Customer Reviews

353
4.3 out of 5 stars
The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader's Tale of Spectacular Excess
Format: HardcoverChange
Price:$19.63 + Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 2, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book was absolutely awesome - it was everything a memoir should be. It was brutally honest, extremely well written and engaging but not over the top, and didn't come across as overly self focused.

The thing that I think I loved the most was that it was a really unique perspective that most people wouldn't have a lot of access to. I don't know people that make 2 million dollar bonuses, so it was fascinating based on that alone. I also don't know much about the world of finances or Wall Street, so that was also fascinating (and disturbing).

I also really appreciated the chronology. You become lured into his drug addiction just like he was. He believed he could quit and as you're reading it, you do too. It's written so that you become attached to the people involved and experience his life as he's experiencing it. I loved the honesty. He gives you enough detail to make it real but not so much that you feel like you're looking at him naked - it's a balance that's difficult to achieve and he did it flawlessly.

The writing is perfect. Sometimes the story carries the writing and sometimes the writing carries the story, but this had both. He nailed it.

I would say the only disappointment I had was (spoiler alert) that he didn't end up being able to reconcile with his daughter's mom. But that's not really the book so much as the story and I'm a sucker for happy endings. He handles it well though, and you can totally see why the relationship fell apart.

Overall an amazing book that I'll recommend to everyone I know. Well worth the read.
55 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
33 of 38 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon June 24, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Duff writes well and I guess he would have done well if he had pursued his original ambition to be a journalist. Instead he took a detour into finance and landed up as a gofer on the trading floor in a well known investment bank. He worked his way up and eventually became a trader in his own right and discovered in himself skills that made him a good one. For example, he did not fall in love with any position he took and was quick to cut losses. He also had sound instincts about the direction the market would head and the steady nerves to bet big on this. So, in glory years, he made a lot of money for his firm and for himself.

As he became successful there were wild parties with alcohol and girls and eventually cocaine, lots of cocaine. He lost control, quit before he was fired, went into rehab, recovered built his career back and became addicted again, went into another rehab and hopefully is now clean and will remain so. But - as he mentions at the end of his book - he has lost his money, wrecked his marriage, shares custody of his daughter and is not sure what the future will being.

Why three stars? I took away one star because he did not reveal as much as I expected he would about the shenanigans of Wall Street Trading. He does mention stuff like how brokers he places orders with routinely 'front run'. That is, they buy stock in the same companies BEFORE they execute his order, his big order drives the price up and they then sell at a profit. This is a practice both illegal and routine. He also has an interesting anecdote about how he was able to get his own back on one such trader by placing a big order with her to be executed at a specific time, waiting for her and her friends to front-run and buy the stock for their accounts, and then canceling his order. Would have liked lots more details about such activity but there was hardly any. Too much of the book was taken up by accounts of his sorry addiction and while I sympathize, I do not have much interest in this.

I took away another star because he rarely, if ever, provides context for his claims. For example, he asserts that traders A and B are the best in the business but does not tell you who their peers and competitors are, how they fare in comparative terms and what the indicia of such success are. Certainly he, and his friends, moved in a fast, drug laced arena. But is this the norm in the industry? What do others do? How wide-spread is the practice? How does he know? None of these questions are answered.

Also, the publicity for the book touts his employment by the Galleon Group founded and run by Raj Rajaratnam and and suggests that the book will give you the real scoop on what happened there. This is patently false. There are some vague suggestions that Raj did indulge in insider trading but you will get much more information by browsing the New York Times.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 3, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book at first reminded me an awful lot of Michael Lewis's 1989 book Liar's Poker (later of Moneyball fame). The basic plot starts out the same--bright but not particularly qualified young guy gets a job on Wall Street and is amazed at how much money he can make, and how arrogant and crude the guys around him are (Lewis has a guy known as Big Swinging Dick, while this book has a guy known as Baby Arm, for similar reasons), and gradually comes to accept that he has a right to this sort of wealth, but in the end, sees the error of his ways.

