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When the Wolves Bite: Two Billionaires, One Company, and an Epic Wall Street Battle

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  925 ratings  ·  73 reviews
The inside story of the clash of two of Wall Street's biggest, richest, toughest, most aggressive players--Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman--and the little company caught in the middle.

With their unprecedented amounts of capital and their savvy understanding of business, activist investors Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman have the ability to move markets and change the fortunes of inv
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 24th 2018 by PublicAffairs
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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 ·  925 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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Sanford Chee
May 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Highly entertaining hedge fund porn featuring larger than life characters with their outsized egos.
A fly in the wall scoop on the real life "Wall Street" drama.

Bill Ackman & Carl Icahn clash on CNBC in 2013

New Yorker article

The Big Short War: Ackman vs Loeb & Icahn Mar 7, 2013

Ackman’s bloopers:
* Gotham Golf
* Target lost HF friends $ (incl. Dan Loeb, Einhorn, Jamie Dinan) via $2b SPAC (spec
Jan 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I first became interested in the epic battle over the future of Herbalife by watching a documentary. Bill Ackman had bet enormous sums of money that Herbalife was nothing but a huge pyramid scheme (the more pleasant term with less baggage is "multi-layered marketing" - one is illegal, the other legal. Personally, I find but little difference between them.)

What was astonishing was the amount of money thrown around in pursuit of even larger amounts of money and how each of the titans, Icahn and Ac
Manas Saloi
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Two words for this : Finance Porn

Got familiar with the world of activist hedge funds through the book on Marissa Mayer and the fight to save Yahoo. Now binging on a series of similar books
Stacy Starr
Dec 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
2 rich cats putting opposing bids on Herbalife stocks and battling to control the story to manipulate the stock in their favor.

Interesting to read about the moves they make (both major and subtle) and to gain the edge. It’s an industry that is foreign to me and it’s interesting to see how they play their game!! It’s also crazy to hear the amounts of “money” these guys lose and gain in an instant!
Athan Tolis
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business, biography
This is like “Barbarians at the Gate,” except nobody wins.

Nobody wins because everything sensible that can be done by corporate raiders has already been done. So the sharks take on one another.

A TV anchor who depends on their ilk to come to his daily show is probably not the guy to present the story from that angle. So he doesn’t…

The flip side is that he knows them very well. So you do get the whole dirt here and you totally get it from the horse’s mouth. As a long profile of Carl Icahn or Bill
John Johnson
May 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
I'm not sure if this book was really intended to be about the Herbalife battle between Bill Ackman and Carl Icahn or about the way billionaire hedge fund managers use company ownership to fight with each other. It seems to be both.

The Herbalife fight started when David Einhorn took a short position against the company based on its business practices. Bill Ackman quickly jumped in as well, but Einhorn didn't stay. He attended a shareholder meeting and asked a few pointed questions to the CEO. Tho
Kiswara Mihardja
Jun 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites, business
Alger Smythe-Hopkins
Feb 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
If ever you want to stop a conversation about economics dead, just express the opinion that economists are at best behavioral social scientists with no predictive capacity, and the the economy as a whole is a giant confidence scheme. While I am steadfast on the first point, I have generally had less evidence to support the second and so have argued that point with more or less conviction.
When Wolves Bite has changed all of that. Never has there been a volume that has detailed with more breathles
Jan 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received a DIGITAL Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
From the publisher

The inside story of the clash of two of Wall Street's biggest, richest, toughest, most aggressive players--Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman--and the little company caught in the middle.

With their unprecedented amounts of capital and their savvy understanding of business, activist investors Carl Icahn and Bill Ackman have the ability to move markets and change the fortunes of invest
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business
Herbalife training materials described "magic numbers" that were needed to reach the higher levels of the pyramid.... A tiny fraction of those at the top of the pyramid are enormously successful.
Herbalife was called a predatory money trap.

Ackman wrote, on February 10, 2015, .....Every day the FTC fails to act, is another day for Herbalife to recruit 5000 more victims......

