• Black Edge

  • Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street
  • By: Sheelah Kolhatkar
  • Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith
  • Length: 12 hrs and 32 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (2,103 ratings)

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Black Edge  By  cover art

Black Edge

By: Sheelah Kolhatkar
Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith
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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Bestseller

The story of the billionaire trader Steven A. Cohen, the rise and fall of his hedge fund, SAC Capital, and the largest insider trading investigation in history—for readers of The Big Short, Den of Thieves, and Dark Money.

The rise over the last two decades of a powerful new class of billionaire financiers marks a singular shift in the American economic and political landscape. Their vast reserves of concentrated wealth have allowed a small group of big winners to write their own rules of capitalism and public policy. How did we get here? Through meticulous reporting and powerful storytelling, New Yorker staff writer Sheelah Kolhatkar shows how Steve Cohen became one of the richest and most influential figures in finance—and what happened when the Justice Department put him in its crosshairs.

Cohen and his fellow pioneers of the hedge fund industry didn't lay railroads, build factories, or invent new technologies. Rather, they made their billions through speculation, by placing bets in the market that turned out to be right more often than wrong—and for this they have gained not only extreme personal wealth but formidable influence throughout society. Hedge funds now manage nearly $3 trillion in assets, and competition between them is so fierce that traders will do whatever they can to get an edge.

Cohen was one of the industry's greatest success stories. He mastered poker in high school, went off to Wharton, and in 1992 launched SAC Capital, which he built into a $15 billion empire, almost entirely on the basis of his wizardlike stock trading. He cultivated an air of mystery, reclusiveness, and extreme excess, building a 35,000 square foot mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut, and amassing one of the largest private art collections in the world. On Wall Street, Cohen was revered as a genius.

That image was shattered when SAC became the target of a sprawling, seven-year government investigation. Labeled by prosecutors as a "magnet for market cheaters" whose culture encouraged the relentless hunt for "edge"—and even "black edge," or inside information—SAC was ultimately indicted in connection with a vast insider trading scheme, even as Cohen himself was never charged.

Black Edge offers a revelatory look at the gray zone in which so much of Wall Street functions, and a window into the transformation of the U.S. economy. It's a riveting, true-life legal thriller that takes readers inside the government's pursuit of Cohen and his employees, and raises urgent questions about the power and wealth of those who sit at the pinnacle of modern Wall Street.

©2017 Sheelah Kolhatkar (P)2017 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Fast-paced and filled with twists, Black Edge has the grip of a thriller. It is also an essential exposé of our times - a work that reveals the deep rot in our financial system. Everyone should read this book." (David Grann, New York Times best-selling author of The Lost City of Z)
"A tour de force of groundbreaking reporting and brilliant storytelling, a revealing inside account of how the Feds track a high-profile target - and, just as important, an unsettling portrayal of how Wall Street works today." (Jeffrey Toobin, New York Times best-selling author of American Heiress)
"Well-written, with pointed characterizations of the ambitious players and their motives, this book is highly recommended for readers interested in finance, crime, and politics." ( Library Journal)

What listeners say about Black Edge

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
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    4 out of 5 stars

Decent story, if at times redundant

WRITING/STORY: Good, not great. Balances the tedium of law/finance and the intrigue of white collar crime. A bit redundant, especially when revisiting concepts or using analogies.

NARRATION: Ok. Not a lot of energy put forth, but this is non-fiction, so I wasn't expecting an over-the-top performance. The narrator handled dialogue quite well.

EDIT/SOUND: Lots of missing consonants on the end of words - enough that it became distracting. Also could have used some treatment for sibilance. It's important to note that I could not listen to this title faster than 1.25x speed. It may have been the subject matter, but it took a lot more attention than most books.

15 people found this helpful

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Amazing book about trading that feels like an adventure novel

I’m a professional trader with over 20 years Wall St experience. This book is amazingly well researched and the story feels like an
Adventure novel even though it’s all true. It takes complex elements and simplified them. The narrator has a great voice. Highly recommend.

5 people found this helpful

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Not the ending you want to hear!

This was a captivating story. However, it left me with a sinking feeling at the end: It was like watching a two-hour movie only to see the bad guy ride off at the end with all the money; all of his henchman who had died in battle somehow come back to life and all those fighting for justice end up converting over to the dark side.

