From the people behind the financial fraud and how they did it to why people continually fall prey to scam artists, Sarna outlines what actions you can take today to protect yourself from becoming the victim of tomorrow's "too good to be true" investment opportunity. History of Greed details how markets are manipulated, books are cooked, Ponzi schemes are hatched, and how the government only closes the barn door once the cows have all escaped.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Richard on 09-02-11
Genuinely disappointing (0/5*)
I was actually really interested in this book as an interesting insight into the vice of the financial world. Instead it's a bland, poorly written, factually inaccurate polemic against people who work in finance.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Philo on 27-08-12
Occasionally uneven or plodding, but spellbinding
I wouldn't call this a page-turner. Often it read like a series of newspaper articles. But, I have a fascination for fraud tales, and a legal background, and I really clicked with its thoroughness in describing the schemes, and also the procedural details of the "crime and punishment" side of the stories. I like the combo of enough story and enough technical detail to be satisfying on both fronts. The stories are not an exhaustive review of frauds from tulip days to Madoffs'. The narrative skips across big stretches of history and quickly lands in modern times. But there is no lack of lurid fraud schemes in recent years -- the most famous are here. The Madoff aftermath story was not completed as of this publication -- "The Wizard of Lies" audiobook goes deeper in detail and gives a more updated story of that. All in all, though, I am very satisfied with this book.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Carolyn on 14-04-14
Not a History Book; Not a Good Book
This book is by far the most boring and misrepresented book I've ever gotten from Audible. I have enjoyed dense history books about subjects like the 1919 Peace Conference and I also enjoyed a very detailed book about the frauds perpetuated at Enron, so I don't bore easily and I am not lost in complex financial terminology. This book was just awful. I went into it expecting information about historical financial fraud - stories about cons and financial schemes sounds like an interesting book, right?
Wrong. Not only do the historical frauds take up a pitifully small part of the book, they are told like an encyclopedia - no narrative, no effort to make them engaging, just facts. I've never read or listened to a history book this boring, and that's saying something, considering what I read for fun. The worst part is, I know at least some of these stories can be interesting to learn about because a pop history podcast has covered some of them briefly and they were interesting (such as Tulip Mania) - hence why I bought this book looking for more details. This book had good material to work with and it still failed to make things engaging!
More importantly, this is not a book about the "history of greed". I cannot figure out why it was marketed that way. At least three-quarters of the book is about recent financial frauds (a disproportionate percentage of that is just about Bernie Madoff), and, again, they are told like encyclopedia entries (complete with references like websites and case numbers), with no effort to engage the reader at all or create some sort of narrative. I suppose one silver lining is that the book is scrupulously neutral, only stating facts proven in court in most cases, but honestly that made it worse, not better. I only listened to the whole book because I wanted to make sure I didn't skip something redeeming before reviewing it. There was nothing redeeming about any of it. Even the author's opinion about how to handle financial fraud at the end was dry and uninteresting!
Unlike other reviewers, I didn't even find this overly informative about the financial industry. I found it repetitive and, even as a person without a lot of knowledge about the financial industry, I didn't find much of the information about how financial fraud happens surprising or enlightening. Besides, that's not the book's stated purpose, to teach me about the details of the financial industry, and even if that had been its purpose, it didn't do that particularly well either.
The narration was just okay. I don't think even the best narrator could have made this better, but it wasn't fantastic narration even setting aside the book's faults.
I wish this book had been better, because I really wanted to enjoy it after listening to over 30 hours about Enron and enjoying that. Unfortunately, it doesn't do a good job of being a history book and it doesn't do a good job of being a book about financial fraud either. I can't say I would recommend this to anyone.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful