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My Book Reviews

Category: Wall Street insider
Published: 1989
Read: 1996
Reviewed: Jun 2010

Michael Lewis describes the few years he worked on Wall Street for the investment bank Salomon Brothers after graduating from Princeton as an art history major. The book concentrates on the traders of the firm and talks about some of the new markets that developed during the time - mainly mortgage trading and junk bond trading.

The book covers the different experiences Lewis went through - his hiring, the training program, being a successful bond trader, the bonus ritual, and working in London. His brief career, coincidentally, paralleled the fall of Salomon Brothers during the mid and late 1980s. The book profiles the key players of the firm, including CEO John Gutfreund, John Meriwether, and Lewis Ranieri.

The book is well-written, comical, and informative. It quickly became a classic and virtually invented the whole "Wall Street insider" genre. It was the first book to expose the ridiculous inner workings of investment banks - from the inexperienced newbies doing million-dollar trades, to the pervasive culture of pathological cluelessness and immaturity.

But even though the book is still relatable today, it has become a bit dated by now. These days, Wall Street is populated by quants and MBAs, rather than the shoot-from-the-hip types.

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