Being that Eddie is working on a fiction book recommendation for next week's NSFW, I figured I would provide a fiction recommendation of my own in case he ends up not liking it. Call it a hedge!
From the acknowledged classic, “,” I move to another book that should be on many Wall Street reading lists, but has yet to make an appearance on any that I’ve seen. A work of fiction from the dawn of the First World War, “The Financier” is a masterful piece of work by Theodore Dreiser, who thoroughly did his research into the Wall Street of the time as a journalist.
Probably best known for “Sister Carrie,” which a bunch of us have probably had to suffer through at some point in high school/college, Dreiser completed “The Financier” as the first part of a trilogy which he actually only finished a few days before he died in the late 1940’s.
In 1912 when the book was published, there was no Federal Reserve, no SEC, and (almost) no rules. The book itself actually takes place starting in the 1860’s, when protagonist Frank Cowperwood starts breaking into Wall Street by selling soap. As he works his way to the top of the Philadelphia elite of the age, he finds himself battling real-world events such as the bankruptcy of Jay Cooke & Co. (that time period’s equivalent of Lehman) and the Great Fire of Chicago.
Frank’s character has all the necessary facets to succeed on the Street in any era: desire, drive, and a refusal to accept no for an answer. A particularly awesome scene is his pursuit of an older woman who initially rebuffs his advances. I found it personally pretty inspiring the way he finally won her over, although today it wouldn’t be nearly as acceptable!
Eventually of course, our boy Frank does run into trouble, and the ensuing detail and intensity with which his trial plays out is like what would happen if the cameras followed Bud Fox into the court room at the end of “Wall Street.” The conclusion was superbly written and tied together, leaving me screaming for the sequel, “The Titan.”
Dreiser is an excellent writer, showing a little more polish and displaying more of a documentary/biography style than his earlier work. Some of the scenes are absolutely poignant, especially the ones between Frank, his father, and (later) his mistress.
That being said, it’s still 1912, so sections of these 400-or-so pages will probably be tough to read. However, the story is extremely compelling and can be read as anything from an intellectual character study on ambition to a straight-up entertaining, old-school Wall Street ride. How this book is not considered a 20th-century classic is beyond me.
Read up, monkeys!
Monkey’s Review 1: Barbarians At the Gate
Monkey’s Review 2: The Financier
Monkey’s Review 3: Decision Points
Monkey’s Review 4: Debunkery
Monkey’s Review 5: When Genius Failed
Monkey’s Review 6: Monkey Business
Monkey’s Review 7: Death Of The Banker
Monkey’s Review 8: A Journey
Monkey’s Review 9: Damn It Feels Good To Be A Banker
Monkey’s Review 10: The Quants
Monkey’s Review 11: All About Hedge Funds
Monkey’s Review 12: The Unlikely Disciple
Monkey’s Review 13: Adventure Capitalist
Monkey’s Review 14: The Hedge Fund Book
Monkey’s Review 15: Investing In Hedge Fund of Funds
Monkey’s Review 16: Hilarity Ensues
Monkey’s Review 17: The Prince
Monkey’s Review 18: Markets Never Forget (But People Do)
Monkey’s Review 19: The Money Culture