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Leg the Spread: A Woman's Adventures Inside the Trillion-Dollar Boys Club of Commodities Trading Hardcover

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway; First Edition first Printing edition (October 5, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767908554
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767908559
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #426,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this insightful volume, Lynn gives readers a glimpse into the world of the "Merc," or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, a rough, gritty, action-packed scene dictated by money and testosterone—a place where women are outsiders. Lynn, an artistic type who never properly explains (and doesn't seem to know herself) why she wanted to prove herself in a place like the Merc, uses the stories of the many women she interviewed and heard stories of to illustrate how a man's success is easily measured in dollars, while a woman's success takes into account many complicated factors. The harassment, teasing, double standards, unfair practices and overall rough-and-tumble environment make for an exciting, fast-paced backdrop in which men are traders and women are wannabes, gold diggers and worse. The book's pace is good, the women's stories are sometimes downright riveting and this account reads like a novel. These women aren't heroines—most are in it for the money, and there is little in the way of happy endings or morals for the stories. But readers are treated to a skilled presentation of the sights, sounds and even smells of a world that few women—or men, for that matter—ever truly understand.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Lynn, a writer and a clerk at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (the Merc), tells stories about the famous trading floor and the few women who flourish in that environment of bad behavior, extraordinary skill and instincts, breathtaking greed, and heroic courage. Futures trading focuses on taking risks, with unlimited potential for profit and staggering loss by debt-strapped players. Trading is a one-dimensional job in which money is put ahead of creative, intellectual, or emotional satisfaction, and nothing matters other than proving yourself in competition to make more money. Women learn to ignore foul language and cease to be intimidated by it, learn to ignore sexist comments and suggestions, and a few are very successful. The author tells us that futures trading is a secret-handshake society, which continues to be a testosterone-saturated world where there is no room for boys much less women. The winner is the one who dies with the most toys, and "winning" is what this business is all about. Mary Whaley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Cari Lynn is a journalist and the author of four books of nonfiction, including THE WHISTLEBLOWER: Sex Trafficking, Military Contractors and One Woman's Fight for Justice with Kathryn Bolkovac, and LEG THE SPREAD: Adventures Inside the Trillion-Dollar Boys' Club of Commodities Trading. Her first novel, MADAM: A Novel of New Orleans will be published in February, 2014. Cari has written feature articles for numerous publications, including O, the Oprah Magazine, Health, the Chicago Tribune, and Deadline Hollywood. She has taught at Loyola University and received an M.A. in Writing from the Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Maryland. A longtime Chicagoan, she currently lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

I think the author does a terrific job of capturing the men's club atmosphere at the Merc.
M. H. Bayliss
I've worked very hard to get where I am and it's insulting that someone who never put her heart into this job can write a book and somehow people believe her.
Having learned about financial markets on the job, I wish I had read this book and its explanations of key terminology and theories years ago.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By takingadayoff TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Does anyone else out there like to read about other people's jobs? Even though I don't particularly want to be a clerk or a trader in Chicago or New York, it was fascinating to read about it. Cari Lynn's story of her two years as a clerk in an aggressively masculine job is easy to read, a result of her background and years of experience as a journalist. She describes how she got the job, how she learned to do the job, and the day-to-day routine of the work.

She really gets going when she describes some of the characters she got to know. One of my favorites is the eccentric Alice, who trades all morning at home, then holds court all afternoon at the dining room at the Board of Trade. Knowledgable in many subjects, she is obsessed with trading and tremendously successful at it. Cari Lynn learns a lot from her.

You can learn a lot of terminology and ins and outs of the trade from this book, or just skim the more technical parts and enjoy the atmosphere and the unbelievable tales of what goes on inside as millions of dollars change hands, sometimes deliberately, sometimes by accident.

Leg the Spread reminds me of several other recent "on the job" books I've enjoyed: Richard Yancey's Confessions of a Tax Collector and Zac Unger's Working Fire.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By MsLuLu on March 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Originally, I thought the book was written by a successful and well-established trader. It was in a way more refreshing that it wasn't. Really, aren't there enough auto-biography success stories out there already? I was refreshed by the way she accurately depicts the highs and lows of the commodity trading industry. As a former trader in Chicago, a lot of what she said brought back memories. The most impressive thing about the book wasn't the wild crazy stories or the coming and going of BIG money. For me it was how she was able to discover herself through the temptation of big money. I was able to take a lot out of the book. She was able to point out things I had a hard time verbalizing.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By M. H. Bayliss on October 17, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Well, I know nothing about trading, so I can't claim that I know everything she says is true, but one thing IS true: it's a fascinating read! Rarely have I been this sucked into a book which is a riveting account (one woman's account, true) of trading pits at the Merc. I had no idea about all the various pits, seeming randomness of the ups and downs of the markets and all the tremendous egos that come to play in this high testoterone filled environment. I think the author does a terrific job of capturing the men's club atmosphere at the Merc. I have no doubt that her view is true to form. The reviewer who criticizes her is probably one of the louts she describes. The sad part of the book is that these people are addicted to trading, but they don't seem to enjoy the money itself, just the process of winning it. I guess trading is an addiction like any other that provides thrills and dramatic turns, but the depressing part is that it sucks the heart out of you. Near the end of the book, Lynn describes a YOUNG group of traders who came from working class backgrounds and were actually enjoying themselves and their money, but it is clear that in 20 years, they'll be the same rude, fat, balding, bitter men that make up most of the upper level traders. This book made me want to learn a lot more about trading and the pits -- I envy the author for seeing all this firsthand but being able to escape unscathed, unlike many in the book who were not as lucky.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Wisdom on February 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
A disappointing book. The author clerked at the CME for two years, and "Leg the Spread" is a quasi-memoir, although it's mostly a grab-bag of anecdotes and life stories of Merc traders and clerks she got to know. The book is too pedestrian to be "literature" but insufficiently trashy/raunchy to be a guilty pleasure

A third of the characters are male, and they're uninteresting, both in real life and in the book. Frat boy hijinks, "$20,000 if you can eat 50 McNuggets", fast money, fast cars and fast women, fistfights in the pits, drug/alcohol burnouts, financial blowups, yada yada yada. The women characters are portrayed more sympathetically by the author, but even their stories are mostly cartoonish and uninvolving. A shapely clerk tells her boss, "Give me a trading badge, or I'll call you wife and tell her about us." Another clerk is pushed to her death from a rooftop because she "knew too much" about prearranged trades on the floor

Lamentably, there's plenty of wide-eyed "so much money changing hands so fast!!" sprinkled through the book, and the author has the irritating habit of capitalizing words such as Market, Floor, Open and Close, as if the were proper nouns

The best 10- 20 pages of the book are about Bev Gelman, purportedly the largest local in backmonth Euros, earning >$10m/year, and thereby the most successful woman floortrader in history. In her description of Ms Gelman's trading, though she doesn't understand the details of the spreads & strips being traded, the author comes close to grasping what trading is really about, ie having the brains and guts and conviction to come into a market where "everyone" in the pit is 1-bid/3-offer, and deciding to be either 2-bid or 2-offer, for better or worse

Unaccountably "Leg the Spread" is >300 pages. But even if the gist of it were boiled down to 50- 100 pages I can't recommend it
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