were some shenanigans going on. I was aware of Ivan Boesky and to a degree, Michael Milkin. My familiarity with the characters and storylines made this non-fiction narrative easier to follow. The only challenge was the multitude of characters and corporations and at times the author’s efforts to provide the necessa ...more
Apr 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Part of the disgust with Washington and big business stems from the slew of mergers and acquisitions that began during the seventies and eighties and which resulted in many people losing their jobs as the larger entities pulled cash out of the acquisitions, cut jobs, and moved much of the business overseas for cheaper labor costs. In part, what drove the acquisitions mania was the tax code that taxed dividends and profits from a business or stocks and made interest costs fully deductible. It pai ...more
Nov 13, 2016 rated it liked it
It's a very good book, but I gave it three stars because it's so heavily documented. The subtext of the whole book is "these horrible people did this horrible thing, and probably no one will ever do anything this horrible again". Well, that seems like a pretty naive way for an experienced Wall Street Journal reporter to look at it. And of course in light of what's happened since then, the bad behavior of Mike Milken and Ivan Boesky seems relatively benign compared to the actions that led to 2008 ...more
Omar Halabieh
Aug 02, 2015 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 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was so bad at the time and so shocking. Reading this book a bit late and after the financial crisis, I feel like yeah, whatever. It feels much worse now and it's hardly even litigated by the SEC anymore. But it's still a great story of how this sort of crime becomes so tempting, so easy to commit, and so hard to root out. ...more
Steve Vockrodt
May 10, 2009 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
Jul 02, 2013 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 02, 2011 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
Jeremy Raper
Nov 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Not ashamed to say this tale of Michael Milken's 1980s junk-bond shenanigans was one of the more entertaining books I have ever read. 500 pages but it flies by. The kind of detail Stewart has extracted from the records is pretty amazing. Milken unsurprisingly comes off as a grandiose, power and wealth-hungry egomaniac but still the extent of his achievement is pretty impressive. Highly recommended for a good summer read. ...more
Connor Lima
Jan 13, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Incredible story about the enhancement of one of the most transformational markets on Wall Street, ‘junk
bonds’. Stewart touches on the ethical bounds of which Michael Milken and insider trading giants on Wall Street neglected, which has defined the structure of capitalism as it is today. Must read for anyone interested in finance.
Ross McDougall
This was a struggle! If you're a reader who only feels right when they can leave a book at a chapter mark, you will too! :)

A seriously in-depth and well constructed analysis of the Wall Street shenanigans of the late 80's, it's easy to be completely floored by the sheer amount of funds being thrown around on every page. Stewart has clearly done his homework and compiled an excellent inside-story of greed, arrogance and ignorance.

I was enthralled as the house of cards was built higher and higher
Jun 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Throughout most of listening to this book, I thought to myself A) when is this book going to end, and B) what's the point of understanding something that happened almost 30 years ago? After finishing the book, my thoughts were A) James B. Stewart is a really good investigative journalist! and B) Seems like most of what happened in the book repeated itself in 2008. Can't really say I thoroughly enjoyed the book, but it was definitely a very detailed exposé on what was going on in the junk bond ma ...more
Mar 19, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Super thorough investigative journalism. The little details that are included, like a “bunny with a good nose” make the story vivid and authentic.

Gets a bit finance geeky, but a great cautionary tale about hubris, greed, and being mindful of both the agenda of others and power dynamics in relationships.
Sep 22, 2021 added it
death to all finance bros
Daniel Popovich
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
The rise and fall of Michael Milken and Drexel. Essential reading for anyone interested in the development of financial markets. Well written and very detailed.
Jaan Liitmäe
Jun 08, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Really solid and detailed stuff. Mandatory read for all interested in finance.
Wow, this was a labyrinth of organizations, key figures, and general figures that help chronicle the tremendous heights the men (and their respective organizations) fell, chiefly due to their crossing of ethical and legal lines in their feverish pursuit of hostile corporate raids, mostly taking shape as Leveraged Buyouts (which is when an individual, group, or entity purchases a firm through a combination of cash, debt, and equity.)

The greatness of this double-edged book, which easily makes it o
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Wish I'd read this book a decade ago... ...more
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads, even though it wasn't a 5-star read. It was, however, a very important read. The extent of corruption in the securities market is something every American should be aware of. The multitude of ways people can hide their money in foreign accounts, make investments under false names and get away with it is horrifying. Yes, this "den of thieves" got caught, but I'm certain there are smaller fish out there earning less money, and getting away with it.

In the end,
Feb 04, 2011 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
The scariest part of this book is how well it humanizes the people involved. No one is portrayed as evilly cackling as they count all their hundred-dollar bills, but at the same time, no one is doing good just for the sake of doing good either. Everyone has their own motivations and are making the choices that make the most sense to them.
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
Apr 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I had an audible edition of this book. I think listening instead of reading made the book more enjoyable as there were many parts of the book that contained "lingo" or "buzz words" that I simply did not know. If I had been reading, I would have wasted time trying to discover the meaning. I did not get that opportunity while listening (usually while commuting to work), so the book merely continued without explanation. That was fine, as it turns out the average reader does not need to know the ter ...more
David Snashall
Nov 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Wow, it took me some weeks to get through this and at time my interest was waning. In fact I was close to giving up at about half way through (ie p270) when the narrative suddenly took a sharp turn and the pace picked up substantially.
The first half gets pretty long and detailed about the deals, and there are a lot of characters to keep track of. It picks up pace as mentioned above but then slows again towards the end. Still its a pretty good read about the bad old days of Wall St.
Dec 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I read this book years ago and never forgot it. It ranks in the best ten books that I have ever read and the author's research is exhaustive and detailed. This research is then presented in a way that makes it near impossible to put this masterpiece down. A superb book, a superb author and the easiest of five star rankings. ...more
May 13, 2016 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.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is a fascinating look at the 1980's securities industry and reads like a thriller... ...more
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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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“Fifty years passed between the scandals of the 1920s and their counterparts in the 1980s. If Wall Street escapes another major threat to its integrity for even half as long, the crackdown that culminated in Milken’s conviction will have proven of historic value.” 0 likes
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