• The Lost Bank

  • The Story of Washington Mutual - The Biggest Bank Failure in American History
  • By: Kirsten Grind
  • Narrated by: Traber Burns
  • Length: 14 hrs and 7 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (505 ratings)

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The Lost Bank

By: Kirsten Grind
Narrated by: Traber Burns
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Publisher's Summary

During the most dizzying days of the financial crisis, Washington Mutual, a bank with hundreds of billions of dollars in its coffers, suffered a crippling bank run. The story of its final, brutal collapse in the autumn of 2008, and its controversial sale to JPMorgan Chase, is an astonishing account of how one bank lost itself to greed and mismanagement, and how the entire financial industry - and even the entire country - lost its way as well.

Kirsten Grind’s The Lost Bank is a magisterial and gripping account of these events, tracing the cultural shifts, the cockamamie financial engineering, and the hubris and avarice that made this incredible story possible. The men and women who become the central players in this tragedy - the regulators and the bankers, the home buyers and the lenders, the number crunchers and the shareholders - are heroes and villains, perpetrators and victims, often switching roles with one another as the drama unfolds.

Written as compellingly as the finest fiction, The Lost Bank makes it clear that the collapse of Washington Mutual was not just the largest bank failure in American history. It is a story of talismanic qualities, reflecting the incredible rise and the precipitous collapse of not only an institution, but of trust, fortunes, and the marketplaces for risk across the world.

About the author: Kirsten Grind has received more than a dozen national awards for her work, including a Pulitzer Prize finalist citation for her work covering the collapse of Washington Mutual. A reporter for the Wall Street Journal, she lives in New York City.

©2012 Kirsten Grind (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

“The transformation of Washington Mutual from folksy community lender to reckless 2000-branch behemoth is one of the epic stories of American finance…Grind tells this boom-bust story without lapsing into melodrama or malice, and her tale is all the more powerful for that.” (Sebastian Mallaby,  New York Times best-selling author)
“Kirsten Grind has written a first-rate accounting of the spectacular collapse of Washington Mutual and how behemoth JPMorgan Chase picked over its carcass. Thanks to Grind’s winning narrative, what was previously one of the less-well known financial disasters of September 2008 is now fully - and entertainingly - explicated.” (William D. Cohan,  New York Times best-selling author)
“Lucid, entertaining…One of the best accounts yet…of the Great Crash as it played out on a human scale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Sad and Angry by Turn

Any additional comments?

Wamu was my banks for over 25 years after they acquired a small Washington Savings and Loan where I had my account. I was both stunned and saddened by the demise of the bank. After this reading, I was also very angry. This is the story of how a marginal little financial institution became a good little financial institution became a questionable big financial institution became an evil, out of control institution! This gives great insight into the people behind the bank both honorable and not as well as some great insight into the financial misdeeds that led to our nationwide financial collapse. Strongly recommend the read.

8 people found this helpful

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Great Financial Crisis Book

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Not since the Enron books have I listened to such a good book about a corporate culture going from conservative and respectible to gambling and money-only oriented. Great story with good lessons for corporate America.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes.

6 people found this helpful

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Story that needed to be told

This little known part of the great banking crisis affected a lot of people in different ways. I had a loan with WaMu at the time they were failing. WaMu allowed one of my loans to be embezzled. by honoring obviously forged checks on the account; then claiming they couldn’t take the time to check signatures because...”they were automated and had no staff review.” WaMu openly admitted their security was almost nonexistent. It was difficult to find the same person working as it appeared that staff were leaving because of a pending closure by the FDIC. The transfer to Chase at first seemed like a good deal but they were worse than WaMu. This book gets bogged down discussing the fondness clients and staff had for the bank, but not serious enough to detract from the story. I recommend this story to anyone affected by the banking crises in 2006-2009.

4 people found this helpful

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Great book, sad story

I loved the book and the performance was great. I'll never forget the name, "killinger" and it will always remind me of this crazy period in history. It's amazing how he was allowed to ruin a great company. I feel sorry for the people who lost their jobs (not the mortgage team) and all the people who lost their savings in Washington Mutual stock. I live in California and throughout the book I kept thinking how happy I was with my fixed mortgage.

3 people found this helpful

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Former WAMU employee

It was interesting to read the story behind the story. I knew each of these people personally and could really relate to the people and events in the book. It did bring out several things that I was not aware of which explained some of the chaos that was going on at the time.

2 people found this helpful

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Best book on understanding the bank failures

The story is compelling and well written
The author paints a narrowed look into Washington Mutual's problems and also paints this into the broad sweep of what was happening around America.

2 people found this helpful

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Excellent book, a must read for anyone in banking

In this authoritative book, Kirsten Grind does an excellent job of showing how the company went from a successfully run company as late as 2001 to an absolute disaster in 2008 because of poor lending practices in its home loans division and a series of bad decisions on the top. She explores the topic from a wide range of perspectives including the decision makers at the top, the loan sales people, the customers, the shareholders and the regulators. Throughout the book, she is good about providing relevant numbers, be it total deposits, bank withdrawals, bank assets, losses, etc.

The author does well to not let her views color her writing. While Kerry Killinger almost singlehandedly let the company fail, she does give him credit for small things like acknowledging how Wall Street investors made him make ARM mortgage loans that were not in the customer's interest. She also gives him credit for his earlier successes, where there were several good acquisitions and consistently good performance.

After reading the book, I am left with the feeling that there were so many points in time when corrective action could have saved WAMU. Killinger could have listened to his Chief Risk Officer in 2005. The WAMU board could have installed a new CEO in 2007 or even at the start of 2008.

It would have been nice to have a female narrator, but the narrator does a good job, especially when quoting the male CEOs.

1 person found this helpful

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Great Book

The narrator has a good tone. The story is easy to follow and describes the humble beginnings of the bank to the down fall.

1 person found this helpful

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Waste of time and money!!

This book is a complete waste of time and money; reading the writing on a bathroom wall would be a better choice!

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Important and great book; mediocre narration

The book manages to cover 20 years of madness and then catastrophe in the U.S. real estate and banking industries all by telling a single story, which makes it a lot easier to follow and more compelling than a dry history. The narrator got on my nerves.