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A History of the United States in Five Crashes: Stock Market Meltdowns That Defined a Nation

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  269 Ratings  ·  42 Reviews
In this absorbing, smart, and accessible blend of economic and cultural history, Scott Nations, a longtime trader, financial engineer, and CNBC contributor, takes us on a journey through the five significant stock market crashes in the past century to reveal how they defined the United States today

The Panic of 1907: When the Knickerbocker Trust Company failed, after a braz
ebook, 352 pages
Published June 13th 2017 by William Morrow
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Peter Mcloughlin
Fairly interesting. But the wall street jargon could be hard to penetrate at times. I understood his description of the 1987 crash and the 2008 housing bubble but I had read a lot on these crashes elsewhere. One could get some understanding of 1907,1929,2010 but he spends too much time playing up the human drama and not enough explaining causal factors at length. I am interested. I don't need the human interest story but more space to unpack what is going on in markets would be more helpful for ...more
Douglass Gaking
Apr 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book describes the 1907, 1929, 1987, 2008, and 2010 stock market crashes. Scott Nations' thesis is that crashes tend to follow a pattern where some new financial construct causes investors to let their guard down. The false sense of security allows for a rapid market run, then some event triggers it to come crashing back down. The introduction of algorithms and computer-directed trading has also sped up this process and created new vulnerabilities in the market.

The 2010 Flash Crash doesn't
Aug 14, 2017 rated it liked it
I love both American history and financial crashes, but this book was terribly dull. I read it and learned a bit, but not enough to recommend it to anyone.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book compliments of William Morrow through the Goodreads First Reads program.

"Step right up, folks. I've got a great opportunity to make me - ha ha, I mean You - to make your investment grow. How? Well, it's new and not easy to explain. But, hey, professors figured it out and they know what they're doing, right?
Uh, yes, ma'am, that does look like an iceberg right ahead, but we're going to sail right past it - no problems and a great return on your money. How much you wanna inves
Andreas Lorenz
Aug 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Clear and methodical. I like the structure with which he tells this story.

This book is in many ways akin to fx "The big short" and "When Genius Failed" except that this book is shorter and more concise and doesn't deal the the interpersonal dramas as the other books. This book explains simply the mechanisms by which the financial markets have crashed 5 times.

When done you will have learned most crashes have similar components like oblique products, overleveraged participants, exogenous shocks,
Aug 03, 2018 rated it liked it
I feel like the genesis of every business history includes this conversation:

Editor: These facts about interest rates are all very well, but you must engage the reader.

Author: What if I described men's facial hair?

Editor:'s a start.

Author: And maybe descriptions of incidental characters' childhoods'?

Editor: Good, good.

Author: Oh, I've got it--long descriptions of everyone's education!

Editor: Yes! There you go! If there's one thing I know in this crazy business, it's that people want to
Eldon Farrell
If I offered you a loan and told you, up front, your monthly payments would make it so you could never repay the loan, would you take the loan? The obvious answer is no, right? Unless, of course, I called it a negative amortization mortgage. In that case, you might get swindled like so many Americans did back in 2008. I’m guessing, the fine print on those mortgages wasn’t so clearly explained.

Aside from 2008, Scott Nations, goes into great depth on the more familiar crashes of 1929 and 1987, as
Apr 17, 2018 rated it liked it
This really readable, play-by-play account of five major market crashes of the last 100 or so years points to symptoms the all seemed to have in common. Greed is always first and foremost, there is often an elevated market and a new financial contraption or technology which pushes it even further past reasonable levels, there is hubris and sometimes complacency, and finally, a catalyst. Because these traits and tendencies seem to be woven into our DNA, the market will crash again.
Ailith Twinning
Feb 23, 2018 rated it did not like it
I must read books I hate. I must read books I hate. I must read books I hate.

One damn page in: "We invest in teh stock market for many reasons, each of them good." That's not how literally anything works. There are bad reasons for everything. Every. Single. Thing. Most of all the pursuits of wealth and power.

"The American investor has probable done more good in this world than anyone else, with the exception of the American soldier."

.....There are no sufficient words to express the self-adulat
Russ K
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017, giveaways, 2018
I received this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway from Harper Collins.

I love reading about history, but I got a C in my most recent economics class ten years ago. Still, Nations hooked me by focusing on the stories of individuals and the places they had in these moments. He'd go in depth into the background of some of the main players, to show their rise and fall in a few paragraphs. He tried to show the origin of some of the terrible ideas that lead to the market crashes of the past. And he
Crissy Brounce
Jan 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book has a tremendous amount of detail which I enjoyed but it may be too much for some. While going thru the economic, financial and political drivers of market crashes, there is considerable content providing back stories of key individuals, companies etc. which may not be entirely relevant- but I love back stories as they provide more depth and ultimately more understanding of the overall story. For example, the 2008 crash begins with the Exxon Valdez oil spill nearly 2 decades earlier - ...more
Sep 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Interesting book about the history of the United States Financial System Crashes. This book covers a lot on the failures that caused chaos on Wall Street and with the general public. The author does an excellent job covering these life changing events that still haunt some investors today. Some of the events could be hard to understand if you don't have a background with finance and the products used.
Nov 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book reveals the dangers of using new, complex financial instruments before they are fully understood. Scott Nations demonstrates that each crash was, at least in part, driven by the ignorance of financiers who utilized various financial products before fully considering the limits of their use or their downside potential.