But this latest version of the plot is actually more personal and less about Wall Street as the problem, although in the end, he comes to the conclusion that he can't work there anymore and survive as a human being. But in this case, the book was written more or less as therapy, in an attempt to come clean and stay clean. Turney Duff developed a major cocaine addiction, and destroyed his relationship with the mother of his child along the way. His downfall also happened to coincide with the 2007-2008 meltdown in the financial markets, so he also lost his %$2 million dollar home, which went underwater almost as soon as he (inadvisedly) bought a mansion 2 hours away from where he worked.

However, this is not just "guy from the hood finds religion and stops using." This is advertised as "A Wall Street Trader's Tale of Spectacular Excess," and so there is plenty of ammunition here for anyone who questions why a guy on Wall Street should be paid a million dollars a year or more. Duff majored in journalism, and he came into the business of trading on Wall Street with no background and no special skills. His uncle put him in touch with someone, his interview had nothing to do with what he knew about economics or finance, and yet he got the job and basically just lucked into vast amounts of money. His particular job is to call brokers and place buy and sell orders. The brokers also make a lot of money every time he trades, so he is just one layer of a layer-cake of people making money off of money. Where is the real wealth? Oh, that is made in factories and farms and mines, not on Wall Street. But the guy who works 80 hours a week in a factory is lucky to make $40,000, while these jokers make 10, 20, or 50 times that.

The amount of wining and dining, golf trips, limousines, trips on private jets, and more (much more!) is pretty stunning. It is not at all hard to see how a young guy could get totally caught up in this lifestyle and find it hard to imagine any other line of work. Turney Duff presents himself as a fun guy, a guy who wasn't particularly cutthroat, who wanted everyone to like him. He was far from the worst of the worst.

The story starts off kind of slow--I'm not really very interested in his relationship with his father or shoveling snow in Kennebunk, Maine, and it doesn't seem very relevant to where the story eventually goes. But you can't help enjoying the ride as the perks get larger and larger, the fun never stops, and then the descent into hell begins. At the end, it became a real page-turner as the real people around him, like Raj Rajaratnam, actually got perp-walked to prison by the FBI, and he thinks the feds are stalking him as well.

Michael Lewis later said that to his horror, his expose in Liar's Poker was taken by the next generation of young Turks as a how-to guide on how to get rich on Wall Street. Hopefully, this memoir will teach the important lesson that the cost of selling your soul includes drug addiction and lying bleeding on the street and sleeping under your desk.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 28, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I will let you in a little secret (though I think I admitted this in my review of Wolf of Wall Street already … I will read any book and see any movie that comes out regarding life on Wall Street. I can know ahead of time that it is going to be cartoonishly stupid, and they often are, and I will still read or see it. Some are quite serious in nature (see my lengthy list of reviews covering the financial crisis of 2008), and some are entertainment-driven (the Wolf of Wall Street is a case in point). Michael Lewis may be known to many of you for Moneyball and The Blind Side, but the book that made him famous, Liar’s Poker, literally began a genre of books describing the excesses of Wall Street behavior. I’m not sure that any book in the genre since Liar’s Poker have been quite as good, but many have tried with varying degrees of success. And I read all of them.

Part of me thinks I read all of this stuff because it just fascinates me what people think about the financial advisory profession. I am a corner office managing director guy at a huge Wall Street firm, but I eat dinner with my wife and kids almost every single night. I’ve seen plenty of folks misbehave, but not any more than at an action sports trade show or a real estate office holiday party. It is the BUSINESS of Wall Street I love – the business of advising on capital. In case you haven’t heard me say it before, I LOVE free market capitalism, and there is no free market capitalism without capital markets. Therefore, I love the business of capital markets. And in the United States of America, we call that business “Wall Street”, so there you go.

