The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co

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Broadway Books, 2008 - Business & Economics - 742 pages
27 Reviews

A grand and revelatory portrait of Wall Street’s most storied investment bank

Wall Street investment banks move trillions of dollars a year, make billions in fees, pay their executives in the tens of millions of dollars. But even among the most powerful firms, Lazard Frères & Co. stood apart. Discretion, secrecy, and subtle strategy were its weapons of choice. For more than a century, the mystique and reputation of the "Great Men" who worked there allowed the firm to garner unimaginable profits, social cachet, and outsized influence in the halls of power. But in the mid-1980s, their titanic egos started getting in the way, and the Great Men of Lazard jeopardized all they had built.

William D. Cohan, himself a former high-level Wall Street banker, takes the reader into the mysterious and secretive world of Lazard and presents a compelling portrait of Wall Street through the tumultuous history of this exalted and fascinating company.  Cohan deconstructs the explosive feuds between Felix Rohatyn and Steve Rattner, superstar investment bankers and pillars of New York society, and between the man who controlled Lazard, the inscrutable French billionaire Michel David-Weill, and his chosen successor, Bruce Wasserstein.

Cohan follows Felix, the consummate adviser, as he reshapes corporate America in the 1970s and 1980s, saves New York City from bankruptcy, and positions himself in New York society and in Washington. Felix’s dreams are dashed after the arrival of Steve, a formidable and ambitious former newspaper reporter. By the mid-1990s, as Lazard neared its 150th anniversary, Steve and Felix were feuding openly.
The internal strife caused by their arguments could not be solved by the imperious Michel, whose manipulative tendencies served only to exacerbate the trouble within the firm. Increasingly desperate, Michel took the unprecedented step of relinquishing operational control of Lazard to one of the few Great Men still around, Bruce Wasserstein, then fresh from selling his own M&A boutique, for $1.4 billion.  Bruce’s take: more than $600 million. But it turned out Great Man Bruce had snookered Great Man Michel when the Frenchman was at his most vulnerable. 

The LastTycoons is a tale of vaulting ambitions, whispered advice, worldly mistresses, fabulous art collections, and enormous wealth—a story of high drama in the world of high finance. 


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Review: The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co.

User Review  - Vitalijus Sostak - Goodreads

Lengthy book overburdened with details, reminds me of "Barbarians at the Gate". Gossipy parts are the best, of course, they give meaty insight on what internal politics/infighting in private M&A ... Read full review

Review: The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Frères & Co.

User Review  - Cybertraveller - Goodreads

Cohan is a thorough researcher and has made a candid picture of the people and motives behind Lazard. I admire his thoroughness and patience. On the other hand, I am so used to reading about a company ... Read full review


Great Men
Tomorrow the Lazard House Will Go Down
Original Sili
You Are Dealing with Greed and Power
chapters Felix the Fixer
The Savior of New York 1 34
The Sun King
Felix for President
The Heir Apparent
All the Responsibility but None of the Authority
He Lit Up a Humongous Cigar and Puffed It in Our Faces for Half an Hour
Lazard May Go Down Like the HtanicF
BidEmUp Bruce
Civil War
The End of a Dynasty

The Caneer Is Greed
The Vicar
The Boy Wonder
The Franchise
Its a White Mans World

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About the author (2008)

William D. Cohan was an award-winning investigative journalist before embarking on a seventeen-year career as an investment banker on Wall Street. He spent six years at Lazard Frères in New York and later became a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase & Co. He is a graduate of Duke University and received both an MS from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism and an MBA from its Graduate School of Business. He lives in New York City and Columbia County, New York.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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