“Four Friends” – new release by Kenan Board Member William Cohan

New York Times bestselling author and Kenan Institute for Ethics Board Member William Cohan has just delivered his latest book, Four Friends: Promising Lives Cut Short.  Cohan delves into the lives of his four boarding school friends who died young under varying circumstances, yet all exemplifying unfulfilled potential.  Four Friends expertly examines the individual paths of these men since parting ways, and in doing so, delivers an inspiring and insightful story about the meaning of life.


Four Friends Cover

In his masterful pieces for Vanity Fair and in his bestselling books, William D. Cohan has proven to be one of the most meticulous and intrepid journalists covering the world of Wall Street and high finance. In his utterly original new book, Four Friends, he brings all of his brilliant reportorial skills to a subject much closer to home: four friends of his who died young. Like Cohan, all four attended Andover, the most elite boarding school in America, before spinning out into very different orbits. Indelibly, using copious interviews from wives, girlfriends, colleagues, and friends, Cohan brings these men to life on the page.

Jack Berman, the child of impoverished Holocaust survivors, uses his unlikely Andover pedigree to achieve the American dream, only to be cut down in an unimaginable act of violence. Will Daniel, Harry Truman’s grandson and the son of the managing editor of The New York Times, does everything possible to escape the burdens of a family legacy he’s ultimately trapped by. Harry Bull builds the life of a careful, successful Chicago lawyer and heir to his family’s fortune…before taking an inexplicable and devastating risk on a beautiful summer day. And the life and death of John F. Kennedy Jr.—a story we think we know—is told here with surprising new details that cast it in an entirely different light.

Four Friends is an immersive, wide-ranging, tragic, and ultimately inspiring account of promising lives cut short, written with compassion, honesty, and insight. It not only captures the fragility of life but also its poignant, magisterial, and pivotal moments.

— excerpt from williamcohan.com

Four Friends is obviously a very different kind of book for me. It’s a meditation on the fragility of life and how despite living lives of privilege and seemingly infinite opportunities, things don’t always work out like you think they will or hope they will. And then in an instant of bad luck, or bad judgment, or both, your life can be over before you know it and all the hopes, dreams and promise goes out with it. I wanted a way both to remember my four friends and to figure out what happened to them in their lives after we all went our separate ways. So it was once an extraordinary reporting challenge — my friends were long gone — and also a chance to think about the meaning of life and how one should live during the short time it turns out we actually have. 

– William Cohan


William Cohan T’81, is New York Times bestselling author of “Money and Power,” “House of Cards” and “The Last Tycoon,” former Managing Director of JP Morgan Chase, and former Director at Merrill Lynch. He worked as a Senior Wall Street M&A Investment Banker for 17 years at Lazard Frères & Co., Merrill Lynch and JPMorganChase. He has written for The Financial Times, The New York Times, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, The Atlantic, The Nation, Fortune, and Politico.