Anyway, now that my little secret fetish is out (regarding guilty pleasure movie watching and book reading), let me explain what I was expecting out of Turney Duff’s The Buy Side: A Wall Street Trader’s Tale of Spectacular Excess, and let me tell you what I got instead. I was expecting another infantile tale of some piker who, imagine this, liked drugs and sex – a lot. I was expecting a book claiming that every single person in a 50-mile vicinity of the Hudson River lives the same way. And I was expecting a book where a failed piker would blame Wall Street’s business immorality for his lack of success in the business. What I got, on the other hand, was very, very different.

I am not sure I would call the book a mere story of a Wall Street burnout. First of all, the real-life narrative itself is quite rare. For a young man educated in Ohio, a state many Wall Street elites are unaware is a part of the union, to become a prominent buy side trader is rare enough. But for the path to that trading job to have been an admin assistant job on the retail side of the business is utterly unheard of. Mr. Duff describes his journey with skill and literary flair. By the time he ends up at Galleon Group, a massive hedge fund which has since blown up behind the insider trading convictions of its key personnel, I am already enjoying the book, and realizing it is not going to be at all what I expected.

Duff gives readers a far more sensible and credible explanation of what he did for a living than many attempts at describing the business do. Unlike the pathetic scene in Wolf of Wall Street where Leonardo Dicaprio starts yelling to the FBI about “collateralized debt obligations” (before there was such a thing, and something he to this day would have absolutely no knowledge of or participation in whatsoever), Duff does not merely throw out finance-sounding vocabulary to tease the readers and get back to the stories of sex and drugs. Yes, there are a lot of stories about sex and drugs (more drugs than sex), but the book doesn’t insult its readers with disingenuous or vanilla descriptions of high finance. It is comprehensible but sharp, and that is a tough thing to do.

The book does go into exhaustive detail of the demons which brought down Mr. Duff’s career as a trader. In fairness to the author, though, it simply does not read as a glamorization of that lifestyle. Jordan Belfort agonized his readers with an almost frat-boy like description of his shenanigans in the Wolf of Wall Street book (which he pretty much had to do because there weren’t ten pages of actual business material). Duff isn’t bragging. He’s confessing. And if you aren’t rooting for him throughout the final chapters of the book to find recovery, to find sobriety, and to find God, then you just aren’t human.

The book really is an addiction tale more than a business thriller, but it is compelling, honest, and extremely inviting. I spent some time reading some interviews Duff gave after the book came out and he blew me away with his candor. There is no attempt to demonize all of Wall Street – quite the opposite. There is no juvenile story of how “Wall Street polluted me and made me do it”. He is a recovering addict who has been blessed with an extraordinary writing skill. I, for one, hope he’ll write again. This “genre” needs more writers like him. Michael Lewis worked in finance for about ten minutes and has spent twenty-five years getting rich from his moralizing, hypocritical tirades (though he is a remarkable writer, I confess). I do not know what the future holds for Turney Duff, but if he keeps his hands off a highball and on a keyboard, I am positive the best days of his life are still to come.

Because life on Main Street and Wall Street both testify to the powerful adage: Don’t quit before the miracle happens.
11 commentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Duff's brutally honest memoir engages the reader from the beginning to the end. Imagine pushing a key on your computer and it sticks causing a firm to lose $400,000. Duff's career starts fast, and easy success coupled with copious amounts of money lead to alcohol and cocaine abuse. Just as he reaches the pinnacle of success, he is brought low by drugs and his lack of responsibility. He forsakes his girlfriend and daughter for the seductive power of cocaine and the book ends with Duff jobless and writing this memoir.

Throughout the book, Duff describes how the price of stocks are manipulated by brokers and market makers. (Raj, his first boss from Galleon, was convicted of insider trading and sent to prison.) Duff describes how he would buy up a stock to increase its price and then short it and make money when the price dropped again. No wonder people are afraid of the market.

Duff portrays himself not as a Wall Street hero but as an unscrupulous, greedy hedonist. He says he would never work on Wall Street again, but money and power are a powerful aphrodisiac and I wonder if he will be able to resist the allure and excitement of stock trading. I also wonder what will happen when the winds blow and the white stuff beckons as he sits alone at his typewriter. I don't get to play the tape of his life forward but I hope it doesn't get rewound so that he ends up like Bill Murray in "Ground Hog Day."
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon May 13, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The world of finance has changed. Tens of thousands of people lost their jobs in the crash of 2008 and its aftermath. There are headlines about banks firing hundreds of people. The big salaries and crazy bonuses are gone for most of the people who still have jobs in finance. The job market remains bleak and enrollment dropped this year for some Masters programs in finance.

