Author(s): Vicky Ward
They were the Rat Pack of Wall Street. Four close friends: one a decorated war hero, one an emotional hippie, and two regular guys with big hearts, big dreams, and noble aims. They were going to get rich on Wall Street. They were going to prove that men like them with zero financial training - could more than equal the Ivy-League-educated white shoe bankers who were the competition. They were going to create an institution for men like them - men who were hungry and untrained and they were going to win, but not at the cost of their souls. In short, they were going to be the good guys of finance. Under their watch, Lehman Brothers started to grow and became independent again in 1994. But something had gone wrong on the journey. The men slowly, perhaps inevitably, changed. As Lehman Brothers grew, so too did the cracks in and among the men who had rebuilt it. Ward takes you inside Lehman's highly charged offices. You'll meet beloved leaders who were erased from the corporate history books, but who could have taken the firm in a very different direction had they not fallen victim to infighting and their own weaknesses.
"Contains some fascinating pen-portraits of Lehman's characters-Mr Fuld and his sycophantic court ..." (The Economist Online) "Ward sheds light on the four childhood friends who planned to take the financial world by storm while keeping their heads on their shoulders, and how quickly the second part of the play fell by the wayside amidst a brutal corporate coup and bumbling mismanagement that brought the firm down. The Devil's Casino serves as both an impressive work of investigative journalism and a cautionary tale of the culture surrounding American finance." (The Daily Beast) "Ward's book is rich on details ... when Ward connects the dots, the rough conclusion she comes up with is that fatal flaws of Fuld's culture brought Lehman down." (Reuters) "A fascinating, deftly paced tale." (Metro.co.uk) "Vanity Fair Contributing Editor Vicky Ward serves up a book about an investment bank that is a spicy, dishy dish ... Ward builds a convincing case that duplicity and betrayal in the mid-'90s eventually led to the demise of Lehman Brothers." (Bloomberg BusinessWeek) "...The Devil's Casino has everything readers might want to know about the personal foibles and shopping habits of key Lehman leaders and their wives...a fascinating read." (Financial Times) "What's remarkable about this narrative is that Ward...manages to humanize many of the central figures involved in the rise and fall of one of Wall Street's largest firms, offering profound insight into the titans of finance whose recklessness, greed, and competitiveness brought the US economy to the brink of collapse. The story plays out like a Shakespearean tragedy (Ward even includes a "Cast of Characters") in which the very principles upon which the firm was built prove to be its undoing... The Devil's Casino. offers a fascinating glimpse into the culture of one of the most powerful firms on Wall Street. One hopes that the history it chronicles will also serve as a cautionary tale for the financial industry's still-uncertain future." (The Boston Globe) "In a terrific book Vicky Ward takes us into the heart of the denial machine. Hers is the story of Lehman Brothers, then Wall Street's fourth largest investment bank, soon to be its biggest casualty... Ward takes us into the world of these bankers, and shows us the lives they were leading in the years before the crash. At first, they saw themselves as "good guys" - bankers who would not become blinded by greed. But then they began to see how much money could be made and their lifestyles changed. They did not seem to be their old selves any more. This is what Ward does so well: she shows us the world of private jets and helicopters, the women with personal shoppers and shelves full of unworn shoes. She shows us how it is that people, even though they are multi-millionaires, can still have an addict's desperation for money." (The Guardian) In the fall of 2008, the 150-year-old financial institution Lehman Brothers spectacularly melted down. The liquefied remains then ignited, joining the worldwide conflagration that became the great recession that is now either over or not, depending on whom you talk to. In short order, a host of formerly rock-solid institutions showed cracks that ran all the way from their foundations to the aeries occupied by their greedy, ineffective senior management. Firms that once represented all that was trustworthy in our financial system teetered, then fell. Even insurance companies that were responsible for the welfare of others were revealed to be the oldest permanent floating craps game in New York. "Vicky Ward's "The Devil's Casino" is an able new entrant into this crowded genre, and people who hate losers who are not their friends should enjoy it very much. It chronicles the sad and messy end of the House of Lehman in a relatively terse and fast-moving 270 pages, making it a mere social X-ray of a book by today's standards of nonfiction heft, which often rivals the unsecured debt load of a failed bank. Ward carefully and skillfully tracks the last 25 or so years of the great, doomed enterprise, and her portrait of a business entity is often engaging, spicy and amusing. I particularly enjoyed the horror stories about those few, strategically challenged souls who had the temerity not to learn golf. Theirs was a demise that only outsiders to our fascist corporate golfing culture can appreciate. And the tick-tock of deals, fads, decisions and transactions that took place over a very long time can be exciting. The book also does a fine job of sketching several outlandishly banal individuals who rose to prominence in the firm and ultimately were responsible, each in a different way, for its demise." (The Washington Post) "Vicky Ward is a British export to New York, with a degree in English Literature - and it shows. She writes stylishly and she understands, unlike other authors who have rushed into print with accounts of the financial crisis, that enduring literature is not created by unravelling transactions but by illuminating complex personalities." (Mail on Sunday) "Vicky Ward's The Devil's Casino is an able. entrant into this crowded genre, and people who hate losers who are not their friends should enjoy it very much. It chronicles the sad and messy end of the House of Lehman in a relatively terse and fast-moving 270 pages. Ward carefully and skillfully tracks the last 25 or so years of the great, doomed enterprise, and her portrait of a business entity is often engaging, spicy and amusing. The book also does a fine job sketching several outlandishly banal individuals who rose to prominence in the firm and ultimately were responsible, each in a different way, for its demise." (Stanley Bing, The Free Press)
Cast of Characters. Prologue. Part One: The Ponderosa Boys. Chapter 1 A Long, Hot Summer. Chapter 2 The Beginning. Chapter 3 The Captain. Chapter 4 The "Take-Under". Chapter 5 Slamex. Chapter 6 The Phoenix Rises. Chapter 7 Independence Day. Chapter 8 The Stiletto. Chapter 9 The Ides of March. Chapter 10 Eulogies. Part Two: The Echo Chamber. Chapter 11 Russian Winter. Chapter 12 Lehman's Desperate Housewives. Chapter 13 The Young Lions. Chapter 14 9/11. Chapter 15 No Ordinary Joe. Chapter 16 The Talking Head. Chapter 17 The Sacrifi cial Ram. Chapter 18 Korea's Rising Sum. Chapter 19 The Wart on the End of Lehman's Nose. Chapter 20 Damned Flood? Chapter 21 Closing the Books. Epilogue. A Note About the Sources. Notes. References. Acknowledgments. Index.