Blue Blood and Mutiny:
The Fight for the Soul of Morgan Stanley

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Blue Blood & Mutiny, book jacketBlood Blood & Mutiny is the first and only book written about the venerable Wall Street firm established in 1935. Morgan Stanley valued its privacy so strictly that even when the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Ron Chernow wrote The House of Morgan, the chairman of the firm refused to be interviewed, and instructed every employee to follow his lead.

In 2005, the same man, now the former chairman, along with the former president, and six other retired senior executives—known as “The Group of Eight,” and sometimes “The Grumpy Old Men”—secretly convened. Their mission was to force the board of Morgan Stanley to fire Philip Purcell, the firm’s chairman and CEO, whom they believed was undermining a distinctive culture, and negatively affecting its share price.

This time, they were willing to allow a journalist to tell their story.

When the fight began, the Irish betting site InTrade gave the Group of Eight a single digit chance of winning. In June, 2005, the odds had changed: Philip Purcell agreed to leave the firm (with a $24 million “golden parachute”.) He was replaced by John J. Mack, a former president of Morgan Stanley, who was known as “the soul of the firm.” During the 2008 Wall Street crisis, John Mack led the desperate battle to save Morgan Stanley from extinction. In 2016, Morgan Stanley is one of only two major investment banking firms still in business.

Patricia Beard, who is not a Wall Street insider, was skeptical about the premise that the “money business” had what the group thought of as a “soul”. When word got out that she was writing the book, she began to get calls from Morgan Stanley loyalists, some of whom had quit in protest against the current leadership. They wanted to be sure she understood what Morgan Stanley stood for, and many offered information and assistance. By the time she completed Blue Blood & Mutiny, she believed that the firm’s culture was guided by excellence, collaboration, honor, and putting the client’s interests first. For her, the business was secondary; the people, their world, and their passion brought the story to life. The revolt of the Group of Eight signals a clash of cultures, and a battle for character in American business.

Review

I really enjoyed reading Blue Blood & Mutiny and found it hard to put down! It is an excellent chronicle of an important event in the contemporary evolution of Wall Street. Patricia Beard writes as though she has spent her whole life on Wall Street. Congratulations to her!” —Samuel L. Hayes III, Jacob Schiff Professor of Investment Banking Emeritus, Harvard Business School