42 books like Too Big to Fail

By Andrew Ross Sorkin,

Here are 42 books that Too Big to Fail fans have personally recommended if you like Too Big to Fail. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Liar's Poker

Paddy Hirsch Author Of The Devil's Half Mile

From my list on glimpse into the dark heart of the financial markets (without being bored to tears).

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m a career financial and business journalist, only recently turned novelist. I’m obsessed with the way that history repeats itself in the financial markets and that we never seem to learn our lessons. Fear and greed have always driven the behavior of bankers, traders, and investors; and they still do today, only barely inhibited by our regulatory system. I want to help people understand how markets work, and I like combining fiction with fact to explain these systems and how they’re abused. With that in mind, I work during the day as a reporter at NPR and by night as a scribbler of historical fiction with a financial twist.

Paddy's book list on glimpse into the dark heart of the financial markets (without being bored to tears)

Paddy Hirsch Why did Paddy love this book?

I love this book because it reads like a fictional tale about the modern financial markets, and yet it’s all absolutely true!

I am still staggered by some of the stories that Lewis tells about the real-life characters who worked on Wall Street back in the 1980s. And I’m in awe of the colorful way he describes and explains the way the bond markets work—no easy task.

Not only did he bring the go-go days of the 80s to life for me, but he also gave me a solid grounding in the machinations of the financial markets, helping me in both my writing and journalism careers.

By Michael Lewis,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked Liar's Poker as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Lewis was fresh out of Princeton and the London School of Economics when he landed a job at Salomon Brothers, one of Wall Street's premier investment firms. During the next three years, Lewis rose from callow trainee to bond salesman, raking in millions for the firm and cashing in on a modern-day gold rush. Liar's Poker is the culmination of those heady, frenzied years-a behind-the-scenes look at a unique and turbulent time in American business. From the frat-boy camaraderie of the forty-first-floor trading room to the killer instinct that made ambitious young men gamble everything on a high-stakes game…


Book cover of More Money Than God: Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite

Robin Wigglesworth Author Of Trillions: How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever

From my list on financial history that are genuinely gripping.

Why am I passionate about this?

I ended up in financial journalism by happenstance (it was pretty much the only corner of the media world that was still hiring when I graduated in the early 2000s). But I fell in love with it. To understand the world, you have to understand money. Whether you like it or not, it is the hidden wiring that binds us all together. I’ve found that reading history books on finance and economics has helped me better understand what is going on today, so I hope the books on this list will help you do the same. 

Robin's book list on financial history that are genuinely gripping

Robin Wigglesworth Why did Robin love this book?

A history of hedge funds might seem like a weird recommendation by someone who has written a paean to passive investing.

But my favourite books use a subject to tell a much broader story, and Mallaby’s definitive book on the hedge industry manages to show how even the most illustrious investing careers can fizzle out as market regimes ebb and flow.  

By Sebastian Mallaby,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked More Money Than God as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book of its kind: a fascinating and entertaining examination of hedge funds today Shortlisted for the Financial Times/Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year Award 'An enormously satisfying book: a gripping chronicle of the cutting edge of the financial markets and a fascinating perspective on what was going on in these shadowy institutions as the crash hit' Observer Wealthy, powerful, and potentially dangerous, hedge-find managers have emerged as the stars of twenty-first century capitalism. Based on unprecedented access to the industry, More Money Than God provides the first authoritative history of hedge funds. This is the inside story…


Book cover of The Great Crash 1929

Matthew P. Fink Author Of The Unlikely Reformer: Carter Glass and Financial Regulation

From my list on American financial history.

Why am I passionate about this?

I was always interested in American history and studied at Brown University under an outstanding professor of American economic history, James Blaine Hedges.   During my career at the mutual fund association I often approached issues from an historical perspective. For example:  Why did Congress draft legislation in a particular way?  How would past events likely affect a regulator’s decisions today?  As a lawyer I had been trained to write carefully and precisely.  As a lobbyist I learned the need to pre

Matthew's book list on American financial history

Matthew P. Fink Why did Matthew love this book?

The book does an outstanding job in describing the people and events that produced the October 1929 stock market crash in a highly entertaining style. Galbraith wrote more like a witty and insightful journalist than the award-winning economist that he was. This is a must-read for anyone who wants to learn about American financial history. The book is a model for writers who want to educate non-experts about public policy issues.

By John Kenneth Galbraith,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Great Crash 1929 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'One of the most engrossing books I have ever read' Daily Telegraph

John Kenneth Galbraith's now-classic account of the 1929 stock market collapse remains the definitive book on the most disastrous cycle of boom and bust in modern times.

Vividly depicting the causes, effects, aftermath and long-term consequences of financial meltdown, Galbraith also describes the people and the corporations who were affected by the catastrophe. With its depiction of the 'gold-rush fantasy' ingrained in America's psychology, The Great Crash 1929 remains a penetrating study of human greed and folly.


Book cover of Fool's Gold: The Inside Story of J.P. Morgan and How Wall St. Greed Corrupted Its Bold Dream and Created a Financial Catastrophe

Philip Augar Author Of The Bank That Lived a Little: Barclays in the Age of the Very Free Market

From my list on financial history.

Why am I passionate about this?

By the late nineties, I had lost faith in the industry where I had made a living for twenty years. Deregulation on Wall St and in the City had left investment banking with a business model riddled with conflict of interest. The rewards spiralled out of control and the businesses became too complicated for the regulators to supervise. I have a doctorate in history and had been a top-ranked investment analyst in several sectors. I took an idea to Penguin and my first book, The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism, was published in 2001. I've since written six more, and contributed regularly to the Financial Times and BBC.      

Philip's book list on financial history

Philip Augar Why did Philip love this book?

The Great Financial Crisis of 2008 might look like a storm that blew up out of nowhere but it had been brewing for a decade or more in the murky world of structured credit. Written by one of the first journalists to see the problem coming and skillfully unravelling complexity through the story of a small band of derivatives experts, Fool’s Gold shows the unintended consequences of financial innovation as it spun out of control. 

By Gillian Tett,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Fool's Gold as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From award-winning Financial Times journalist Gillian Tett, who enraged Wall Street leaders with her news-breaking warnings of a crisis more than a year ahead of the curve, Fool’s Gold tells the astonishing unknown story at the heart of the 2008 meltdown.

Drawing on exclusive access to J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and a tightly bonded team of bankers known on Wall Street as the “Morgan Mafia,” as well as in-depth interviews with dozens of other key players, including Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Tett brings to life in gripping detail how the Morgan team’s bold ideas for a whole new kind…


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

Philip Augar Author Of The Bank That Lived a Little: Barclays in the Age of the Very Free Market

From my list on financial history.

Why am I passionate about this?

By the late nineties, I had lost faith in the industry where I had made a living for twenty years. Deregulation on Wall St and in the City had left investment banking with a business model riddled with conflict of interest. The rewards spiralled out of control and the businesses became too complicated for the regulators to supervise. I have a doctorate in history and had been a top-ranked investment analyst in several sectors. I took an idea to Penguin and my first book, The Death of Gentlemanly Capitalism, was published in 2001. I've since written six more, and contributed regularly to the Financial Times and BBC.      

Philip's book list on financial history

Philip Augar Why did Philip love this book?

Discrete, mysterious, and powerful, Wall St’s great financial institutions shaped corporate America in the 20th century and none more so than Lazard Freres. But towards the end of the century, as competitors scaled up, Lazard was distracted by a power struggle involving hard-charging Wall St bankers and an inscrutable French billionaire. Who really played the winning hand? This book reveals all!

By William D. Cohan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Last Tycoons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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…


Book cover of Capital Ideas: The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street

Stephen R. Foerster Author Of In Pursuit of the Perfect Portfolio: The Stories, Voices, and Key Insights of the Pioneers Who Shaped the Way We Invest

From my list on developing your investment philosophy.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been interested in investing for over four decades since I started as a finance PhD student at Wharton. Since then my research has focused on understanding the stock market. Early on, I tried applying my research to my investing. For example, I was convinced that a recently listed stock called Google was way overvalued—was I ever wrong! That got me to reflect on my investment philosophy—what did I truly believe about how markets really behaved? That brought me back to understanding and appreciating the contributors to Modern Portfolio Theory, which led to a fun decade-long book project. Currently I enjoy writing about investing through my blog.

Stephen's book list on developing your investment philosophy

Stephen R. Foerster Why did Stephen love this book?

