Thursday, March 25, 2010


In the midst of everything else lately, I've been fortunate enough to read some excellent books, so here are a few titles and descriptions.

Too Big To Fail (by Andrew Sorkin)
This is a tremendously detailed recounting of the stunning financial crisis that nearly dismantled the U.S. economy (and most probably, the world's) in late 2008. This is, by far, the most comprehensive reporting done on what was going on behind the scenes, and it's as engaging as it is frightening. It's a great and gripping read.

The Greatest Trade Ever: The Behind-the-Scenes Story of How John Paulson Defied Wall Street and Made Financial History (by Gregory Zuckerman)
This is a related book to "Too Big To Fail" in that it looks at the crisis from the perspectives of a few investors who, brilliantly, saw the crash coming and made billions of dollars. It's also the story of a few investors who saw the crash coming, but wound up with nothing. Ironically, the people who made the most had to possess two qualities: one, the ability to correctly analyze the amount of risk banks were taking, and two, a single-minded determination to risk everything on the trade (in almost all cases, a terrible idea).

No Angel: My Harrowing Undercover Journey to the Inner Circle of the Hells Angels (by Jay Dobyns)
This is a fascinating recounting of an ATF's agent infiltration of the Hell's Angels. It's unflinching, and Dobyns reveals details of both the Hells Angels and himself, his success turning into a Faustian bargain that threatens his own personality. This is a book that borders on the surreal, a fist through the looking glass.

The Accountant's Story: Inside the Violent World of the MedellĂ­n Cartel (by David Fisher and Roberto Escobar)
Speaking of surreal, what better way to learn previously unkown details about Pablo Escobar than from his brother? What I particularly enjoy about this book is that while Roberto Escobar is obviously biased, it's not that difficult to spot those places, and the sheer volume of details he provides about his brother's career in cocaine trafficking is completely fascinating.

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