“Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” by Edwin LeFevre

Reminiscences_of_a_Stock_OperatorI’ve found no stock trading book as fun to read as this one. Cramer’s first Mad Money book is the only one I’d rate as even partially enjoyable. This one happens to be 100% enjoyable. It’s a novel, a memoir, incidentally a manual, and a bit of philosophy all rolled into one. The narrator is Livingston, a boyhood wonder with a keen memory for figures and an intuitive eye for fluctuations. His career tale is about boom and bust, reputation and ostracism, the constant ups and downs, the cycle of repeats and his need to secure and then raise the stakes. The author LeFevre presents the stock operator’s account in a conversational 1st person voice that is likeable and durable.

This book was written in 1923. Of course the technology and forecasting game has been vastly affected by computer technology, but many of the fundamental rules of playing the market remain the same. The novel presents advice in the context of the story. For example:

“…after making and losing millions of dollars I want to tell you this: It was never my thinking that made the big money for me. It was always my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight!”

It’s a fine novel with an interesting story, even without the aspects of being a lesson book in Market wisdom and attitude. It demonstrates by action as much as it tells. Livingston believes there is nothing the stock market hasn’t already experienced. It’s up to a trader/investor to read the signs and take some risks in order to be a profitable player. The reader will need to be willing to extrapolate in time and find the underlying market dynamics and psychology of traders as applied to Now. This story can make you want to lay out a stake, open a wildcat portfolio, and play the ticker with a Zen sort of knowing recklessness.