This is William D Cohan’s third weighty volume of Wall Street history and I fell upon it eagerly, having very much enjoyed its predecessors. The Last Tycoons (2007) was his award-winning ‘secret history’ of Lazard Frères, the very private investment banking firm where Cohan himself worked as a young corporate financier. It was followed by House of Cards (2009), which took the lid off another big but by then bankrupt name on the Street – Bear Stearns. Both were memorable especially for the portraits of the giant individual egos that gave these firms their corporate characters.
Now he has attempted the same exercise with the biggest and, to some, most sinister name of all – Goldman Sachs. The firm will be branded forever with a description concocted by Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi: ‘a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly