Thursday, September 05, 2013

The Stock Market Book That Gave Me Nightmares for 8 Weeks

Several years ago, I read the non-fiction autobiography called The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort. At the time, I was doing a lot of reviews of a lot of books, but I held off on this one because the book gave me nightmares for eight weeks (especially one of the hospital scenes). I didn't want anyone else to get nightmares at the time. But now that the book is going to be made into a movie directed by Martin Scorsese and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, I think it's OK to tell others about this book and let them have eight weeks of nightmares, if they choose to read it. Be forewarned! (BTW, I actually enjoyed the book in spite of my nightmares. More about that shortly.)

This is probably the most disturbing book I've ever read, not just of investment books but of all books. So what could be so disturbing about a guy who was involved with investments and the stock market? The book is about a guy who started up a pump-and-dump stock brokerage firm, whereby he would buy up a bunch of low priced and penny stocks and have the brokers foist the stocks on the unsuspecting public at much higher prices. He ended up making multi-millions of dollars and became very wealthy. Sound boring? Let me give you a Twitter style version of what it's really about (without doing too many spoilers):

  • huge amounts of cocaine
  • four prostitutes with one guy
  • excessive adultery, of course
  • taping large wads of cash to a girl's body so it can get through customs to be laundered
  • throwing little people through the office
  • walking through the halls of a hospital with a hypodermic hanging out of buttocks (this was not the hospital scene that gave me nightmares)
  • pushing a guy out a window from a very high building
  • extreme sex
  • the yacht that almost sank
  • expensive cars and private jets
  • enormous amounts of money
  • extremely powerful Quaaludes
  • helicopter crashes

    So the above is a list of the reasons why you might want to read it.

    I did like reading the book for a couple reasons. First, it gave an extremely close-up view of the inside world of the pump-and-dump brokerage industry and the people involved in it. Second, many parts of the book were very humorous.

    The one drawback I found about the book was the in the first chapter, Belfort starts out being "lower than pond scum." In the next chapter, he is wealthy and successful with his own helicopter and pilot. I would like to have seen more on how he made it from the bottom to the top. Maybe he is saving that for another book.

    Anyway, if you are offended by lots of dirty words, then don't read The Wolf of Wall Street. If you are offended by any of the items on the list above, don't read The Wolf of Wall Street. Otherwise, if you want an eye-opener on the seamy seedy side of Wall Street, then read The Wolf of Wall Street.

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