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Diary of a Very Bad Year: Interviews with an Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager [Kindle Edition]

Anonymous Hedge Fund Manager , n+1 , Keith Gessen
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $14.99
Kindle Price: $9.78
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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

“Diary of a Very Bad Year is a rarity: a book on modern finance that’s both extraordinarily thoughtful and enormously entertaining.”

— James Surowiecki, author of The Wisdom of Crowds


“A great read. . . . HFM offers a brilliant financial professional’s view of the economic situation in real time, from September 2007, when problems in financial markets began to surface, until late summer 2009.”



n+1 is the rightful heir to Partisan Review and the New York Review of Books. It is rigorous, curious and provocative.”

— Malcolm Gladwell


A profoundly candid and captivating account of the economic crisis and subprime mortgage collapse, from an anonymous hedge fund manager, as told to the editors of New York literary magazine n+1.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Expanding on a 2007 interview in the literary magazine n+1, editor and interviewer Gessen draws together two years' worth of interviews with a despairing anonymous hedge fund manager. HFM, as Gessen calls him, didn't go to business school or major in economics, but has been working successfully in hedge funds for over a decade. With some context provided by Gessen, HFM schools readers in the stories behind the death of Bear Stearns, the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the plunging dollar, the bailouts, the Madoff scandal, and, finally, the upswing. Though it's interesting to have a personal take on the tumultuous past two years—and HFM ends the interviews when the stress finally drives him to take a semisabbatical—the decision to tell this story in an interview format is tricky and ultimately unsuccessful; the choppy transcription format distances readers from the ideas at hand, and the points lose their punch. Fans of the original article will find this expansion compelling, but other readers curious about the factors behind the crash will do better elsewhere. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

This book is a series of interviews with an anonymous hedge-fund manager (HFM) by the co-editor of a literary magazine (who admits to being ill-informed on finance); he sets out to understand what is happening on Wall Street. The HFM offers a brilliant financial professional's view of the economic situation in real time, from September 2007, when problems in financial markets began to surface, until late summer 2009, when the financial meltdown generally subsided and the financial community went back, in HFM's view, to business as usual. With definitions of financial terms and products, and explanations of domestic and global issues as they occur, HFM draws from his decade of nonstop work as a hedge-fund manager to educate the interviewer and us as the financial crisis unfolds. This is a great read. The interviews are edited in a readily understandable manner and will provide a thoughtful perspective for a wide range of library patrons who want to learn about the recent financial debacle. --Mary Whaley

Product Details

  • File Size: 453 KB
  • Print Length: 260 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; 1 edition (June 22, 2010)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003P2VMZC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,085 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
This book far surpasses the expectations set by its simple premise -- a series of interviews of an unnamed hedge fund manager who specialized in trading emerging market debt through the financial crisis of 2008. No secrets are revealed about the inner workings of the global financial system, and the factual content of the book can be found elsewhere. This book is great not because it explains a credit crunch, or how to trade bonds or manage portfolio risk (it doesn't even attempt to do these latter things), but because it provides an intelligent, funny, highly opinionated synthesis of far-reaching finance, economics, and even philosophy. Many readers will disagree with points made by the anonymous hedge fund manager who holds court in these pages, but I think any reader would benefit from the internal dialog with him we have while reading.

The end of the book, after the crisis is over, is not as compelling as the first part of the text. However, even the first 100 pages more than justifies the cost of the book and the time spent reading it.
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30 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great for a quick read July 3, 2010
I don't follow the news very much, just episodes of Daily Show that let me know the general state of the world. So I knew next to nothing about the causes and implications of the financial meltdown or the rationale of the bailout. I picked this book up because I liked the interview format and thought I could learn a little. It turned out to be an amazing read: it was fairly easy to understand, both the interviewer and interviewee were likable, and it gave me a lot of insight into the financial world. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand more about what happened with the economy, but find other, denser books too daunting.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Bad Year Good Book August 29, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If I would have known that this was a book of edited transcripts of interviews I probably wouldn't have bought it; but I didn't and I did and I'm glad I did. Unlike some of the other reviewers, I have read a lot about the financial crisis but this book is a unique look at that crisis from the heart and mind of an insider who lived through it. Anonymous is not cigar chomping Neanderthal, Wall Street aristocrat or a nerdy math wizard. He is sort of a really smart everyman; a guy you'd like to have a beer with. So buy this book get in the hammock with a beer and enjoy your weekend.
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15 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. Easy Read. July 6, 2010
This was a great book. Very informative from the perspective of a seemingly objective financial expert. It's a long interview conducted over a few years, so it makes it very easy to read. With the amount of info conveyed, as a non-finance guy, I did not find it to be overwhelmingly academic at all, even though I learned a tremendous amount of new information.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Read Just One! August 15, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a good book when combined with others. It can give the reader a good, intuitive introduction to how trading and markets work. If you read this book and no others, you'll know a little and have been entertained. If you go on from this book, you'll find it can serve as a good base for further learning. As someone with experience in the securities business, I enjoyed HFM's clarity of exposition, but didn't find him the brilliant chap the interviewer seems to believe he is. He's a smart guy, no doubt, and he thinks a lot about what he does, but let's not blow this out of perspective, folks. His thoughts on Lehman Bros, Bear,AIG and Madoff are particularly interesting. Not a classic, but a good exposition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful mind September 9, 2013
By Athan
I don't think you can read this book and make sense of it if you don't work in Finance.

