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Monday, October 19, 1987, was by far the worst day in Wall Street history. The market fell 22.6 percent - almost twice as bad as the worst day of 1929 - equal to a loss of more than 4,000 points today. But Black Monday was more than just a one-day market crash; it was seven years in the making and threatened the entire U.S. financial system. Drawing on superlative archival research and dozens of original interviews, Diana B. Henriques weaves a tale of ignored warnings, market delusions, and destructive decisions, a drama that stretches from New York and Washington to Chicago and California. As the story hurtles toward a terrible reckoning, the players struggle to avoid a national panic, and unexpected heroes step in to avert total disaster. For thirty years, investors, regulators, and bankers have failed to heed the lessons of 1987, even as the dangers of that era have erupted repeatedly, most devastatingly in the financial crisis of 2008. A First-Class Catastrophe offers a new way of looking not only at the past, but at our financial future as well.
Diana B. Henriques is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Wizard of Lies: Bernie Madoff and the Death of Trust, which has been made into an HBO film starring Robert De Niro. A writer for The New York Times since 1989, she is a George Polk Award winner and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Her work has also received Harvard's Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and the Worth Bingham Prize, among other honors. She lives in Hoboken, New Jersey.