• Too Big to Fail

  • The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System - and Themselves
  • By: Andrew Ross Sorkin
  • Narrated by: William Hughes
  • Length: 21 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (2,756 ratings)

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Too Big to Fail

By: Andrew Ross Sorkin
Narrated by: William Hughes
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Publisher's Summary

The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System - and Themselves

A real-life thriller about the most tumultuous period in America's financial history by an acclaimed New York Times reporter. Andrew Ross Sorkin delivers the first true, behind-the-scenes, moment-by-moment account of how the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression developed into a global tsunami.

From inside the corner office at Lehman Brothers to secret meetings in South Korea and the corridors of Washington, Too Big to Fail is the definitive story of the most powerful men and women in finance and politics grappling with success and failure, ego and greed, and, ultimately, the fate of the world's economy.

"We've got to get some foam down on the runway!" a sleepless Timothy Geithner, the then-president of the Federal Reserve of New York, would tell Henry M. Paulson, the Treasury secretary, about the catastrophic crash the world's financial system would experience. Through unprecedented access to the players involved, Too Big to Fail re-creates all the drama and turmoil, revealing neverdisclosed details and elucidating how decisions made on Wall Street over the past decade sowed the seeds of the debacle.

This true story is not just a look at banks that were "too big to fail"; it is a real-life thriller with a cast of bold-faced names who themselves thought they were too big to fail.

©2009 Andrew Ross Sorkin (P)2009 Penguin Audiobooks
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Andrew Ross Sorkin pens what may be the definitive history of the banking crisis." ( The Atlantic Monthly)
"Andrew Ross Sorkin has written a fascinating, scene-by-scene saga of the eyeless trying to march the clueless through Great Depression II." (Tom Wolfe)

What listeners say about Too Big to Fail

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Best Book About Meltdown

This is the 4th book I have listened to on the market meltdown of 2008 and this is by far the best. The others focused on the downturn from the perspective of a particular firm while this one gave detailed descriptions of the events that led to it. Clearly, Sorkin has gotten incredible access to the big players both in the government and the private sector to put together an absoltuely riveting book. I have listened to a long list of books on the economy and finance and this is by far my favorite. It's a great listen.

40 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly Revealing

Initially, I didn't even consider listening to this book since I'm well aware of current events, and I thought it would be repetitive. After all, didn't we get enough of the daily harping on the factors contributing to our economic crisis? But The Economist listed it as one of the best books of the year, so I thought I would give it a try. In fact, Too Big to Fail is not a dull chronology of the events leading up to Lehman's failure and the creation of TARP; rather, it exposes the sentiments, conversations, decisions, and intentions of every major player and government figure involved with Wall Street's financial rescue. It reads like a suspense novel and is full of gossipy, fascinating tidbits which one would never hear on the news.

Sorkin's awareness of private conversations and correspondence between government regulators and the investment banking firms' staff is absolutely incredible. Since there haven't been any lawsuits accusing Sorkin of slander, I can only assume that they are truthful portrayals. He must have convinced friends, spouses, government staffers and high-level figures alike to recount everything they had witnessed, heard, or said. I don't know how he managed to do all of that and publish the book in such a short amount of time, but it's pretty impressive.

37 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Somewhat disappointing

Just 3 stars for this work covering an enormously important subject.
If you subscribe to "People" magazine, or it's ilk, this coverage of the melt down may be of greater interest to you. It is mostly about the background and nature of the people involved, not the detailed events and mistakes that caused this disaster.

31 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Don't Listen to this Book---Read It

"Too Big to Fail" is a masterpiece of reporting and as exciting as an adventure novel. It deserves to win the Pulitzer Prize. The print edition contains an eight-page list of characters and it's not possible to follow the complex narrative without reference to it. Aside from the newsmakers (Paulson, Geithner, Bernacke) many of the key players are unknown and some of them appear only briefly or after long absenses. Without the "who-is-who" reference guide in the print edition, the reader is sure to lose some of the important trends and actions in this fascinating story. I could seldom remember which player was associated with which entity. Why can't audio book publishes make the author's list of characters availble for download? I'm sorry I listened to this book; reading it would have given me a better understanding of the events and characters.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

We Got to Get Some Foam on the Runway

Too Big to Fail is Sorkin's telling of the global economic meltdown and the formation of TARP. This is some fine journalism and wonderful writing. Even if you don't follow all of the characters (which you probably will), just listening along with give you a feel and understanding of what was at stake and what was accomplished. Certainly, I found the characters humanized and now appreciate the struggles that Timothy Geithner and Henry Paulson faced. I appreciate what these men and others did to bring stability to the economy.

This book is well written and read. The research is great. If you are old enough you may see the Keystone cops running the streets. Lets just hope that the outcomes benefit us as much as the book informs and entertains.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

History of the 2008 Reconstruction of Wall Street

This book is a detailed account of the fall of Lehman Brothers, the reorganization and mergers of Goldman-Sachs, Morgan-Stanley, Merrill-Lynch, Wachovia-Wells Fargo, the genesis of the TARP fund, and the nationalization of the banks. The story gives the listener the sense of the desperation and breakneck pace of the total reorganization of Wall Street and US National Banking. The key protagonists in this history-memoir are the Dartmouth alums Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner who were facing down what they thought was an imminent economic collapse and the pressure points they used to avert the disaster. If there is any one lesson from this, it is that the fall of Lehman was mostly a matter of bad timing and the tension between Paulson and Fuld. The book does not seek to analyze the root economic causes of the fall of Wall Street other than excessive risk-taking and over-leveraging and does not provide the details of the accounting mischief like House of Cards and Smarted Guys in the Room. But the human story behind the deals is well depicted. It is a long but a compelling listen.

20 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Better than Dune

While the title of this review may be seen as heresy by the hardcore Sci-Fi fans out there, this is one instance where the drama of real events surpasses even the greatest drama fiction can muster. The English language lacks sufficient adjectives to properly extol the writing and events of Too Big Too Fail. In addition to the superb recounting of the events leading to the collapse, William Hughes does an excellent narration. I have already recommended Too Big Too Fail to my friends and family, and I would recommend it to anyone with the slightest interest in the economic events of 2008.

19 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Tremendous book!

Excellent book! It is an informative as one could hope, but as exciting as a great movie. Well done!

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Well written, performed and fascinating

This makes our recent financial history something between a spy novel and paulson biography. If you are interesting in contemporary issues and how our world is currently being formed READ THIS.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Wonderful informative inside story

This book straddles great spaces, across times. Unless you have the big picture in mind when you listen, you will think the author is ranting about Lehman and Geithner alone.
The book starts with descriptions of each personality; Dick Fuld, Geithner, Paulson so that when the fun really starts you can easily relate to their behavior with the background the author has provided earlier.
Half of the book is about Lehman's hurtle into bankruptcy and how Fuld, because of his greed and head-in-sand approach prevented Korean investors, and almost everyone from buying Lehman. It also discusses how Lehman's complaint about short sellers was not acted upon by Paulson, who suddenly acted on short sellers when they started attacking Fortress Goldman.
It also states how bankers from Morgan stanley and Goldman high-fived each other when they hear the Fed is bailing out AIG.
We also hear the background as to where the magical number of $700bn came into TARP.
All through the book, one thing becomes clear: Banks can and will expect the government to bail them out when they are in trouble but are very reluctant to share the profits with the government.

10 people found this helpful