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Great Books About Wall Street Scandals

For better or for worse, we all love a good story of corruption, especially in the finance industry. Scratch that itch with books about Wall Street scandals.

By Nicola P. YoungPublished 5 years ago 5 min read

Wall Street is notoriously corrupt. Entire libraries and bookstores could be filled with the exposés and investigations of Wall Street and Washington corruption, ranging from single individuals stealing billions from their investors to the largest corporations running nationwide or global scams. Sometimes it's a matter of opportunity, as seen in The Big Short, but other times it's a matter of long-term, pre-meditated malice and greed. To bone up on your understanding of some of these shocking people and events, there are countless books about Wall Street scandals that offer new insights, deep investigations, and important discussions of the ways that some aspects of the economy do and, more importantly, don't work.

Even if you know nothing about Wall Street or its history of scandals, you've probably heard the name Bernie Madoff. He was the man behind perhaps the biggest Ponzi scheme of all time, and one of the biggest Wall Street scandals to ever be uncovered. With this focus, Diana B. Henriques wrote one of the biggest books about Wall Street scandals of all time, covering the rise and fall of Bernie Madoff, his financial actions, and his life. This piece is rigorously investigated, retelling one of the most dramatic events ever to happen in the industry. The Wizard of Lies is the Bernie Madoff scandal explained, investigating the complicated features that enabled his schemes and the disastrous outcomes that shattered lives across the nation.

Wall Street Journal writer Connie Bruck offers a definitive account of the rise of the Junk Bond traders. The Predators' Ball takes a close look at another one of the biggest investment scandals in history: The Drexel Burnham Lambert scandal that shook Wall Street back in 1990. This book focuses on the central figure in the scandal, who subsequently earned the name the "Billionaire Junk Bond King" for his role at Drexel Burnham Lambert in the 1980s, when the actions of Milken and various others at the company led to a huge leveraged buyout boom. This book looks at how Milken rose through ranks of the company, the practices that enabled unethical actions, and it has been updated to include information about the subsequent fall and conviction of Milken.

Not all Wall Street scandals are about individual crooks. The Scandal of Money offers an account of the ways in which Wall Street itself is scandalous, putting their own interests first at the expense of investors and citizens who are always the ones who suffer most. Gilder investigates the deep-seated corruption pervading Wall Street and Washington, and how that corruption is overlooked—and even encouraged—by various policies and practices that perpetuate the system and benefit the rich. Exposing the corruption of our highest economic institutions, Gilder offers an account of the ways in which our economy is broken, only benefiting the "one percent" at the expense of the country. Now that's a scandal.

Wall Street Scandals by Winston Overton is one of the most comprehensive books about Wall Street scandals out there. It offers a look at corruption, big and small, individual and corporation-wide, that takes a deep look at the practices and questionable ethics of major banks, mega-corporations, and financial companies of all kinds that participate in a structure of corruption—from massive Ponzi schemes to insider trading, hedge fund managers, and investment bankers. It's an account of greed and its shocking effects on America, as well as the ways in which American institutions, both implicitly and explicitly, support and allow these practices to further their own ends at the expense of the country.

In many books about Wall Street scandals, the financial victims are used just as a point of sympathy and reference to emphasize the bad deeds of the individual(s) at the center of the scandal. Ruthless, however,offers a unique account of these scandals that focuses on those victims and their role in taking down some of the biggest criminal moguls on Wall Street. Though the harm caused may be irreparable, this account offers a more hopeful look at the ways that the victims of financial corruption can take back their power and work to rebuild their lives and the lives of others in the aftermath of financial ruin.

Liar's Poker by Michael Lewis is one of the top-selling books about Wall Street scandals in recent history. Lewis proves himself a master writer, covering the facts about Wall Street corruption with a humorous and engaging voice. After working with traders at Salomon Brothers, Lewis offers insight into trading scandals, large and small, and the ethics present within these massive financial companies that have led to economic crises, stock market crashes, and damaging our nation with little harm in return to the men in power who allowed, supported, and engaged in the scandals of Wall Street.

Disconnected covers the shocking fall of WorldCom in 2002, a financial disaster that shook the world of economics as we know it. Lynn Jeter was involved with reporting on WorldCom for decades before the company's huge fall, and therefore, found herself in a unique position to investigate and report the complex actions and individuals that led up to the disaster. She not only covers their unethical behaviors that came to light, but also the simple mistakes and missteps that can lead to financial crises as well. This nuanced account is detailed and well-reported, offering an incredibly comprehensive look at the world of Wall Street and one of its most historic scandals.

Too Big to Fail by journalist and author Andrew Ross Sorkin is one of the most famous books about Wall Street scandals, and has since been made into an HBO special. This book investigates the unethical actions of Wall Street and Washington that led to one of the worst stock market crashes in US history: The 2008 financial crisis. Sorkin offers a dramatic and detailed account of the individuals involved, demonstrating the ways in which single actions, companies, and individuals can bring an entire country to near economic ruin. With close detail, interviews, and access to major players in the crisis, Sorkin creates a compelling and dramatic true story of the biggest financial players and the real power they have.

Truly understanding Wall Street scandals also requires an understanding of the world of finance—in all its complexity—and realizing the ways that the system can be influenced and used to disastrous effect. The Fix investigates some of those complexities, looking at the ways some of the world's top financial minds collaborated and colluded to fix the system, protecting and benefiting themselves in one of the world's most shocking economic scandals. Written after years of research and hundreds of interviews, this book offers one of the most insightful accounts of the inner workings of Wall Street, and all of its dark past and potential.

Not all great books about Wall Street scandals have happened recently. Financial corruption has been around long before Wall Street ever existed, and many of the same tactics and unethical practices have persisted for over a century. The Match King looks at one of the earliest individuals to build a financial empire in America based on the same Ponzi-scheme-esque tactics adopted by Bernie Madoff and others today. In the 1920s, Ivar Kreuger became one of the world's richest men, by lying, cheating, and swindling in one of the earliest Wall Street scandals on record.


About the Creator

Nicola P. Young

Lover of Books, Saxophone, Blogs, and Dogs. Not necessarily in that order. Book blogger at

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