Bringing deep historical perspective and sharp economic analysis to bear on the LBO phenomenon, George P. Baker and George David Smith shed new light on this important chapter in modern economic history. In their focus on KKR as both financial innovator and as a creator of a new form of enterprise, they bridge what has been a wide gap between public perception and academic knowledge of how financial engineering has helped to restore the nation's economic vitality. KKR's founders had little inkling of what they would accomplish when they set up shop in 1976 to practice their unusual method of acquiring small companies. Throughout the 1980s, KKR drove the scale and scope of the leveraged buyout (LBO) to unprecedented heights by acquiring companies largely with debt, making managers owners, and monitoring performance closely. Their goal was to improve the long-term value of the assets in order to earn extraordinary returns.