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Bruce Wasserstein, Chairman and CEO of Wasserstein Perella

When investment bankers turn to writing, few professional scribes lose sleep over the competition. A banker's motivation for putting pen to paper is often either ego or epitaph. Neither makes for a gripping read. A book by Bruce Wasserstein, co-founder of New York M&A boutique Wasserstein Perella, might therefore be expected to be met with scepticism.

But despite a publicity photograph that makes the author look as if he's auditioning for a part in a mafia movie, Big Deal: the battle for control of America's leading corporations is far from an exercise in self-promotion. And even though Wasserstein is now in the elder-statesman bracket among Wall Street's finest, the book doesn't imply his retirement or retreat from the M&A business. "In fact the reverse," he says. "Last year was our [Wasserstein Perella's] best ever, and this year looks like it's going to be even better than last."

When I refer to the book as a weighty tome (it's over 800 pages), Wasserstein requests: "I'd rather you called it a page turner." And the gospel according to Wasserstein is about as readable as investment banking manuals come, which, he says, was part of the intention: "I thought that there wasn't really a book that tried to explain how deals are done that isn't incomprehensible."

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