Summary of The Predators' Ball

The Inside Story of Drexel Burnham and the Rise of the Junk Bond Raiders

Penguin, more...

Buy the book

The Predators' Ball book summary
The rise and fall of Michael Milken’s junk bond empire.


7 Overall

6 Applicability

8 Innovation

8 Style


Today the phrase “securities fraud” evokes Enron, WorldCom and Tyco. Two decades ago, it evoked Drexel Burnham Lambert, the investment bank that ruled the junk-bond realm and helped fund some of the most audacious corporate takeovers of the 1980s. Enthroned at the center of Drexel Burnham was the king of junk, Michael Milken. Was he a financial genius who found ever more clever ways to make markets more efficient? Or was he a swindler running the world’s biggest Ponzi scheme? New Yorker writer Connie Bruck sets out to answer those questions in this cautionary tale of Drexel’s rise and fall. getAbstract recommends this fascinating, highly detailed financial history. However, the flaw in Bruck's narrative is the absence of a third act: She inexplicably ends the book before Milken's trial and sentencing. While its ending is weak, this provocative story makes one thing clear: Uneasy lies the head that wears a leveraged crown.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How brilliant Wall Street outsider Michael Milken started a revolution in the market for low-quality, high-yield bonds;
  • How he used junk bonds to finance famous hostile takeovers of marquee companies; and
  • How his junk-bond empire collapsed.


The Cheerleader
Michael Milken was always comfortable being a maverick. As a high school student in Van Nuys, California, he wasn’t an athlete. He was a cheerleader. While a student at the University of California at Berkeley during the politically heady 1960s, he “sold out,” majoring ...
Get the key points from this book in less than 10 minutes. Learn more about our products or log in

About the Author

Connie Bruck is a staff writer for The New Yorker.

Comment on this summary

More on this topic

Customers who read this summary also read

More by category