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The Predators' Ball: The Inside Story of Drexel Burnham and the Rise of the JunkBond Raiders Paperback – May 31 1989


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The Predators' Ball: The Inside Story of Drexel Burnham and the Rise of the JunkBond Raiders + Barbarians At The Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco + Den of Thieves
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; Updated edition (May 31 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140120904
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140120905
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 2.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #204,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. E. Robinson on Feb. 7 2004
Format: Paperback
The book is great but it leaves you shaking your head in disbelief. One must conclude that there is no effective control by the SEC over companies on the NYSE and NADAQ.
I found this to be just a riveting book to read. It reminded me of the movie Wall Street although from what I gather Michael Milken at Drexel Burnham was not as good looking as Michael Douglas and he wore a hair piece and drove an older Oldsmobile, not a Ferrari.
Milken while reading the Wall Street Journal and similar material on the bus going to business school in Philadelphia came up with this idea of selling the junk bonds. Once he graduated and was employed he pushed that idea, similar to the way Fred Smith pushed Fed.Ex. - another college idea. It comes clear in the book, just shouting out at you, that he had lots of help. Banks helped him, brokers helped him, other companies helped him, he opened a new office for Drexel in LA and in general just took over that company - all because people knew and appreciated that he was going to make buckets of money. His whole scheme was in fact similar to a pyramid scheme with everyone getting fat fees that were supposed to be re-paid down stream by the successful company. The Predator's Ball did exist as real annual social get together where the bankers, brokers, and the borrowing companies got together for a night of partying. The victims - the shareholders - were not invited.
Like every Ponzi scheme at some point reality had to set in and it failed. That is what this book is about. Sure we can learn but apparently we are immune or unable to learn from history because the market over inflated itself and the Nasdaq went to 5000+ a decade later, and we had World Com and Enron. It is also remarkable that after taking so much money he got off with a light jail sentence and a big fine ($500. million) that Millken could pay.
Entertaining read.
4 stars.
Jack in Toronto
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Format: Paperback
One of three must read books on the Michael Milken, Drexel Burnham Lambert 1970's & 80's era on Wall Street. Wonderful storytelling and accounting of the many deals financed with junk bonds by Milken & gang. The other two books, well written as well on Milken, are "Den of Thieves" by Pulitzer Prize winning WSJ writer James B. Stewart, written after Bruck's Ball, and "A License to Steal: The Untold Story of Micheal Milken and the Conspiracy to Bilk the Nation" by Benjamin J. Stein, written last of the three. Stay away from the fantasy work of Jesse Kornbluth's "Highly Confident -- The Crime and Punishment of Michael Milken". It's an authorized version of Milken's life, bought & paid for by Milken himself, who underwrote hatchet jobs on Bruck & Stein to discredit their stellar work.
The Predators' Ball does a great job of getting inside the various deals Milken pulled off and how they happened, along with a good history of Michael Milken. Amazing stuff, considering the multi-billion dollar nature of those deals... financed with nothing but junk. The sad thing is, is that if Milken had been caught in this current era of NO public tolerance for Wall Street misdeeds in 2002, he would be serving a hell of a lot more time then the mere 24 months he actually ended up doing on his ten year sentence. 98 counts, he cut a deal to plead guilty to six of them. He walked out of jail after a brief time of reflection, with his Billion$ still stached away in his foriegn bank accounts at his disposal. Crime did pay and pay well for Michael Milken. Stein's License to Steal book estimated that Milken generated some $24 Billion in commissions & fees, from obscene margins & unearthly volume. King of the Universe indeed... and walked away with a mere $1 Billion slap on the wrist fine and a few nights in jail. These three books are better than fiction or novels. History, in Wall Street storybook fashion. The more things change, the more things stay the same.
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Format: Paperback
Based on the other reviews here you can gather what the book covers so I will not repeat that detail. I thought the most valuable parts of the book covered the way Milken operated, both his personality and the business he created and directed. There are a lot of interesting details covering him, but I thought that was a flaw in the book, it did not cover more of the other main characters in the 80's Junk Bond and M&A activity - people like Bosky, KKR etc. The book also describes how the Milken office because so powerful it was given free reign, the very point that ruined this company - similar to the Houston office of AA? The book also has the underlining theme that this activity and people were the worst part of American business and personal greed, that is an unfair characterization and you should keep that in mind while reading the book, a lot of good came out of this decade, it was not all doomed to failure. If this is your first book covering this topic I would suggest you read "Den of Thieves" by Stewart first, it was better written and more interesting. This is a good second step.
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Format: Paperback
This book, Liars Poker, Den of Thieves and Barbarians at the Gate are the books that define Wall Street in the 1980's. This book was an outstanding coverage of the age of the junk bond raiders. Junk bonds were the favorite financial tool of corporate raiders everywhere. The junk bond was also used to finance many new businesses (Donald Trump,Atlantic City and MCI are the most memorable to me). This book also covers Michael the driving force behind Drexel Burnham and the King of the junk bond.
The book is focused on the rise and fall of Drexel and the associated personalities of the firm. The author does a very good job of illustrating the power Milken had within Drexel, how his office on the West Coast went from being a backwater to accounting for the bulk of the firms revenue, and how Milken's subsequent removal left Drexel crippled past the point of healing. I felt that the book does a good job of explaining the brilliance of Milken and the high-yield bond market that he created and nurtured, and the catch-22 that led to his criminalization.
At the end of the day I find these kind of books to be financial humor more than anything because 1) these guys worked their butts off (2) made tons of money and then (3) a lot of them lost their shirts, ran into difficulties or (3) ended up in jail. Yes, they are rich by the boat load but it isn't the way I want to make a living.
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