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Too Big to Fail
The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System--and Themselves
Andrew Ross Sorkin
read on January 1, 2010

I don't really know how to characterize this book. It's somewhat like Den of Thieves, in that it sort of dramatizes actual events. Sorkin is an (alarmingly young) financial columnist for the New York Times, and writes the inside story of the financial crash of 2008. The book covers the Bear Sterns sale to JPMorgan, Lehman's filing, AIG's various issues, TARP, and the Wachovia sale to Wells Fargo. More importantly, the book covers all the deals in between that no one ever heard of... everything that almost happened but fell through at the eleventh hour. The book ends right after TARP was implemented, when Treasury directly injected cash into all the major banks, becoming socialism-esque investors in each of them.

For the most part, it's an extremely engaging book. It was really interesting to see behind the scenes at the big Wall Street firms. Mainly, it was just a great refresher on everything that went down in 2008. The book makes pretty much no effort to analyze how or why the crisis happened, and only in the epilogue it opines on any lessens we might or should learn from the whole ordeal.

I'm left uneasy about the whole thing though.. because I still don't know what, besides the basic timeline and factual events, was fact vs fiction. I don't know if Sorkin is a great investigator with deep, well connected sources... or if he just completely fictionalized the entire thing. If this book is all true, it's an amazing accomplishment. If not, which is certainly what I suspect, then the book should be very clear about it.

Hank Paulson has a memoir coming out next month that will actually have an insider's perspective. I'm anxious to see how much of it will be in line with this book.

Author Bio:

Andrew Ross Sorkin (born February 19, 1977) is an American journalist and author. He is a financial columnist for The New York Times and a co-anchor of CNBC's Squawk Box. He is also the founder and editor of DealBook, a financial news service published by The New York Times. He wrote the bestselling book Too Big to Fail and co-produced a movie adaptation of the book for HBO Films.