Executive Times






2008 Book Reviews



Never Enough by Joe McGinniss








Click on title or picture to buy from amazon.com






If you’re looking to read something about families before your next reunion, or if you want to increase your appreciation of your own family, be sure to read Joe McGinness’ new book, Never Enough. Chances are no matter how dysfunctional your own family is, yours can’t measure up to the Kissels. If Never Enough were a novel, you’d put it down in disgust because there’s too much behavior that’s implausible. The joy of true stories is that people do implausible things. So, Never Enough is the book version of reality television. Without revealing too much, brothers Robert and Andrew Kissel are both murdered, one in Hong Kong and the other in Greenwich, Connecticut. A Hong Kong jury found Rob’s wife, Nancy, guilty of his murder. Andrew’s case remains unsolved, but when he was killed, he was having money, marriage and legal problems. Here’s an excerpt, from the beginning of Chapter 5, “Goldman Sachs,” pp. 34-6:


In the 1990s, the poaching of investment banking stars became the rule rather than the exception on Wall Street. Cadres of headhunters roamed the canyons like guerrilla bands. If you were an investment banker and you weren't regularly offered a higher-paying job at a more prestigious firm, there was something you weren't doing right.

Rob had been performing brilliantly at Lazard. And Lazard, though slowly sliding from the first tier of investment banks, remained a land of plenty for headhunters. In 1996, Rob's was among the heads hunted and delivered to Goldman Sachs. If boys of an earlier era had dreamed of one day wearing a New York Yankee uniform, rookie in­vestment bankers in the 199os yearned for the day when they could hold in their hand a business card that said Goldman Sachs. By almost any standard of measurement, Goldman Sachs was the leading invest­ment bank in the world.

"Money is always fashionable," Henry Goldman, son of the bank's founder, said late in the nineteenth century. For the next hundred years, Goldman set the standard for haute couture in the banking world. It achieved its preeminence by being, as senior partner Gus Levy said in 1969, "long-term greedy." As a private partnership, Goldman did not have to answer to shareholders who expected spectacular earnings growth every quarter. Instead, the bank could formulate strategies that would play out over years.

The corporate culture at Goldman stressed teamwork. The slogan "At Goldman Sachs we never say 'I'" was taken seriously. Nonetheless, the bank rewarded individual performance with salary and bonus pack­ages that were stupendous even by the lavish standards of the industry. Rob was at the point in his career when promising young bankers were given three- to four-year tours of duty overseas. The world of finance was global, and banks wanted their rising stars to gain experience in nerve centers other than Wall Street.

In 1997, the most dynamic, hypersensitive financial nerve center in the world was Hong Kong. The myth of the "Asian miracle" still car­ried the force of doctrinal truth. For more than a decade, led by Japan, Asian societies had been honing their economic systems to the finest of points. The region had it all: the strong work ethic, the focus on educa­tion, the thrifty populace, and the ability to manufacture cheaply and export products that other countries were hungry to buy. Asia would own the twenty-first century—all the magazines and TV news shows said so. Everyone in the financial realm rushed to stake his claim. Banks loaned money, mutual funds bought stocks and bonds, investors built factories and office buildings, currency traders sold deutsche marks and dollars to buy baht and won and rupiah. On the receiving end, men who'd been driving motorbikes all their lives were suddenly debating the merits of various models of Mercedes-Benzes.

This was the future, the experts agreed. Asia ruled. The good times were rolling and they were here to stay. The first ones now would always be first. If it was already too late to get in on the ground floor, there was plenty of space on the mezzanine. The world's leading finan­cial journals spoke with one voice: any dollar not invested in Asia might as well stay under the mattress.

Hong Kong seemed the perfect place for a rising star like Rob Kis­sel to perfect his skills. He rejoiced when he learned he'd be heading there. "They only send winners," he told friends. "This means I'm on the fast track to make partner. Hong Kong is the key to the mint."

If schadenfreude is up your alley, be sure to read Never Enough.


Steve Hopkins, May 15, 2008



Buy Never Enough

@ amazon.com

Go To Hopkins & Company Homepage



Go to 2008 Book Shelf

Go to Executive Times Archives


Go to The Big Book Shelf: All Reviews





*    2008 Hopkins and Company, LLC


The recommendation rating for this book appeared

 in the June 2008 issue of Executive Times


URL for this review: http://www.hopkinsandcompany.com/Books/Never Enough.htm


For Reprint Permission, Contact:

Hopkins & Company, LLC • 723 North Kenilworth AvenueOak Park, IL 60302
Phone: 708-466-4650 • Fax: 708-386-8687

E-mail: books@hopkinsandcompany.com