"In December 2012, Ackman, age 45 then, issued a research report criticizing Herbalife's multi-level marketing business mode
Sep 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is my first Audio Book review. That said I will offer thoughts more on the book itself with a side comment on the Audio Book itself.

This book is fairly interesting in that it's about a battle between two billionaire activist investors on either side of an investment. Ackman who shorted Herbal Life and Ichan who bet on its stock to rise. The key seemingly to be to prove whether or not Herbal Life was a pyramid scheme or not.

The documenting of this battle is quite interesting and a look in to
First of all, this book have been compared by some reviewers to Barbarians at the Gate, which I found to be a five star rated book. Wapner’s book was not nearly that interesting or exciting at least to this reader. Frankly the two main characters and antagonists, Icahn and Ackman were primarily concerned with their own egos and greed. Wapner’s book was obviously well researched and he was personally involved in the reporting of this story as it happened. He dealt with both Carl Icahn and Bill Ac ...more
May 04, 2019 rated it really liked it
You have to be a kind-of a business geek to enjoy this book. (Actually, it’s more like a long magazine article.) I was aware of Herbalife – but not the long and short stock trades. It’s shareholder activists and hedge funds, Carl Ichan and William Ackman … billionaires battling among themselves. (What individual could spend $50 million on research and attorneys in order to buy or sell a stock? These guys have so much money that they are able to lawyer-up and play the nuances and exceptions of co ...more
Trey McIntyre
Feb 14, 2019 rated it liked it
If you aren't familiar with the Herbalife story, this is probably a really good introduction. But the focus is really on the various disagreements between Carl Ichan & Bill Ackman without either coming out clean. They both seem like assholes to me, but in different ways.

Unfortunately, the length of their personal dispute revolves around just two investment deals one in which they were partners and the Herbalife thing where they were on opposite sides. So, although it's framed as this epic battl
Feb 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a fascinating read about the world of hedge fund specifically two activist heavyweight investors - Ackman and Icahn. The former had a dogged bearish thesis on Herbalife whereas the latter joined the bullish camp for the sake of a spectacular battle with one of his arch enemy on Wall Street. The book had a slow start and along the chapters, some were irrelevant to the main story. But overall, a decent book about the competitiveness of the financial market as well as some of tactics the bi ...more
Greg Foss
Nov 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
I can't really recommend this book - it was a huge letdown. Wapner is such a fanboy of the wealthy and their petty tirades that really thought the content of the book was much more epic than it was. The basic premise was alright: One trader sought to short Herbalife, and really felt it was a pyramid scheme. Herbalife fought back, and a bunch of Wall Street bigwigs jumped on their bandwagon. The end. Interesting without all the attention to their petty insult squabbles - which seemed to be Wapner ...more
Dec 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Bill Ackman:
-Craves association w/ very accomplished people
-Measures himself based on his Net Worth
-Uses the media as a tool to prop himself up
-Sees himself as a celebrity
-Willing to go to great lengths to win even if it takes years to do so

Questions to Ask:
-How big is the company?
—Define “big” based on what metric?
-Who are your customers?
-Who are the largest shareholders?

-Redefined himself as a Activist Investor from a Corporate Raider
—Defined the term

Ackman Herbalife:
-Leveraged the publi
Nam KK
Sep 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The war between (mostly) two investment titans, told from the perspective of a CNBC host (he wrote more pages about Ackman though). From his job, Scott talks to (legendary) investors on a daily basis, and has a strong knowledge of what are behind the scene. However, like a investment bank would rarely write a sell report on a company, the nature of Scott's job keeps him from writing things that he might possibly do in another capacity.

Overall good for a quick read that I finished in a few sitti
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I found this very exciting--a thriller without a thrilling ending because it is non-fiction. Ackerman sort of wins vindication in his attack on the business practices of Herbalife. They are fined 200 m by the FTC . . . but they stay in business, so Ackerman sort of loses, too. Icahn, who stood by Herbalife, also does well. Somehow these guys do, don't they?

