Top 12 Wall Street Books For Those Looking To Join the Industry

Learn about the Wall Street industry and what it's like to work there
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By Mike Hinckley
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    For those who are just starting their professional career, the world of banking and investing can seem like a foreign universe.  

    Many have unanswered questions regarding Wall Street, including how it works and the way it impacts the global financial system.  Further, many want to learn more about the industry to understand how they might break into a coveted role on Wall Street.

    These 12 Wall Street books not only provide an explanation of how it all works, but also give inside accounts of what it’s been like to work on Wall Street during some of the most scandalous and perilous periods in financial history – from the GameStop short squeeze to the collapse of Lehman Brothers.

    Liar’s Poker

    Liar’s Poker has been the canonical book about Wall Street for decades now.

    Despite being published over 40 years ago, Liar’s Poker still holds up well; in fact, many readers may find it even more relevant now, given the increased awareness of the repercussions of high-stakes gambling in the financial world. The traders who made and lost billions every day come to life thanks to author Michael Lewis’s talent for character analysis.

    The book is also highly entertaining. It has depravity, backstabbing, foul-mouthed tirades, and colorful characters. So while you read and get an education about what Wall Street is really like, you’ll also be highly amused.

    I personally feel Michael Lewis is a little cynical about Wall Street, and paints it with too broad of a (negative) brush.  Still, anyone considering a career on Wall Street should read this book.

    Too Big to Fail: The Inside Story of How Wall Street and Washington Fought to Save the Financial System – and Themselves

    Author Andrew Ross Sorkin, one of the country’s most respected financial writers, provides the first authoritative account of the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. 

    Sorkin was able to gain access to previously undisclosed information and interviews with key players, so that he can recreate the high drama and uncertainty of the perilous days when the Wall Street world hung on the brink of collapse.

    If you’re curious to get the definitive, behind the scenes look at Wall Street during the Global Financial Crisis, this is where to start.

    Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America

    In Crash of the Titans, you’ll learn about the fall of a historic giant in the investment banking world Merill Lynch and its eventual merger with Bank of America during the Global Financial Crisis.

    This book focuses on two business giants and richness of previously unknown details, this book is the definitive source for understanding this part of the Wall Street crash.

    Up Close and All In: Life Lessons from a Wall Street Warrior

    This book is by John Mack, former CEO of Morgan Stanley during the Global Financial Crisis.

    Mack offers the wisdom he gained on his journey from a one-stoplight North Carolina mill town to a corner office on Wall Street’s forty-first floor in his book Up Close and All In.

    Mack offers sage advice on a wide range of topics, including how to build a team culture, how to maintain composure in the face of adversity, and how to make tough calls when the spotlight is on you. 

    If you’re curious to learn about Wall Street and life, this is an essential guide to living and leading well from a guy who was a leader at the highest levels of Wall Street.

    How to Invest: Masters on the Craft

    David M. Rubenstein is the founder of Carlyle, a top mega fund in the private equity world.

    A top investor in his own right, in this book, Rubenstein gets access to many of the world’s top investors and asks them to share insights into investing. 

    This book will give you a solid foundation on how to invest, whether you’re a complete novice or a seasoned veteran.

    This is an authoritative book, and Rubenstein was able to put it together thanks to his exceptional access to world leaders in the financial sector.  

    The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance

    This book, The House of Morgan, is a daring attempt at chronicling the development of the American financial sector through JP Morgan’s financial empire. 

    This book provides a panoramic view of the Morgan family and the illustrious, clandestine businesses that four generations of Morgans built, businesses that would go on to revolutionize the global financial system. 

    Acclaimed historian Ron Chernow provides a compelling portrayal of the family’s private tale and the privileged environment in which they lived. 

    The House of Morgan is a riveting narrative of a unique institution and the men who managed it and an essential book for comprehending the money and power behind the key historical events of the last 150 years.

    Inside Money: Brown Brothers Harriman and the American Way of Power

    Author and former financial executive Zachary Karabell provides the first comprehensive and candid look at the financial institution Brown Brothers Harriman against the backdrop of American history. 

    Karabell gives an X-ray of the financial firm Brown Brothers Harriman (financial, political, cultural) from its inception in the early 1800s to the present day, thanks to his unfettered access to the company’s records and his exciting insight into the wider forces at play. 

    This will give you insight into one of Wall Street’s storied franchises, how it’s evolved over the years, and where it stands today.

    A Random Walk Down Wall Street: The Time-Tested Strategy for Successful Investing

    Author Burton G. Malkiel’s A Random Walk Down Wall Street is an absolute classic on Wall Street.

    It’s core thesis – that consumers should not try to beat the market – is basically now accepted as gospel. For a long time now, A Random Walk Down Wall Street has been recognized as the go-to investment guide. 

    At a minimum, anyone starting on Wall Street should be aware of Malkiel’s lessons and his core findings.

    A History of the United States in Five Crashes: Stock Market Meltdowns That Defined a Nation

    This fascinating, insightful, and easily accessible blend of economic and cultural history is brought to us by CNBC contributor and veteran trader, financial engineer, and market observer Scott Nations.

    Nations takes the reader on a tour of the five most significant stock market crashes of the last century and shows how they shaped the United States as we know it today.  He provides a clear analysis and lessons learned from each.

    This book will help you learn the connections between financial markets and the real economy, which is essential to understanding Wall Street’s role.

    Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World

    Goldman Sachs is perhaps the world’s most prestigious investment bank.  From its inception to its astounding success throughout the 2008 financial crisis, Goldman has been a storied firm on Wall Street.  

    And yet, little has been known to the outside world about what its like to work and operate inside its culture … until now.

    Money and Power reveals the bank’s inner workings. William Cohan is an expert writer (having been a banker himself previously), and he builds a nuanced and relevant portrayal of Goldman Sachs via exhaustive research and interviews with key insiders.

    The Last Tycoons: The Secret History of Lazard Freres & Co.

    This is another title from former investment banker turned author William D. Cohan.

    In this book, Cohan provides a gripping portrayal of Wall Street, this time by honing in on Lazard Freres, an elite boutique investment bank. 

    Cohan analyzes the volatile rivalry between superstar investment bankers Felix Rohatyn and Steve Rattner, as well as the power struggle between Lazard’s former boss, the mysterious French billionaire Michel David-Weill. 

    The Last Tycoon is a narrative of great drama in the world of high finance, full of soaring aspirations and unimaginable fortune.

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    Mike Hinckley

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