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94 of 108 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Male Locker Room Humor about Investment Banking
Before going into my review, let me start with a caution. This book is the grossest, most vulgar business book I have ever read . . . by a very wide margin. This book would have been banned in Boston 50 years ago. If that sort of thing offends you, this book is a minus ten stars. Many women will feel this book is anti-female. On the other hand, if you happen to...
Published on September 19, 2000 by Donald Mitchell

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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Non-bankers might never understand
As an ex banker, I can say that Rolfe and Troob are not exaggerating a damned thing. This is banking, unplugged.
A lot of people have decided to criticize the two for whining and not "sucking it up" as any hard-working professional needs to in his first years. Anybody who has said this has no idea what he's talking about. I guarantee you that there is no...
Published on June 16, 2001


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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Made me laugh, and made me glad I'm not a banker, July 20, 2001
I'm tempted to give this one 5 stars, but time will tell -- books like these always tend to seem better when you first read them than the second time around -- especially when that's 5 years down the road.
First, it's nice to have a 90's update of what life is (supposedly) really like in the trenches of Wall St. I'd read Liar's Poker (a look at life as a trader in the 80's) just a few weeks ago. The obvious topical differences between the two are:
1) "Monkey Business" is about the 90's, not the 80's 2) "Monkey Business" looks at M&A guys, whereas LP was about (bond) traders 3) "Monkey Business" looks DLJ, whereas LP looks at Salomon Brothers.
This book is hilarious first and foremost. Anybody could read this book and get a huge laugh, although think twice before giving this to your mother to ease her concerns about your new life as a banker -- one of the authors is humorously, but graphically, frank about how he goes about his (solo) "love life" inside the office. It's the solo bit that I found so funny.
Secondly -- don't read this book if you don't want to be talked out of the banking world (at least the M&A wing). The examples of communiques between associate, vice president, back to associate, back to vice president, to sr. VP, back to associate, back to VP, ad nauseum -- all over the proper capitalization of "Donaldson, Lufkin and Jenrette" would be terrifying if they weren't so funny. Makes me think of these guys as glorified copy boys, in suits, on non-stop international flights, who *really* like to frequent strip joints.
My cousin just graduated college and just accepted his first job -- as an M&A guy for one of the big banks. Someone recommended he read this book. Unfortunately for him -- he took their advice -- and boy is *he* sweating bullets now. I never saw the guy read a book so fast in his life -- he was too terrifyingly fascinated with what was about to become of his life to put it down.
Best of luck to him -- and to you, if you're reading this as the hysterical primer on M&A life that it is.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sad but true, July 31, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle (Paperback)
One of the things I find so interesting about this book is that when reviewers who either still work in investment banking (or who cite friends who do) undermine the veracity and extremity of the authors claims, they become living proof that Troob's revelatory conclusion in the final chapters is absolutely true.
The problem with I-banking seems to be that its culture brainwashes its practioners into thinking that they are indeed Masters of the Universe - the world revolves around them. The extraordinary recruiting pitches delivered by the senior bankers and described by the authors were just the beginning of the process - reinforced by the unlimited expenses, enormous bonus checks and ego-bolstering (and not quite honest) appraisals. As M&A bankers at an elite firm, Troob and Rolfe sat at the top of a pyramid of self-perception, viewing and often treating everyone below them in a pretty insulting way. Below them in this pyramid were were M&A bankers at other firms; then, their own colleagues in other departments at CSFB, such as the equity traders and salesmen, then probably just below that, the clients. Ranking even further down the pecking order came lawyers and CPAs, and then right at the bottom the real dregs: the financial printers, photocopiers, PR people, lap-dancers. It was more or less unthinkable to any self-respecting egotistical i-banker to voluntarily leave these ranks, or even worse, move down the pyramid, except occasionally when offered huge financial enticement to defect to do the same job at a more prestigious M&A firm.
Why? It's like a mirage. I-bankers don't live on top of any pyramids, and aren't really superhuman: they're just suspended in a web of self-persuasion that they are, because otherwise why would or could any human tolerate such unpleasant working conditions? They don't usually realize that the planet would keep on rotating without the activities of their M&A department until they leave the rat race, the mirage dissolves, and they can see their former life from a normal person's perspective - apart from Troob, that is. What was so cool about this book was the extreme circumstance which led Troob to his moment of revelation - while he was still working at the bank. While extreme, it perfectly captured the unique self-centeredness of the i-bankers world in a way I don't think any similar book has done to date.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memories for those who've been there and done that!, November 21, 2003
This review is from: Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle (Paperback)
This book is spot on about the life of a junior person at an Investment Bank. As they said, you can change the name on the door but the stories are the same. My wife read the book first and I basically laid out for her practically every topic they'd be touching on before she'd get to it.

For anyone considering investment banking as a career, you really must read this book to understand EXACTLY what you are getting into. (The same is true for the spouse/prospective spouse of an associate.) Although, I should warn you that by reading this book before getting into the business, it'll remove one of the main self-motivational tools that we all used to deal with it day in and day out, the "THEY REALLY NEED ME HERE BECAUSE I'M ESSENTIAL TO THE ORGANIZATION!"

Both authors realized as many of us did that you aren't. Once you have that epiphany, you either buy into the life 100% and drink the Kool-Aid or you say thanks for the training and experience and move on. (BTW, the authors lay out for you where the real power center of the bank is. Hint for those entering the business, learn a little something about the local sports teams in order to effectively BS with the copy room guys. You REALLY, REALLY want them to like you. Pay particular attention to that chapter and lose the "I'm an MBA from Wharton/Harvard/et al" attitude.)

Overall, a quick and interesting read and highly recommended for those who invest, are contemplating the business as a career, or those who've left and just want to laugh at the insanity.
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55 of 72 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Get your hands off me, you damned dirty Ape!, July 17, 2005
This review is from: Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle (Paperback)
Somebody once said that given an infinite amount of time, a roomful of monkeys with typewriters could produce the entire works of William Shakespeare.

Now that might be true, and it might not. But one thing's for damned sure: give two monkeys a year on Wall Street and a book royalty advance, and they'll produce the rank, reeking, greenish-brown turd that is "Monkey Business".

What "Monkey Business" wants to be: an arch, caustic, crass little volume that channels up the spirit of Michael Lewis (author of the howlingly funny Wall Street tell-all "Liar's Poker") and just lays it all out, tells it like it is, conjures up a few nuggets of humor and a few gut-laughs about the modern Roman Galley slaveship that is Wall Street.

What "Monkey Business" actually is: a dull, unedited, whiney diatribe by two junior i-bankers who managed to last ONE SINGLE PALTRY YEAR at the elite investment bank Donaldson Lufkin & Jenrette, and were consigned to the copy-room, making oodles of copies of pretty promotional material used to market their Masters' services to Fortune 100 clients.

But let's back up a moment: co-authors Peter Troob and John Rolfe went straight from B-school (Harvard and Wharton, respectively) to Wall Street. That alone was a miracle, as their writing, and general grasp on how deal-making on the Street works, will quickly attest. They got coveted Associate positions with a powerful and savvy Wall Street firm, and quickly discovered they didn't like being at the low end of the totem pole. And from this bitter pill, they concluded that the way to get ahead on Wall Street is just to pay your dues, bide your time, and cross the 3 to 5 year desert that leads from corporate serfdom to a plummy VP role in, say, syndications, or M&A, or structured finance, where you get 500 grand base and a multiple of that in yummy bonuses, all the while throwing a telephone at Carstairs's head or chomping that stogey while screaming at T. Boone Pickens.

Wrong. The biggest problem with "Monkey Business"---other than the writing itself, written in *two different fonts* so you can figure out who is doing the story-telling (though both voices are at the level of an obnoxious eight-year old with remedial writing skills), is that it demeans and cheapens the real madness, and mystery, and financial wizardry done by twenty-somethings on Wall Street every day of the week.

Troob and Rolfe never made the effort to get beyond the copy-boy stage of investment banking: as a rookie i-banker, I put in the 100+ hour workweeks too. I signed the divorce papers and faxed them to my wife, too, because---as my Managing Director confided---I wouldn't have time later. I showed some grit, some ambition, a brutal attention to detail, and an utter disregard for ulcers---and was rewarded by heading up big M&A projects in the Netherlands and South America---and all in my first year. I didn't get handcuffed to the Xerox machine, like Troob and Rolfe.

The point here is this: the working world is what you make of it. "Monkey Business" is a caricature of the business, not a first-hand account, and worse still: a caricature 'written' by two guys whose Maximum Pain Index went no further than one year.

