The title of the book promises to give the inside story of the collapse of Lehman Brothers. However, in the first one third of the book the author (Larry McDonald) describes his family and educational background as well as his way into the financial industry. Of course some information about the history of the author is useful to understand his role and attitude to the whole matter, but I am quite certain that more than hundred pages on that are way too much. In the other two thirds of the book the author eventually starts to describe how the busniess, and later Lehman Brothers, worked (from his point of view) and essentially how vicious and irresponsible most of the guys in the financiual industry and on top of them all Dick Fuld, then CEO of Lehman Brothers, behaved ahead of the collapse.
The book actually includes some very interesting information on the way the system worked and how and why Lehman Brothers collapsed and subsequently almost the whole international financial system. In particular, the author explains very well the connection between loads of money, politics, provision-driven local mortgage advisors, irresponsible regional banks and greedy and irresponsible executives. He describes in detail the reckless and irresponsible behaviour of Dick Fuld and attributes most, if not the whole responsibility for Lehman's collapse to Mr. Fuld. However, because of the way it is written I always felt I am rather reading the autobiography of Larry McDonald himself, who - surprise - knew before that the whole thing was going to burst and that Dick Fuld was a lunatic. Of course, Mr. McDonald had absolutely nothing to do with the whole matter, despite being the vice president of distressed debt and covertible securities trading at Lehman Brothers at the time of the collapse.
The book is definitely written for the average guy. Even complicated matters are described in a way which makes it easy to understand them. One does not need to be an expert on banking and finance to understand it. The English is also quite easy to unerstand for a non- native - speaker (like me).
In summary, I would recommend the book, if you want to have some really interesting insight into the financial industry and some background information on the financial crisis. You just have to be aware that it is not a thoroughly compiled report, but rather the story of a guy who worked his way from a rundown housing quarter to become an executive in the financial industry, but who, of course, is not vicious and greedy, but only lived his own american dream. Th ebook is interesting, but not really entertaining.
Although somewhat entertaining, this book is rather uninformative and disappointing. Readers learn little about why the development and sales of CDOs lead to disaster. Gillian Teit's 'Foold Gold' is much better in this respect. The book follows many side stories which have little to do with the key story. The author's suggestion that Bill Clinton was in part responsible for the crisis because he promoted undiscriminatory lending seems laughable. Bottom line: there are much better book out on this topic.
To be precise, I would give this book 2.5 stars. It helps to gain a first insight into the brokerage houses on Wall Street, though the perspective is very much limited by the author's position in the management hierarchy at Lehman Brothers. As a trader ultimately affected by the collapse of Lehman, the author's view on the top management and other participants of the event is surely biased. For a more objective chronology of the last financial earthquake, I would prefer Sorkin's "Too Big to Fail".