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The AIG Story, + Website

Maurice R. Greenberg, Lawrence A. Cunningham

ISBN: 978-1-118-34587-0 January 2013 352 Pages


Selected as one of Motley Fool’s  "5 Great Books You Should Read"

In The AIG Story, the company's long-term CEO Hank Greenberg (1967 to 2005) and GW professor and corporate governance expert Lawrence Cunningham chronicle the origins of the company and its relentless pioneering of open markets everywhere in the world. They regale readers with riveting vignettes of how AIG grew from a modest group of insurance enterprises in 1970 to the largest insurance company in world history. They help us understand AIG's distinctive entrepreneurial culture and how its outstanding employees worldwide helped pave the road to globalization. 

  • Corrects numerous common misconceptions about AIG that arose due to its role at the center of the financial crisis of 2008.
  • A unique account of AIG by one of the iconic business leaders of the twentieth century who developed close relationships with many of the most important world leaders of the period and helped to open markets everywhere
  • Offers new critical perspective on battles with N. Y. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and the 2008 U.S. government seizure of AIG amid the financial crisis
  •  Shares considerable information not previously made public 

The AIG Story captures an impressive saga in business history--one of innovation, vision and leadership at a company that was nearly--destroyed with a few strokes of governmental pens. The AIG Story carries important lessons and implications for the U.S., especially its role in international affairs, its approach to business, its legal system and its handling of financial crises.

Chairman’s Note xi

Preface xiii

Acknowledgments xxi

Part One

Chapter 1 Independence 3

Chapter 2 Innovation 19

Chapter 3 Succession 31

Chapter 4 Vision and Culture 43

Chapter 5 The Internationalist 53

Chapter 6 Raising the Iron Curtain 63

Chapter 7 Opening Trade in Services 79

Chapter 8 Reopening China 95

Chapter 9 The Life Business 111

Chapter 10 The Domestic Front 125

Chapter 11 Investments 139

Chapter 12 Governance 149

Part Two

Interlude 167

Chapter 13 Hostile Change 171

Chapter 14 Restating History 189

Chapter 15 Civil War 203

Chapter 16 Saving the Starr Foundation 213

Chapter 17 Chaos 223

Chapter 18 Nationalization 243

Epilogue 261

Notes 265

About the Companion Web Site 309

About the Authors 311

Index 313

“Summing Up: Recommended.  General readers; all levels of undergraduate students; professionals.”  (Choice, 1 August 2013)

"Did the U.S. government break the law when it seized control of American International Group during the financial crisis of 2008? In 'The AIG Story,' the man who built the giant insurer says that the answer is yes and explains his reasoning. Former AIG chief executive Maurice R. 'Hank' Greenberg—along with his co-author, Lawrence A. Cunningham—also offers a fascinating company history and an account of how, after Mr. Greenberg's ouster in 2005, AIG made the disastrous mortgage bets that drove it into the arms of the feds." (The Wall Street Journal)

"[A] strong, fast-moving and well-crafted book...In effect, there are two stories here, both well told: the first, the story of a man who dreamed the American dream and realized it through drive, determination, and adherence to principle; and the second, the story of what seems to be an evolving model, with government officials, always for political reasons, exercising what increasingly approaches operational control over American business. It’s to the great credit of Greenberg that he's never accepted the validity of the second and has devoted his life and great energies to keeping the first alive and well." (The National Interest)

"The early chapters of 'The AIG Story' trace the acquisition of its U.S. units and international expansion, and offer interesting anecdotes. The book also paints a clear picture of the hard-driving, profit-centered corporate culture Mr. Greenberg famously fostered at AIG." (Business Insurance)

"The AIG Story is well documented, telling of how the company virtually collapsed and Greenberg was pushed out of leadership. The book has much information to share with financial leaders to help grow a business and to protect the identity of a company during periods of economic downturns."—ABA Banking Journal

"The only first-hand account of AIG's rise and near destruction, this book is a compelling chronicle of one of the great business success stories of the twentieth century as well as a history of the evolution of global capitalism over the past six decades."—Continuity Risk & Insurance