What's next? A tell-all account of consumer-giant Wal-Mart, penned by two disgrunted one-year veteran clerks? A scathing, brutal account of wheeling and deeling at Exxon, written up by a fuming gas station attendant or pump jockey?

Trying to get a handle on Wall Street by reading this book is like trying to get a feel for what a circus a ringmaster does by reading the diary of a circus monkey---and about as rewarding.

A better use of time and money?

1) For a non-bitter account by a Street veteran, try the legendary "Liar's Poker", by Michael Lewis---which is actually scathing, scalding, and really funny.

2) For a highly bitter account by a guy who also lasted just one year---but has some killer points to make on Wall Street and New York City in general---try "Riding the Bull", by Paul Stiles.

3) For a riveting account, bitter and not, of Wall Street shenanigans and hedge-fund double dealing from a guy who has way too much fun in the world of high finance, check out Jim Cramer's "Confessions of a Street Addict", which is pure high-octane hilarity.

Monkeys belong in cages with bananas: leave these guys to it. And for decency's sake---assuming this ever gets a second printing, will the publisher please change the quease-inducing cover cartoon?

JSG
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty much on the money, April 24, 2000
By A Customer
This book was at times funny. It was pretty much accurate in terms of what a junior associate does in a large investment bank. I was a MBA at a Top Three business school who never had banking experience. Like one of the authors, I went into banking completely ignorant of what a banker does. Suffice it to say, the descriptions of the interview process and the day to day tasks of being a junior banker are pretty much right on the money. This book should be required reading for those who intend to go into the business but never had the analyst experience. The trade offs are simple: lots of money (more than your classmates who are going into consulting, marketing, strategic planning, etc.) for a crummy lifestyle (lots of all-nighters, processing documents, and waiting for documents to be processed). For those who are not in the business, the comments about the word processing and printing departments (believe it or not) were sadly true. Never having worked for DLJ, I'm not sure about all the sexually deviant behavior that supposedly went on. I've never seen it in the firms I've worked with (or at least to that extent). Overall the book's an eye-opener and much needed to demystify the aura around one aspect of the investment banking business.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, if not profound, July 12, 2000
This isn't Liar's Poker--Rolfe and Troob don't have much insight into the meaning or value of investment banking as an institution. What they do have are funny stories in profusion (although many of them tend towards the gross). This book won't enlighten you as to the place of financial services in our culture, but it will give you an all-too-accurate impression of what it's like to be an associate at an investment bank.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Realistic and Funny!, April 5, 2000
By A Customer
Any and all bankers know deep in their heart that this book is realistic. I am a banker and I can guarantee that Monkey Business is the straight scoop. Yes, there is locker room humor. Yes, there is vulgarity. Yes, that is the way it is. The book is well written and really funny. Anyone with a sense of humor will love this book.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very funny, but definitely exaggerated, February 21, 2003
By 
This review is from: Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle (Paperback)
Having been an analyst at an investment bank, I faced a few situations that were very similar to the ones mentioned in the book. However, as I read it, it was clear that the authors were trying to exaggerate the pain and suffereing involved in the business. With that aside, it is a very funny account of i-banking life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fast, furious, hilarious read, April 6, 2000
By A Customer
I happened to stumble on these guys website StreetMonkey.com and found what they wrote funny. So, I bought the book and loved it. It is hilarious and I laughed out loud many times. Rolfe and Troob should be comedians. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to laugh until their stomach hurts.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars might leave you with an attitude that's too cynical, November 27, 2002
By 
M. Temelkov "mtemelkov" (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle (Paperback)
I will only add this to all that's been said so far - the one line that made most impression on me, was when Troob said about Rolfe when he first met him (s.th. like) 'he did not know anything, but he wanted to learn and did not have an attitude'. if you lack these qualities, you'll soon be made to feel sorry that you ever accepted a job offer from 'the best and the brightest'.
so, quite useful advice right there. ironically, by cursing left and right, the authors leave the reader with a supercynical attitude, undoing one of the few real pieces of wisdom that the book has to offer. i'm not defending the big guns, just trying to say that you can only hurt yourself if you allow the Dark Side 'to dominate your destiny'. read Sun Tsu instead..
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Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle
Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle by Peter Troob (Paperback - April 1, 2001)
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