The White Sharks of Wall Street

Thomas Mellon Evans and the Original Corporate Raiders

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About The Book

It almost seems that Thomas Mellon Evans was a man so far ahead of his contemporaries that he had moved into the shadows before the full force of his business style had dawned on the rest of corporate America. At every step in his career, he was barging in where few would follow -- at first. But follow they did, at last."
-- from the Prologue


The first in-depth portrait of the life and times of the trailblazing financier Thomas Mellon Evans -- the man who pursued wealth and power in the 1950s with a brash ruthlessness that forever changed the face of corporate America.

Long before Michael Milken was using junk bonds to finance corporate takeovers, Thomas Mellon Evans used debt, cash, and the tax code to obtain control of more than eighty American companies. Long before investors began to lobby for "shareholder's rights," Evans was demanding that public companies be run only for their shareholders -- not for their employees, their executives, or their surrounding communities. To some, Evans's merciless style presaged much that is wrong with corporate life today. To others, he intuitively knew what was needed to keep America competitive in the wake of a global war.
In The White Sharks of Wall Street, New York Times investigative reporter Diana Henriques provides the first biography of this pivotal figure in American business history. She also portrays the other pioneering corporate raiders of the postwar period, such as Robert Young and Louis Wolfson, and shows how these men learned from one another and advanced one another's takeover tactics. She relates in dramatic detail a number of important early takeover fights -- Wolfson's challenge to Montgomery Ward, Young's move on the New York Central Railroad, the fight for Follansbee Steel -- and shows how they foreshadowed the desperate battle waged by Tom Evans's son, Ned Evans, to keep the British raider Robert Maxwell away from his Macmillan publishing empire during the 1980s. Henriques also reaches beyond the business arena to tally the tragic personal cost of Evans's pursuit of success and to show how the family dynasty shattered when his sons were driven by his own stubbornness and pride to become his rivals. In the end, the battling patriarch faced his youngest son in a poignant battle for control at the Crane Company, the once-famous Chicago plumbing and valve company that Tom Evans had himself seized in a brilliant takeover coup twenty-five years earlier.
The White Sharks of Wall Street is a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary man, whose career blazed across the sky and then sank into obscurity -- but not before he had provided the template for how American business would operate for the next four decades.

Product Details
  • Publisher: Scribner (April 2001)
  • Length: 368 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780743202671

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Raves and Reviews

Ron Chernow author of Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dyanasty and the Rise of Modern Finances For those who fancy that the financial world of the early postwar years was a rather bland and sleepy place, The White Sharks of Wall Street will arrive as a startling revelation. In her absorbing, deeply researched narrative, Diana Henriques shows how a forgotten group of corporate raiders in the 1950s and 1960s, led by Thomas Mellon Evans, patented the swashbuckling tactics that would revolutionize takeovers during the great bull market of the 1980s and 1990s. This fascinating, indispensable work not only unearths a lost world but radically reshapes our view of Wall Street history.

Ronald Steel author of In Love with Night: The American Romance with Robert Kennedy and Walter Lippmann and the American Century This compelling story of power, daring, and greed has all the drama of a novel and is told with a flair that makes it hard to set down.

Donald Trump A page-turner of the first magnitude! Diana Henriques has written a fascinating account of Wall Street's original coporate raider. Thomas Mellon Evans was a renegade and a trailblazer, and left a legacy that few men would match in the decades to follow.

Alan Abelson columnist, Barron's Diana Henriques has crafted a splendid portrait of the early postwar raiders who dashed onto the corporate landscape wreaking some wonderful havoc and spreading fear and loathing among the old boys of the business establishment. In clear and engaging prose and with a knowing and unblinking eye, she deftly chronicles the relentless pursuit of their prey and how they prepared the ground for today's takeover tsunamis that continue to transform the economy and change the face and soul of corporate America...instructive, authoritative, and fun to read.

Herb Greenberg senior columnist, TheStreet.com Leave it to Diana Henriques to breathe life into a Wall Street legend whom most of us never knew existed. A story rich in Wall Street history...a must read for any future corporate raiders!

Charles Geisst author of Monopolies in America and Wall Street: A History Diana Henriques has written a well-researched and entertaining account of a long-overlooked period of Wall Street history. Essential for an understanding of today's mergers and acquisitions trend.

More books from this author: Diana B. Henriques