About the Book
“Fallen Giant: The Amazing Story of Hank Greenberg and the History of AIG” tells the story of global insurance giant AIG, from its first business transaction in China in 1919 to the exit of its longtime chairman and CEO, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg in 2005. Greenberg, once one of the most powerful businessmen in the world, had become a target of then New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. After a high profile battle of wills that largely took place in the media, Greenberg was forced to resign by the board he personally had hand picked.
Ron Shelp, the book’s author, draws from his years as an executive at AIG working directly for Hank Greenberg as well as interviews with current and former AIG employees and business and government leaders to paint remarkable portraits of founder C.V. Starr and his successor Greenberg. The result is a mesmerizing behind-the-scenes account of the world’s largest insurance company.
Early in the 21st century, issues of governance and corporate malfeasance began to dominate the world business stage, exacerbated by the collapse of Enron and problems in other major firms. This ushered in a new era of regulation, government oversight, and prosecutorial action.
“Fallen Giant” was published in 2006, little more than a year after Greenberg was forced out of AIG. Since then much has happened, most notably the near-collapse of the US financial system and the global economy. In September 2008 the US government seized control of AIG by lending the company $85 billion in exchange for a 79.9% equity stake. The American taxpayer was now AIG’s largest shareholder. AIG needed several other infusions of cash, with the total rescue package amounting to more than $150 billion.
AIG’s fortunes and misfortunes through the summer of 2009 have been captured in a new paperback edition of the book, which was published in August 2009. Three new chapters capture Greenberg’s efforts to manage AIG from afar, his ongoing legal battles with the company, and his determined efforts to rebuild his reputation. The book also has been translated into Simplified Chinese in China, Traditional Chinese in Taiwan, and Korean.
“Fallen Giant” provides a rare glimpse into the inner sanctum of this once-opaque global powerhouse. As one reviewer states: “A must-read for any business person or aspiring business person who wants to know how giants like AIG and Greenberg work and how Starr built the initial company, chose and held his executives and built the excellent Starr Foundation.”