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

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  1,054 ratings  ·  56 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 Freres & Co. stood apart. Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were its weapons of choice. For more tha
Hardcover, 742 pages
Published April 3rd 2007 by Doubleday Books
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 ·  1,054 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Maciej Nowicki
Mar 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Last Tycoons, won the Business Book of the Year by Goldman Sachs in 2007. It tells a story of Lazard, a financial advisory and asset management firm. It is especially the history of the incredible people who worked there, at an obscure French investment bank, once so mysterious and so poorly understood until 1995 when the three Lazard Freres partnerships have banded together in order to form a new partnership, Lazard Capital Markets, to improve their financing and trading activities in Europ ...more
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
Tom Schulte
Jul 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Subtitled “The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co. ”, this is the story of simultaneous birth of globe-spanning financial empires and financial mismanagement that could harm millions.
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 covers ma
Oct 23, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
James Loftus
Jan 22, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Jul 31, 2008 rated it liked it
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.
Samuel Maina
Mar 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
This is one of those books that opened up to me a whole world of Mergers and Acquisitions and how the Corporate world is shark infested.
The intrigues in this book about running a company and the Corporate Law that goes with it...jump out of the book like a movie. Investment bankers are shrewd Lawyers who play the numbers game.
I am still unable to explain the link between rich men and their love for collecting art.
I also found out that rich men have specific places where they hang out.
Michael to
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wonder if it is serendipity or pure coincidence that on the second day listening to this rather long book I was playing the game of "Acquire" (a '60s board game) with family and realized that my daughter-in-law is skilled (but nice) financial cutthroat. The book, as I say, is rather long and has its interesting bits. But, by and large, I would recommend (if you can find one) learning to play the board game and leave the real-life game of mergers and acquisitions to the investment bankers who l ...more
Burak Karahasan
Mar 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book was definetly one of the best business books I’ve read. It gives great insight into the lives and mindsets of the financial elite. The book is surprisingly interesting, as its fiction-like narrative transforms the boring topic of finance (at least for most people) into a page-turner. The book allows the readers to get a hint of the lives of finance tycoons, not only through their business successes, but by going deeper into their personal lives. For example, the book goes into much det ...more
Mar 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
I listened to this during my obsession with white collar crime books. While there is no obvious criminal activity taking place in this story, there is certainly borderline behavior that took place. This was a very interesting history of a company that I knew next to nothing about. I learned more than I ever thought I would want to know about M&A firms and banking, and also realized that it appears to be just as confusing and non-explainable to those making the money as to the rest of the world. ...more
Ben Mwaba
Jul 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
It's a revealing and some what cautionary tale (at times) of one of the most enigmatic Wall Street firms. Though the book is unnecessarily long, the points and anecdotes it contains are often worth one's patience. ...more
Aidan Renaghan
Sep 17, 2022 rated it really liked it
Fascinating history of the bank that parallels the changes in modern finance. Clear eyed about banking without being fawning and a lot of great insight into how banks like lazard are structure and how they are profitable.
Aug 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finance-econ
Pretty good biopic of the history of one of the last private investment banking firms. Was an enjoyable read.
Weston Moore
Feb 14, 2021 rated it liked it
Read it 10 years ago and remember it dragging at the end but I love financial non-fiction with a strong narrative style like Michael Lewis
Bracken White
Jul 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Very familiar to anyone who worked in investment banking before it was taken over by the big banks. A vanishing breed.
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
Mar 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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. ...more
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
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very strong start, with a compelling story of Lazard. For anyone working o the industry, this is an amazing book. Profiles of very interesting people such as André Meyer and Felix Rohatyn.

The last 20% of the book is a little bit shallow and seems to be written in a hurry, in order to publish the book, soon after the IPO of Lazard. And clearly the author is not a fan of Mr. Wasserstein, something that is pretty clear through the reading.

But the reading is very enjoyable, easy reading considerin
Brian R.
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. ...more
Apr 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Alex  Gunawan
Jul 12, 2008 is currently reading it
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........
Jan 16, 2011 rated it liked it
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.
Vitalijus Sostak
Feb 25, 2014 rated it liked it
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".
Dennis Kocik
Dec 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A very well researched history of the House of Lazard. An historical history replete with ego and unbridled greed on the part of most of the senior members of this firm. Well worth the time to read through!
Matt Rose
Nov 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
Jun 09, 2007 rated it did not like it
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 worke

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