The White Sharks of Wall Street: Thomas Mellon Evans and the Original Corporate Raiders


From Scribner:

Mention the phrase ‘corporate raider,’ and most people are likely to think of the colorful men of the eighties who are often credited with ushering in a new age in corporate America. Yet none can match the daring, cunning or fearlessness of Thomas Mellon Evans. Operating in the late forties and early fifties, before junk bonds, leverages buyouts and corporate takeovers, Evans carved a wide-reaching path through corporate America that Wall Street powerbrokers still follow. As widely recognized in his day as Donald Trump, Warren Buffett and George Soros are now, Evans became legendary for his revolutionary business accomplishments:

  • The control of more than eighty American companies, using a clever combination of debt, cash and the tax code.
  • The push for public companies to operate only for their shareholders — long before the institutional lobbying for ‘shareholder rights’ began.
  • Distinction as one of the earliest promoters of the ‘lean and mean’ business model that favored squeezing the ‘fat’ out of corporate organizations to realize greater profits….

In the first full-length biography of this pivotal business figure, [Henriques] presents a compelling portrait of the trail-blazing ‘boardroom pirate’ whose brash pursuit of wealth and power forever changed the face of American business. Reaching beyond the business arena, [the book] also tallies the tragic professional and personal cost of Evans’s single-minded pursuit of business success, from his two broken marriages to the stubbornness and pride that drove his sons to become his enemies instead of his allies. The result is a fascinating portrait of an extraordinary man whose career blazed across the sky, then sank into obscurity — but not before he had provided the template of how business would operate for the next four decades in America — and the world.

Woven through The White Sharks of Wall Street are masterful profiles of the other players in the first generation of corporate raiders…

Charles Green: His protracted proxy fights to gain control…represented the best — and worst — of this new group of “proxyteers.”

Art Landa: A lawyer and former Washington mover and shaker…[and] one of the nation’s most controversial defenders of corporate management.

Leopold D. Silberstein: A native of Germany…[who engineered] one of the first ‘surprise raids’ in America’s postwar proxy skirmishes.

Louis D. Wolfson: …He made deals that would intensify political outrage over the tactics of this new group of boardroom pirates…

Robert R. Young: As Thomas Evans prepared to wage his first proxy battle in the late thirties, he was inspired by newspaper accounts of a young Texan struggling to gain control of the coveted Chesapeake & Ohio railroad…


Praise for The White Sharks of Wall Street:

From Ron Chernow, bestselling and prize-winning historian and the author of Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr. and The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance:

“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.”


From Ronald Steel, author of the Pulitzer-winning biography,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.”


From Donald Trump, real estate and casino industry entrepreneur:

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

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