Feature

Book of the week: Crash of the Titans by Greg Farrell

Farrell's focus is the collapse of Merrill Lynch and near-collapse of Bank of America, which he traces to a culture that put the “preservation of bonuses” above all else.

(Crown Business, $27)

Greg Farrell’s “gossipy” new book retells the story of the Wall Street meltdown with an emphasis on executive-suite greed, said Kathyrn Canavan in USA Today. The collapse of Merrill Lynch and near-collapse of Bank of America are Farrell’s ostensible focus, but with “eye-popping” details he builds a case that the crisis was a direct result of an industry that put the “preservation of bonuses” above all else. The “culture of opulence” had reached “levels of tragicomic excess,” said Devin Leonard in Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Onetime Merrill CEO Stan O’Neal took heat for insisting on a private elevator, but his “regular-guy” successor John Thain green-lighted a $1.2 million office makeover, then “pestered his board for a $40 million bonus” at the very moment the firm was going under. While Farrell’s juicy stories lack clear sourcing, the level of detail suggests that the Financial Times veteran had access to the big shots he berates. “Of course, some don’t have much else to do these days.”

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