5 people found this helpful

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Phenomenal

Best book I've listened to in 2017 so far. Right up there with "The Greatest Trade Ever", "Too Big to Fail", "The Big Short" and "Flash Boys".

3 people found this helpful

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Wow!! Didn’t want it to end

I’m a big fan of the show Billions. This real life insight to Steve Cohen is literally jaw dropping. My favorite audiobook I’ve listened to. Felt sorry for some of the guys that took a fall, but there was a Strong since of loyalty to some of his top guys who never turned informant against Cohen. I hope Cohen has taken care of there families. Phenomenal audiobook!

2 people found this helpful

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phenomenal listen

well researched book. gives a fascinating glimpse into hedge funds. narrator is top notch.
flew by.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent storytelling

The author did an incredible job capturing so much detail for the sake of highlighting the underlying themes about greed and justice, and portraying the divide between the lifestyles and motivations of the criminals in the story and the SEC & FBI. I particularily appreciate that the author often reminds the reader of who is who, since it's very easy to get lost in the sea of characters that the are involved in the story. Loved the narration; I felt like the dialouge scenes were really brought to life and sounded very real. Overall, awesome book.

2 people found this helpful

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A solid telling; interesting characters

Most interesting to me was the clever design baked into the business organization itself and its internal protocols to prevent the top guy from directly, technically violating the insider trading laws. It is unclear whether that is top guy Steve Cohen's work of legal art, in particular, or some advisor's. But Cohen is a guy who gets things like that lined up sharply. There is a meticulousness in it, and obviously a great intellect behind it. Steve Cohen is not a guy who lets details slip by. We see a portrait of an intensely analytical, laser-focused moneymaker, from the poker days in college onward. He seems like a lopsided person, which translates to a moneymaking machine, turned on full-force 24/7. On the other hand, admitting up front this portrait (in virtue of his private nature) is very incomplete, the visible things can be very off-putting, at least to me. His art purchase grandstanding strikes me as mostly puerile, nihilistic showing-off, despite the slobbering blandishments of the sycophants who make money off him. He would nickel and-dime an ex-wife, it is suggested, spending plenty to do so, but think nothing of spending over $100 million for a status-oozing art object to hang in a hallway. No way would I trade places with this guy, But he is fun to watch. In some weird way it is tragic, so grandiose and yet so seemingly shallow. But this could be largely the optics of this book. He seems forever anxiously internally impoverished and frantic to acquire symbols to pretend otherwise. The ultimate object of juvenile-minded nihilism must be that shark in the formaldehyde tank he spent $8 million for. His intelligence is obviously formidable, and I would like a more 3-D portrayal of that, but that is not easy for anyone to provide, as he's very private, of course. We have infinitely more on J.P. Morgan and even Michael Milken. The view here seems a bit one-dimensional. Or maybe the guy is. And sadly, as his story progresses, we are not treated to a lot of pivotal deal details or methods, as these are very closely guarded, and that would probably have helped a lot to display what must be his genius. The explanations we do receive are well laid-out and patiently edited and understandable to any novice/layperson. Obscure terms are defined. The story flows very straightforwardly, and the narration is a good match. Anyone who has not been around modern criminal investigations gets a fair look at how they work, including some of the dynamics affecting prosecutors' decisions in a political and legal hothouse like Manhattan. The character of the convicted underling, Michael Martoma, is interesting in his own way. All these folks show an intense drive for success of a kind that built this country, but can get on the wrong track, and lose all context and meaning.

2 people found this helpful

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much depth in the insider trading scandals

I like the book. I thought the author did well done research into the other trading scandals and walked us through a timeline of how the events occur and the pressures the stock Traders felt. It's unfortunate that Steve Cohen did not comment on the book but that is understandable. The atmosphere with the attorneys is exactly like I see it all the time. Nobody wants to lose a case and everybody wants to appear tough.

1 person found this helpful

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The Teflon Billionaire

To learn how Steven A Cohen got away with doing everything he wanted to do is crazy. Watching Billionaire on Showtime was what got me interested in this book. It's well worth the audio version story gets slow and some points but overall it's a great book. now I'm off to read the Billionaire's Apprentice dealing with Raj Rajaratnam.

1 person found this helpful