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Author Traces Demise of Bear Stearns in ‘House of Cards’

Author William Cohen discusses his book "House of Cards," which tells the story of how investment banking giant Bear Stearns collapsed in 2008.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next, the house of cards that helped bring down Wall Street. This was a week dominated by the AIG story and the executives who took huge risks with tens of billions of dollars.

    Long before the AIG story began to play itself out, there were foreshadowings on Wall Street. Ray Suarez has our conversation.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    It was just over a year ago that the revered Wall Street and global investment bank and brokerage firm Bear Stearns collapsed. That meltdown proved to be the first of a flood of bank failures and a precursor to the worst global financial crisis since the Great Depression.

    William Cohan is a former Wall Street investment banker-turned-writer and author of "House of Cards: A Tale of Hubris and Wretched Excess on Wall Street," in which he follows the history and decline of Bear Stearns.

    And you begin the story sort of at the end of the story, with how this all happened, a very thorough tick-tock of how men — mostly men…

    WILLIAM COHAN, author, "House of Cards": Mostly men.

  • RAY SUAREZ:

    … raced to stop this collapse from happening, and then at some point had to let it happen.

  • WILLIAM COHAN:

    Well, you know, one of the challenges of writing a book where people think they know the ending — and everybody, of course, does, I mean, the ending doesn't change — but, you know, my goal was to try to explain to people how and why this happened, not only what happened those last 10 days, but take the readers back so they could understand how Bear Stearns found itself in the position where something like this could happen, which…

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