Peter Bernstein was one of the great investment writers.

This book is where I got my first taste into the great theorists whose works revolutionized Wall Street such as Harry Markowitz, Bill Sharpe, Myron Scholes, and Bob Merton, all of whom I later had the pleasure of getting to know. I had read about their theories, but hadn’t appreciated the impact they had on the investment industry. Bernstein showed how these luminaries changed the way we think about investments.

By Peter L. Bernstein,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Capital Ideas as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Capital Ideas traces the origins of modern Wall Street, from the pioneering work of early scholars and the development of new theories in risk, valuation, and investment returns, to the actual implementation of these theories in the real world of investment management. Bernstein brings to life a variety of brilliant academics who have contributed to modern investment theory over the years: Louis Bachelier, Harry Markowitz, William Sharpe, Fischer Black, Myron Scholes, Robert Merton, Franco Modigliani, and Merton Miller. Filled with in-depth insights and timeless advice, Capital Ideas reveals how the unique contributions of these talented individuals profoundly changed the practice…


Book cover of Manias, Panics, and Crashes: A History of Financial Crises

Robin Wigglesworth Author Of Trillions: How a Band of Wall Street Renegades Invented the Index Fund and Changed Finance Forever

From my list on financial history that are genuinely gripping.

Why am I passionate about this?

I ended up in financial journalism by happenstance (it was pretty much the only corner of the media world that was still hiring when I graduated in the early 2000s). But I fell in love with it. To understand the world, you have to understand money. Whether you like it or not, it is the hidden wiring that binds us all together. I’ve found that reading history books on finance and economics has helped me better understand what is going on today, so I hope the books on this list will help you do the same. 

Robin's book list on financial history that are genuinely gripping

Robin Wigglesworth Why did Robin love this book?

Sometimes the obvious pick is still the right pick, and anyone interested in the history of financial shenanigans – outright frauds or merely weapons-grade idiocy – has to read Kindleberger.

There’s a reason why it remains a stone-cold classic that bears reading (and re-reading) almost half a century after it was first published. 

By Charles P. Kindleberger, Robert Z. Aliber, Robert N. McCauley

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Manias, Panics, and Crashes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Eighth Edition of this classic text on the financial history of bubbles and crashes, Robert McCauley joins with Robert Aliber in building on Charles Kindleberger's renowned work. McCauley draws on his central banking experience to introduce new chapters on cryptocurrency and the United States as the 21st Century global lender of last resort. He also updates the book's coverage of the recent property bubble in China, as well as providing new perspectives on the US housing bubble of 2003-2006, and the Japanese bubble of the late 1980s. And he gives new attention to the social psychology that leads…


Book cover of Barbarians at the Gate: The Fall of RJR Nabisco

Brad Schaeffer Author Of Life in the Pits: My Time as a Trader on the Rough-and-Tumble Exchange Floors

From my list on what makes commodities traders tick.

Why am I passionate about this?

After graduating from the University of Illinois in 1989 with an LAS degree in communications and a knack for artwork, I had no idea what I wanted to do. That was until my brother pulled me from my low-paid art job in Chicago to work as a clerk on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. I eventually became a trader on that same floor, as well as an oil and gas dealer in New York. Screaming and yelling in the trading pits while money moved back and forth with a shout and a hand signal I learned more about investing, trading, and human nature through osmosis than I ever could in an MBA course.

Brad's book list on what makes commodities traders tick

Brad Schaeffer Why did Brad love this book?

Though not a book about trading per se, this chronicle of the craziness surrounding the 1986 leveraged buyout of RJR-Nabisco is certainly worth a read.

It centers around the machinations of RJR-Nabisco’s breezy CEO, F. Ross Johnson, and how, apparently, being the head of one of America’s great companies wasn’t enough. The book really is as much a study of greed and ego as it is about what was, at the time, the most expensive LBO in history.