Once upon a time it was different. Before the fall, finance was booming and hedge fund traders we raking in huge bonuses. This past world is the world in which Turney Duff lived and forms the core of his book Buy Side.

Turney Duff did not major in finance as an undergraduate. He has no skills in mathematics that he divulges. He was a journalism major who was trying, unsuccessfully, to find a job in New York. He was able to get a job at Morgan Stanley because of personal connections through his uncle.

Turney Duff's story has a bit of a Horatio Alger in it. He started out as a lowly much abused clerk. He dreamed of being a trader, although he didn't really know what traders did and he knew every little about the markets. He worked hard, suffered through the abuse and eventually to a job at Galleon Group (joining the "Buy Side" from the Morgan Stanley "Sell Side"), which was run by Raj Rajaratnam, who was convicted of insider trading. When one of the top traders at Galleon leaves to found a hedge fund, Argus Partners, they offer Duff a job and he becomes a trader.

The trading at Galleon and Argus Partners yields millions of dollars in trading commissions to sell side brokerages and the brokers are constantly courting the "buy side" traders like Duff.

Duff is, by his account, an extremely social person who can orchestrate a great party. He's good a socializing and schmoozing. Perhaps this leads to the market information that allows him to succeed as a health care stock specialist.

Once Duff becomes a volume trader at Argus Partners he is courted heavily by the sell side brokers. The booze, drugs and escorts start to flow and Argus is the apogee of Duffs long slide.

The book is well written and Turney Duff does a good job of describing people and scenes. His description of the life he lead is pretty stark and at times painful to read. We are all heroes of our own story, but he does seem like a decent person whose life veers out of control.

The story in Buy Side has become a sort of Wall Street legend. Expensive night clubs, beautiful young women, hard drinking and drugs. Followed by the inevitable crash that this excess incurs. There is, however, a much more mundane side of Wall Street.

In many ways the Vida Loca of the brokers and traders was, even during the boom, something that only a minority indulged in. Much of finance has been taken over by people with deep skills in mathematics and software development. The so called "quants". Quants generally are not hard partying types. Drugs and booze fog the mind and if you can't think clearly, you can't work on computer models.

The funds that the quants work at use computer driven trading. What they want in return for their commissions is not access to exclusive night clubs and drugs, but excellent trade execution through the automated exchanges. The only people at their brokers that they talk to are likely to be the technical staff.

The Buy Side is engaging reading. Part of its fascination is that it is an account of a world that has passed. Given the bleak state of finance today, it's hard to remember that such boom times existed. Turney Duff's fall was a result of his own choices, not the environment. Perhaps because he had few skills other than socializing, his fall was inevitable. In many ways he's lucky that he didn't end up in jail, since he circled around the margins of insider trading. So have fun with the book. But a better picture of hedge funds can be found in Lars Kroijer's book Money Mavericks: Confessions of a Hedge Fund Manager and in Diary of a Hedge Fund Manager.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an exceptionally well-written story. It covers the author's rise and fall, his wins and losses, and his journey along the way. I am thankful that the author blames only himself for his problems instead of slinging blame upon others.

Whether you like or dislike the author and his situation does take away that this is a very interesting story of a life that is much different than most of us will live.

