House of Cards: How Wall Street’s Gamblers Broke Capitalism Summary

The SQUEEZE: The collapse and subsequent sale of Bear Stearns ignited the financial meltdown of 2008. JP Morgan Chase purchased the eighty-five-year-old institution for the low price of $2 trillion. These events contributed to the unraveling of Wall Street, the end of the Second Gilded Age on Wall Street, and the calamitous financial problems that resulted in the bailouts of major institutions. It is within this context that William D. Cohan explores this topic of the 2008 financial collapse, using Bear Stearns as a guide. In “House of Cards: How Wall Street’s Gamblers Broke Capitalism,” Cohan reveals much about the problems leading up to the collapse, which include risky bets, political infighting, lax government regulations, and bad decision-making. Cohan offers a minute-by-minute account of ten days in March where the U.S. Government begins to realize the future consequences to the world economy should the company enter bankruptcy. William D. Cohan’s book is a must-read for the layman, business professional, and government official.


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Notable Endorsement: "Masterfully reported....[Cohan] has turned into one of our most able financial journalists....he deploys not only his hands-on experience of this exotic corner of the financial industry but also a remarkable gift for plain-spoken explanation...the other great strength of this important book is the breadth and skill of the author's interviews...Cohan does a brilliant job of sketching in the eccentric, vulgar, greedy, profane and coarse individuals who ignored all these warnings to their own profit and the ruin of so many others. It's impossible to do justice to his reportorial detail in a brief review..." -- Los Angeles Times

Common Q’s Answered by this Book:

  • What is Bear Stearns?
  • How much did JP Morgan Chase purchase for Bear Stearns?
  • What is the 2008 financial crisis?
  • What are some of the decisions that led up to the financial collapse of Wall Street?
  • What were some of the lax governmental regulations that led to the 2008 financial crisis?


About the Author: William D. Cohan is an award-winning investigative journalist. He spent seventeen years as an investment banker on Wall Street. He later spent an additional six years at Lazard Freres located in New York. Cohan became a Managing Director at JPMorgan Chase & Co. Cohan completed his bachelor’s degree at Duke University and received a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and an MBA from the Graduate School of Business. Cohan currently serves as a contributing editor at Fortune. For more information, visit:


Book Vitals:

Publisher: Penguin (May 2009)

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