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The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co.

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  745 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
A grand and revelatory portrait of Wall Street’s most storied investment bank

Wall Street investment banks move trillions of dollars a year, make billions in fees, pay their executives in the tens of millions of dollars. But even among the most powerful firms, Lazard Frères & Co. stood apart. Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were its weapons of choice. For more
Paperback, 756 pages
Published April 8th 2008 by Anchor (first published April 3rd 2007)
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Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compelling history of Lazard Frères & Co.

If investment banking and the history of big deals fascinate you, getAbstract invites you to sit down with this compelling history of Lazard Frères & Co., from its humble beginnings through its astounding success. The stories of the dominant personalities who used the Lazard mystique to garner unbelievable fees are legendary. As a former journalist and Lazard banker, William D. Cohan has the skill and qualifications to tell this story. While he c
Oct 23, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The author is a former banker and journalist, and he writes like the former. His stylistic quirks - he tends to complete rather nondescript thoughts with menaningless quotations from the players which add nothing - are annoying and amateurish. And while it is well researched and footnoted, the history of the once secretive Lazard Freres is not all that exciting. However, there is some juicy gossip, and the best portions center on the massive egos of the various stars in the firm. Those chapters ...more
Jul 31, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business-books
This is a gossipy history of an investment bank, most of it dedicated to the last 20 years where the most gossip is available. It contains all of the joys and limitations of good gossip, although non-bankers may find the descriptions of the various compensation packages a little arcane.
James Loftus
Jan 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Wall St Nerds
Will written, but LONG and really only for the die hard lover of the history of wall street. On a positive note I thought it was fair and well researched and did not have an agenda, a big bonus considering it was written by a former Lazard partner.
Kirk Houghton
Jul 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lazard Ltd is one of the most prestigious investment banks in the world, yet one of the least recognisable to the general public. Everybody has an opinion on the dubious nature of corporate- lending institutions that are supposed to oil the wheels of economic growth, yet Lazard Ltd has faced none of the opprobrium its rivals have lived with since September 2008. The chances are you might be learning of its existence for the first time by reading this review.

William D. Cohan’s history of Lazard F
Well, look, I don’t swear very often, but p36 is profoundly unreasonable to former colleagues [DBW, RC, and TL] and on p358 [much better stewardship is expected]; and similarly on p370. p37 at least has the merits of being written in the kind of language that can be presented to the court of the Comte de Bouffant-délicat-avec-les traits d’unions-ces-jours-cì-sniff. (less cheekily, a setting of the hyphens appears to be offered on pp883 and 896 of JM Roberts' New Penguin History of the World 5th ...more
Jim Bowen
Growing up in the 1980s, you became aware of the changes in the US, and UK's economy in the face of vicious deregulation.and other economic changes. If you asked people to name the bankers involved in those changes, Lazard's would be one of the banks that people mentioned.

This book traces the history of Lazard's from its' humble beginnings (as a merchant) to the sort of bank that the 99%ers have come to love to hate. It's an interesting book. Breezy to read at first but kind of depressingly goss
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never before have I given a five star rating to a book of which I had only read 9%. However, this book is special in many ways, and if the beginning is any indication of the author's thoughts and reflections, it merits this rating. I eagerly await my future readings of this splendid work.
Mar 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Narrator: Robertson Dean

This was great fun. I enjoyed every few hours I gave to it every day, in-between my fiction listening. Having had some experience in the financial industry, I could easily relate to the issues and the personalities. It's not technically heavy as far as financial jargon is concerned, nor does Cohan go into the intricacies of a merger and acquisition. The book stays squarely on the personalities - the people involved in the history of Lazar
ajay Kumar
u have credit to the author for the detailed research he has done both on the firm as well as the individual lives of the people related to lazard...definitely in the same league as some of the other prominent Investment Banking books,,,,

among the -ves...quite verbose at times..u feel bored at times as book discuss many issues not exactly linked to the firm art collections of their owners etc..

i have read barbaraians at the gate before this and its a problem with most of these book
Brian R.
Aug 20, 2008 rated it liked it
I can understand entirely why the average reader would not be very interested in this book but it is an incredibly well research and entertaining look at one of Wall Street's most impressive firms. While I found the end of the book that deals with the most recent developments within the firm to be a bit rambling I found the balance of the firm's history (and especially the historical perspective given to it) rather fascinating.
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Cohan is a thorough researcher and has made a candid picture of the people and motives behind Lazard. I admire his thoroughness and patience. On the other hand, I am so used to reading about a company through their characters, that I miss the story and find the narration of people and facts sometimes lengthy. So for the sake of preciseness and completeness, Cohan has sacrificed literature and storytelling. A great book but not necessarily a vivid colourful painting.
Vitalijus Sostak
Lengthy book overburdened with details, reminds me of "Barbarians at the Gate". Gossipy parts are the best, of course, they give meaty insight on what internal politics/infighting in private M&A partnership really looks like.

Few quotes:
"Investment bankers, as a class, are the Ernest Hemingways of bullshit".
The Lazard credo: "It's not enough for you to succeed; other must fail".
Jan 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
This was a tough one - there were parts of it that I really liked (the more recent history, their conversations about going public, etc.) particularly around their ridiculously insular culture, but there were also whole sections that dragged terribly. So I would say interesting to those who have seen a bank from the inside, could have gotten a bit tougher with the editing pen.
Alex  Gunawan
Jul 12, 2008 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
As expected, This book is really good. It tells us about Lazard Freres & co, it's intrigue, etc...... It is about history about the success and the end of the last private company, after surviving more than a hundred years.

I won't make a lot of comment because i haven't finished it. Hopefully, i have a lot of time to read it........
Matt Rose
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent history of Lazard. The more current the events the more detail is provided. This makes sense but the book would be better with more earlier detail. The author provides great insight on the complexity of leadership.
May 08, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting book on a company I didn't even know existed before I'd read their story. Well researched.
Jun 27, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Ugh. Lots of discussion of mergers and acquisitions, no explanation of the jargon they used in the text. Couldn't get through the book - a rarity for me.
Jan 05, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
would benefit from some more rigorous editing and abbreviation, but insightful nonetheless... reminds me of why i would never want to work for an investment bank (did i just say that?)
Mirek Jasinski
Long, factual but interesting to all those who want to understand social/economic history and/or banking
Mar 12, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
lib 3/19; need to reorder as of 4/20
Apr 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For anyone interested in how global financial institutions evolve, this is great reading. You have to be somewhat familiar with the investment banking world to find a lot of stuff interesting
Jun 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Fascinating, breathtaking insight!
David Fang
Poorly written, makes me want to fall asleep. Read Barbarians at the Gate instead.
Alberto Lopez
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read about Lazard's extensive history and its poetic transformation into a public company.
Oct 03, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Definitely a book which gives a good insight of the wall street history. At some points, the direction gets a bit hazy but overall a nice read.
Jan 21, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book probably has a pretty limited audience. That said, it's well done.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-non-fiction
Good retelling based on widely disseminated sources.
The Truong
An interesting, but ultimately long-winded, look at Lazard Freres.
Jun 09, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I never thought the exciting life of investment bankers at Lazard could turn into such a boring book.
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William David Cohan (born February 20, 1960) is an American business writer. He has written three books about business and economics and is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair.

Prior to becoming a journalist, he worked on Wall Street for seventeen years. He spent six years at Lazard Frères in New York, then Merrill Lynch & Co., and later became a managing director at JP Morgan Chase. He also w
More about William D. Cohan...
“In the past, when Michel had been asked about how the firm would manage without the prolific Felix, he would quote Georges Clemenceau, the French World War I leader: “The cemeteries are full of indispensable men.” 1 likes
“déjà vu all over again.” 0 likes
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