Whatever else the author is, he is a very good writer who tells his story very well. I recommend the book.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on August 15, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
An unexpectedly good read. We've all heard the story before (or seen the movie) but Turney Duff has a terrific writing "voice"... moves along quickly and has a good, quiet sense of humor.... This book reminds me a lot of "Heads in Beds" in that it the "voice" of the author feels true and natural and I felt I was looking inside a secret club. It confirms every bad thing you ever heard about the Street and shows you how random life can be.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle Edition
"DO NOT READ THIS BOOK IF YOU HATE: sex, alcohol, happy hour, models, ecstasy, cocaine, pornography, mature hookers, wall street mafia, drug addicts, alcoholics, NYC nightlife, insider trading, hazing, seven figure bonus checks, fake muggings, $25k birthday parties, one night stands, ABC Carpet, secret Wall Street crack houses and excess." Yep. That's what hooked into reading THE BUY SIDE by Turney Duff.

This book is an insane page-turner. All that stuff above is there, but I was also interested in the beginning and end: where Duff came from and how he landed. It was fascinating to see how a plain kid from Maine, going to a small college in Ohio, ended up swimming with a bunch of drug-fueled, excess-driven sharks. In other words, it could have happened to any of us. Wave the Benjamin Franklin carrot in front of us, and we may come biting.

Also fascinating is Duff's realizations that Wall Street success is more than Ivy League education and all-hours number punching. A lot of what made Duff shine is also reflected in this book: his personality. That, and a bit of luck. For instance, what would have happened if Duff wasn't such a fan of Melrose Place? (You gotta read the book to find out what I mean; it's worth it.)

This book has an authentic credibility to it that instantly connects. Allow me a few quotes from my fellow reviewers. David Bahsen on Amazon says he reads all these types of Wall Street books and says, "Duff gives readers a far more sensible and credible explanation of what he did for a living than many attempts at describing the business do." Joe Peta on Goodreads has written his own book about this time period on Wall Street, saying he often shared some of the same experiences at the same locals as Duff. Joe says, "that familiarity creates a very high "rings true" bar for me as a reader."

In comparing THE BUY SIDE with another book with a pack-hunting animal in its title, I would say this book is more relatable with a more settling conclusion. In the end, we all must focus on the vital importances of life. I especially love this quote from the book, "Real success on Wall Street is measured not in bonus or salary but in photographs on desks of children wearing soccer uniforms and caps and gowns. Success on Wall Street is measured the same way it's measured by a factory worker, a math teacher, or an engineer with four children in Maine." (Duff also directly addresses the book-turned-movie title on his blog.)

I want to thank Crown Publishing for reaching out to me and sending over a copy of this book. I went in expecting excess, but walked away with life lessons. Excellent.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon December 24, 2013
Format: HardcoverVine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I seem to be reading a string of books about addiction these days: first Michael Clune's "White Out" about his heroin addiction; then Lawrence Osborne's "The Wet and the Dry" about his alcoholism; and now "The Buy Side," which details the author's struggles with alcoholism and cocaine addiction while living the high life on Wall Street during the early 2000s. Of the three, this book would be my least favorite. The author lacks both Dr. Clune's poetical writing style and Mr. Osborne's arrival at some depth of introspection and research concerning his addiction.

While I'm glad on a general level that this book's author does eventually get clean, it's hard to feel much of a connection with him or his fate on a personal level. After wading through 300 pages of his litany of shallow, selfish, arrogant, and unapologetically cruel dealings with others, the reader might even be excused for feeling a little schadenfreude at his downfall. The author might be able to connect better with the reader if he developed his epilogue further so that the reader can get a better sense of the hopefully improved man that he is today.

I also found it hard to follow a lot of the Wall Street slang that the author throws about throughout the book; at several points, I had no idea what he was talking about. In fact, I still would have a hard time explaining just exactly what a buy side versus a sell side is. That kind of seems like a major flaw considering that it's the book's title!

Overall, if you're interested in gaining some insight about addiction, either of the other books I mentioned would be better. If you're interested in learning about Wall Street, I don't know of a specific book to recommend. But I don't feel like I really understand how Wall Street works any better after reading this book than I did before reading it. The book mainly just gave me an even more negative impression of Wall Street's shadiness than I already had before I read it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this also viewed


 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.

Your Recently Viewed Items and Featured Recommendations 
 

After viewing product detail pages, look here to find an easy way to navigate back to pages you are interested in.