One gets the feeling the company in play, and its employees wondering what would be the impact on their lives once the negotiations way up in the New York corporate high rises were completed, were ancillary concerns to the players involved—Ross Johnson, American Express CEO and power publicist Jim and Linda Robinson, Shearson-Lehman head Peter Cohen, buyout specialist and anti-junk bond crusader Ted Forstmann, and the coldly menacing Henry Kravis and…

By Bryan Burrough, John Helyar,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Barbarians at the Gate as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“One of the finest, most compelling accounts of what happened to corporate America and Wall Street in the 1980’s.”
—New York Times Book Review

A #1 New York Times bestseller and arguably the best business narrative ever written, Barbarians at the Gate is the classic account of the fall of RJR Nabisco. An enduring masterpiece of investigative journalism by Bryan Burrough and John Helyar, it includes a new afterword by the authors that brings this remarkable story of greed and double-dealings up to date twenty years after the famed deal. The Los Angeles Times calls Barbarians at the Gate, “Superlative.”…


Book cover of Crashed: How a Decade of Financial Crises Changed the World

Joseph Vogl Author Of The Ascendancy of Finance

From my list on the political power of contemporary finance.

Why am I passionate about this?

How did I – as a scholar of German literature – turn to economic topics? That had a certain inevitability. When I left for Paris in the early nineties, reading traces of anthropological knowledge in literature and aesthetics of the 18th century, I came across economic ideas on almost every page, in natural history, in medicine, in philosophy, in encyclopedias, in the theories of signs and in the teachings of beauty. There was circulation, communication, flows of exchange all over the place, and the Robinsons were the model. This reinforced the impression that the human being was engaged in aligning himself with homo oeconomicus. The question of  modern economics has therefore become unavoidable for me.

Joseph's book list on the political power of contemporary finance

Joseph Vogl Why did Joseph love this book?

Focusing on the financial crisis of 2008 Adam Tooze’s book shows the transition from a geopolitical to a geo-economic world order in which the political destiny of old nation states is determined by the needs of international financial industry – including the rearrangement of global governance and the erosion of democracies.

I admire the way in which Adam Tooze demonstrates the entanglement between financial capitalism, crises, and the rise of populist and right-wing movements in Europe and the US.

By Adam Tooze,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Crashed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

WINNER OF THE LIONEL GELBER PRIZE
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF 2018
ONE OF THE ECONOMIST'S BOOKS OF THE YEAR
A NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS' TOP BOOK

"An intelligent explanation of the mechanisms that produced the crisis and the response to it...One of the great strengths of Tooze's book is to demonstrate the deeply intertwined nature of the European and American financial systems."--The New York Times Book Review

From the prizewinning economic historian and author of Shutdown and The Deluge, an eye-opening reinterpretation of the 2008 economic crisis (and its ten-year aftermath) as a global event that directly…


Book cover of The Big Short

Claire A. Hill Author Of Better Bankers, Better Banks: Promoting Good Business through Contractual Commitment

From my list on bankers, especially bankers behaving badly.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve always been interested—a vast understatement to anyone who knows me—in what makes people tick. I’ve focused on analyzing business actors – bankers, lawyers, investors, executives, shareholders, and others. What do they want? Some combination of money, power, or prestige? How does loving to win fit in? How about hating to lose? When is enough (money/power/prestige) enough? What do they think is ok to do to get what they want? What do they think is not ok? Amazingly, as a law professor, I can pursue that interest as part of my job, and – I think and hope – do so in a way that might help lawmakers, regulators, and policymakers do better.

Claire's book list on bankers, especially bankers behaving badly

Claire A. Hill Why did Claire love this book?

As everyone knows at this point, anything Michael Lewis writes will be enormous fun to read, while being about something really important—something he’ll make you care about even if you didn’t when you started the book.

In this case, the subject is people who bet on the direction of mortgages (and thus, house prices), and how those who bet on a huge plunge were right. This book has an amazing cast of characters, all richly drawn: some are smart, some are not so smart; some are excellent schmoozers, some can barely tolerate human interaction; some care a lot about money, some care more about being right, especially if everyone else is wrong.

Each book I've recommended cries out to be made into a movie. This one actually was.

By Michael Lewis,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked The Big Short as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The real story of the crash began in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn't shine and the SEC doesn't dare, or bother, to tread: the bond and real estate derivative markets where geeks invent impenetrable securities to profit from the misery of lower- and middle-class Americans who can't pay their debts. The smart people who understood what was or might be happening were paralyzed by hope and fear; in any case, they weren't talking.

Michael Lewis creates a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his #1 bestseller Liar's Poker. Out of a…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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