This book was a great look into big stock deals and bigger personalities. Rewritten as fiction with a clear victor (Ackerman--as he'd be bri
Apr 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: post-mortems
A book about a bunch of horrible people doing horrible things to one another and to horrible companies. Herbalife is a pretty massive scam which preys on poor Latinos, and one obnoxious hedge fund guy who mostly was just lucky a few times before decided to follow another smarter hedge fund guy’s fake-out into shorting it, then ended up basically at war with him when he went long. This is really more a 4.5/5 because there isn’t a lot of deep underlying truth here beyond ultra-rich assholes are st ...more
Brad Mills
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Very interesting story behind the MLM company Herbalife and it's struggles with the SEC & wall st hedge fund managers.

I didn't know what I was getting into when I bought this book, I thought it was more about trading, something like the documentary "Inside Job" or the film "The Big Short".

I was not disappointed though, while it's not really about trading, it's a very eye opening look into the world of billionaires shorting public companies.

This book eventually becomes a Carl Icahn vs Bill Ackman
Oct 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
This isn't my usual kind of read but, because I have a Latina friend on the board of Herbalife I've been curious about this story. It's a quick and interesting read, more gripping than I had imagined. Even though I've been in the financial world, it opened my eyes more to some of the crazy stuff that drives the market and shows, once again, the greed and arrogance and selfishness of Wall Street (in general). Worth a read. ...more
Jul 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Bill Ackman vs Herbalife + Carl Icahn.

I'd still like the see the movie Betting on Zero, but in the meanwhile, this was an excellent and easy read. Gave some brief bio's of the people involved, layed out the events, and appears to have been sourced with everyone involved. Made for an interesting and balanced read.

Still suspect Ackman is right and it is (was?) a scam, but I tend to feel that way even about non-illegal MLMs.
Dustan Woodhouse
Aug 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
I’d add the fifth star if either the technical aspects had been delved into a bit deeper, or if it had ended with a bigger bang.

Who really won, who really lost?

Kinda the same old story, a bunch of rich guys stayed rich while playing a huge game of ego with a bunch of money invested by slightly less rich people.


No special takeaways here you couldn’t absorb via a few news articles and blog posts on this battle.

Dec 07, 2018 rated it liked it
It was interesting learning about what an activist investor is and how the behave.

The book starts off slow, has some problems with timeline, and the interweaving of the different person’s stories. I’m not the audience for this book, as I found myself not caring about these guys and these sketchy companies.

Jon Lapinski
Dec 16, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had only followed the Herbalife activist battle casually from what I happened to see online or on TV. There is WAY more to the story. Scott got really close to both of the personalities in this book and chronicles their interactions and each step/misstep well. it was a great look into how activists and hedge fund managers operate.
Daniel Patterson
Interesting, thorough content overall, but felt like the book was not that well-written. Author took a lot of detours from the main narrative (Ackerman/Icahn battle over Herbalife) into various other deals that the two hedge fund managers made that made for a loose narrative and caused large portions of the book to seem superfluous to the story that was trying to be told.
Joe Loncarich
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The only issue with this book is that you are hoping that everyone involved loses somehow, despite taking opposite sides of a deal. Unfortunately, that isn't the case, and considering they are both billionaires, it's pretty hard to see either side as the loser. At least it's therapeutic to laugh at these overprivileged dumbasses for a short time. ...more
Paul Espey
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book... well written, researched and a quick read. If you liked this, try Black Edge (Sheelah Kolhatkar), Greatest Trade Ever (Gregory Zuckerman), The Big Short and Flashboys (Michael Lewis).
Jingwei Shi
May 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Good compilation of everything that has been written about the Herbalife feud. Apart from some personal anecdotes, there were nothing insightful about the feud. The author should have dug deeper into the research in my view to give the readers a more in depth view of both sides of research.
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