But if I'm wrong and you can, that would make it my favorite book on the crisis. For the sake of keeping score, I rank this anonymous hedge fund manager above Joseph Stiglitz, Andrew Ross Sorkin, Robert Schiller, Alan Blinder, Neil Barofsky, Anatole Kaletsky, Simon Johnson, the lot of them. To say nothing of Matt Taibi, Michael Lewis, Jeff Sachs, Hank Paulson, Paul Krugman and the various other guys who have an axe to grind (much as I have thoroughly enjoyed some of their work).

The arguments are analytical, dispassionate and very clearly thought through. I found it impossible to disagree with anything the guy says and even on the bits he ultimately gets wrong I swear I can remember that with the information available at the time I was arriving at similar conclusions.

The book is proof, if anything, that markets at some level work: exposure to the market makes you think and analyze, it forces you to get to the bottom of what's going on. Ah, and it keeps you away from the extremes.

I particularly enjoyed reading what the author had to say about Simon Johnson's brave and inventive but ultimately flawed article in the Atlantic.

There are two things the book does not do: first, it does not have any particular order, it is not a narrative in any way shape or form like Sorkin, Blinder or Paulson are; second, it does not attempt to explain why it all happened in 2008, what was different in the last 20 years that did not hold true before.

For that, you'll need Stockman, which is however a very difficult book to read and an impossible one to enjoy.

The "Diary" has strengthened the faith I have in markets.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome March 25, 2013
By nic
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great read. Interviewer is kind of annoying, but the HFM is really fun to listen to. Highly recommend this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Overview of the '08 Financial Crisis, But Something is Missing
There's no denying that the HFM interviewed in this book has a magnetic personality and compelling speaking style. He obviously understands stuff. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Kristina H
3.0 out of 5 stars Great insights
HFM has a way of eloquently describing what happened in the financial crisis, and that made it an enjoyable read. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Geoffrey Chen
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
The author is witty and the book is very good. I found myself really enjoying it. It doesn't speak to the current malaise that is going on in the financial markets but does give... Read more
Published 21 months ago by tmybrgr
4.0 out of 5 stars Quick read
I found this book to be very entertaining. Quick read, following a interview, first time reading this type of book and it was very fun.
Published 21 months ago by Beau Crenshaw
3.0 out of 5 stars This HFM isn't involved!
The sales pitch of book was a recap of how the financial crisis affected the hedge fund industry, and was billed as a 'tell-all' from a hedge fund manager. Read more
Published 21 months ago by Dane
5.0 out of 5 stars Doesn't get better
I read a lot of finance (and non-finance) books and it doesn't get better than this. I don't work in finance-I'm an accountant-but I'd probably be considered a finance-type because... Read more
Published 21 months ago by ndu867
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting perspective and very thoughtful guy
I kind of stumbled upon this book but I really enjoyed it even though I have read many others that cover the financial crisis. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Michael Romero
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Good Explanation
This book gives a great, and one sided explanation of the events that led to our financial crisis. Because it is a series of interviews, however, it proceeds in fits and starts... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Nona
5.0 out of 5 stars He lost, but will win.
I read so much, but I feel like I am behind the times.
Ergo, everything I say will be behind the curve and derivative. Read more
Published on July 27, 2012 by J. Edgar Mihelic
4.0 out of 5 stars A valuable read
Perhaps the best thing about this long interview with the anonymous hedge fund manager (I am convinced he exists and is not a made-up composite) is that it gives the reader "tone"... Read more
Published on July 15, 2012 by Nicholas Warren
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More About the Author

n+1 is a Brooklyn-based magazine of literature, culture, and politics published three times yearly. It was founded in 2004 by Keith Gessen (All the Sad Literary Young Men), Mark Greif, Chad Harbach (The Art of Fielding), Benjamin Kunkel (Indecision), and Marco Roth and immediately attracted attention in New York and beyond. A. O. Scott described it in the New York Times Magazine as part of "a generational struggle against laziness and cynicism"; German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote, "they intend nothing less than to reimagine and reestablish the world."

Since its founding, n+1 has published Elif Batuman's remarkable first essays (later collected in The Possessed), Mark Greif's classic essays "Against Exercise," "On Radiohead," and "Afternoon of the Sex Children," excerpts from Helen DeWitt's latest novels (most recently Lightning Rods), and other memorable pieces. Each issue is about the length of a novel (200 pages), and features criticism, memoirs, fiction, reviews, and political essays. We also publish small books (most notably What Was the Hipster?) and at Amazon have made Kindle editions of all our publications and Kindle Singles of individual pieces available.

Our fall issue, "Conversion Experience," features a report from the Gathering of the Juggalos, an essay by Mark Greif on Stanley Cavell as a philosopher and teacher, an excerpt from Helen DeWitt's new novel, a history of the music website Pitchfork, and an essay on the politics and angst of gay marriage. We encourage you to take a look at let us know what you think. You can read more about us, browse web-only content, and find contact information at


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