The best way to summarize this book in one sentence would be with the old adage: if something looks to good to be true, it probably is.
Brad Osment
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Crashes usually occur late in a decade 1929, 87, 98, 2008 so thank goodness next year is.. wait.... Luckily we don't have any over inflated asset classes that have left many people vulnerable to sudden rises in interest rates...wait.. nor do we have any new financial products with no actual fundamental value like a made up currency that is ballooning in value...wait... Nor do we have any erratic leaders in charge of large economies....
Jan 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Been thru 3 of the 5.
The background of the principal actors or situations for each one was very helpful. Although the minute by minute or day by day fluctuations were important, it was easy to lose the story in that detail. Main things to remember- each time there was something new and regulation came too late (sound like Bitcoin?); greed and over reach is always a factor; liquidity disappears when it is most needed; and speed from technology is more and more of a contributing factor.
Matt Papes
Jun 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very important book for every investor to read. The stock market is notoriously difficult to time, but the author convincingly points to parallels in the 5 huge crashes that occurred and what we can look out for. And more importantly, he convincingly makes the case that we must come to grips that as devastating as they are, and even with all we have learned from those that have before, there is no doubt there will be more to come.
I was expecting more. Thought the epilogue after each market break could have been better. Explain changes and regulatory changes as a result. Found the discussion of the last crashes not as interesting as the first two but that may have been because I lived through those last two and didn't think there was much added value either historically or investment wise.
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
I was expecting way more from this book. While some of the detail on earlier crashes was interesting, the day by day accounts were laborious and not well organized. I thought the emphasis on these details missed the forest through the trees. I would have liked more compare and contrast and discussion on commonalities instead of the day by day accounts of how much markets dropped.
Sep 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a someone just learning about the stock market, I found this a great read to get one's feet wet in the history of the modern stock market and the crashes that have caused calamity. "A History of the United States in Five Crashes" is written is easy to read language, and each historical crash is explained both in cultural environment and business practices that caused it.
Ray Smith
Oct 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Mildly interesting, but the writing could be better and better organized. When it comes to the stock market, everything needs to be explained minutely; charts and graphs would help, but none can be found here. Sort of meandering, and its omissions--like totally not talking about the dot-com crash--are strange.
Randall Russell
Oct 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Pretty interesting. Offered some insights into how some of the stock market crashes occurred that I didn't know. Some of it - like a lot of the stuff about the 2008 financial crisis and stock market crash I already knew, but the information about the 2010 "Flash Crash", and why it occurred was new to me. Overall, the book was pretty well written, so I would rate it good, but not fantastic.
Wally Muchow
Apr 30, 2018 rated it liked it
An interesting exploration of five stock market tumbles and how each was associated with the development and mismanagement of some new and ultimately complex financial instrument, While there are detailed descriptions of the tools and what went wrong there is as much focus on the people involved and how they reacted or caused the panics.
Matt Rose
Jul 12, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: stock-market
Good book - worth reading again sometime. History of our stock market highlights many of the ingredients to crashes: govt interference, financial products not understood (usually new), and in general the market freaking out because they don't know what anything is worth anymore.
Feb 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Essential reading to understand how economic history repeats itself - or at least rhymes. Each generation, we develop an increasingly complex investment mechanism that externalizes risk and invites dangerous speculation. And each time we come crashing back down.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed this book and it surpassed my expectations. Well written and flowed smoothly. For me, just the right amount of statistics. I was born in San Francisco, and had no idea of the 1906 earthquake's effect on the 1907 markets. Great job Scott
Nov 22, 2017 rated it liked it
Interesting information but hard to get through. I listened to the audio book and the narrator was boring. But I love American history and I wanted to know more about economics because I'm teaching it this year.
Neeraj Badaya
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book to read, author was really great in creating curiosity for the next crash and really like the fact that when speed and complexity competes, speed always wins which is the reason for the last two crashes.
Brett Kronewitter
Nov 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
An interesting historical perspective of the periods surrounding the crashes and there causes. Interesting considering the current long in the tooth bull market.
Jim Blessing
Sep 08, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
This was an interesting and insightful read especially about the 1907 and 1929 stock crashes.
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Solid history, entertaining too

Ripped through the this book in a long weekend. The personal stories along with the macro panoramic views made this an enjoyable read.
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