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addabook - The Predators' Ball
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The Predators' Ball
The Inside Story of Drexel Burnham and the Rise of the JunkBond Raiders
Connie Bruck
read on December 1, 2010

I closed out the year reading about the same topic that I started it with, which seemed fitting. Michael Milken, Drexel Burnham, and the rockin' '80s. This book was actually written even before Den of Thieves, so it has very few details on the federal case against Milken. In fact, the book doesn't really cover his illegal activity very much at all... it's not even that condemning of him. It pretty much paints him as a visionary that bent the rules as he trail blazed into a brave new world.

At first I didn't like it. The book doesn't have the narrative that Den of Thieves (DoT) does, so reading it second makes it seem quite boring in comparison. There is no drive, just a timeline of events. But what it lacks in drama it makes up for with detail- the book goes into a lot more detail of the junk bond process, how it started, and how it took off. It gave background that I didn't get from DoT. More than anything else though, I hadn't really realized just how much Milken and DBL changed finance. He pretty much invented the corporate takeover.

Another quick takeaway here was just the power of investing in things that other people aren't into. The book has a long chapter on Carl Icahn and how started off making his fortune trading options. He was really interested in them at a time when no one else really was, right when they were beginning to get traded (before Black-Scholes), and found a way to make a killing.

Author Bio:

Connie Bruck has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1989. She writes about business and politics. Her piece “The Politics of Perception” won the National Magazine Award for Reporting. She has twice won the Front Page Award from the Newswomen’s Club of New York, for “Deal of the Year” and “Taking Down Tupac.” She has also won a Gerald Loeb Award for excellence in business reporting and the National Magazine Award for Reporting. She received the Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished business and financial journalism for her Profile of the billionaire Ron Burkle. Before joining The New Yorker, she was a staff writer at The American Lawyer for nine years. Her stories have also appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, and The Atlantic Monthly. Her article on Ivan Boesky in The Atlantic won the John Hancock Award for excellence in business and financial reporting. She is the author of three books: “Master of the Game,” “The Predators’ Ball,” and “When Hollywood Had a King.”