Wall Street has plenty of worries heading into autumn: the stability of the euro zone, persistent United States unemployment and the historically volatile October stock market.
Goldman Sachs has an additional concern: Greg Smith's book.
Mr. Smith's memoir, "Why I Left Goldman Sachs," is set for publication on Oct. 22. The release date comes just seven months after Mr. Smith publicly resigned from the bank with an Op-Ed page article in The New York Times that detailed his disappointment with Goldman's business practices that reflected, more broadly, a corrosive culture at the nation's largest banks.
(Read more: A Civil War at Goldman?)
The article struck a nerve. Within 24 hours, it had more than three million views online. Publishers clamored for the rights to a book. Grand Central Publishing, a division of the Hachette Book Group, secured a deal, offering Mr. Smith an advance of close to $1.5 million, according to people with direct knowledge of the negotiations.
His book comes at an inopportune moment for Goldman, which has largely disappeared from the spotlight after a wave of negative publicity damaged the bank's reputation.
In addition, it paid $550 million to settle a civil case brought by the government over a subprime mortgage product that it sold to clients. An insider trading scandal ensnared the firm, with a member of its board facing prison time and at least two other executives under investigation.
And its depiction as a blood sucking "vampire squid" in a Rolling Stone article captured the public's imagination, helping to make Goldman a symbol of Wall Street's dark side.
But in recent months, Goldman has steered clear of the negative finance coverage dominating the headlines, most notably the huge trading losses at JPMorgan Chase and the growing scandal involving certain banks' manipulation of interest rates.
"Why I Left Goldman Sachs" promises to be a tell-all of Mr. Smith's 12-year career at the bank. His opinion article in The Times described Goldman as a once-vaunted institution that had lost its way. He wrote that when he first joined the bank as an intern in the summer of 2000, it obsessively put its clients' interests first.
But over time, Mr. Smith said, Goldman devolved into a "toxic and destructive" culture that put profit before principle. His former colleagues mocked their clients, he said, derisively referring to them as "muppets."
"I truly believe that this decline in the firm's moral fiber represents the single most serious threat to its long-run survival," Mr. Smith wrote. "It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off."
Not everyone embraced Mr. Smith's article. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York dismissed the piece as "ridiculous," calling it nothing more than a nasty letter from a disgruntled employee. It also spawned numerous parodies on the Internet, including "Why I Am Leaving the Empire," by Darth Vader.
David Wells, a Goldman Sachs spokesman, minimized the significance of the book. "Every day, some young professional, after a decade in a postcollegiate job, reassesses his or her career and decides to move on and do something else," he said in an e-mailed statement. "Others can better judge whether Mr. Smith's particular career transition is of unique interest."