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The Go-Go Years: The Drama and Crashing Finale of Wall Street's Bullish 60s

3.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0471357551
ISBN-10: 0471357553
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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"The Go-Go Years is not to be read in the usual manner of Wall Street classics. You do not read this book to see our present situation reenacted in the past, with only the names changed. You read it because it is a wonderful description of the way things were in a different time and place."
From the Foreword by Michael Lewis

The 1960s bull market was a wild time of unbridled growth and stellar performance. It remains a pivotal era in American financial history, a time of corporate gunslingers, mutual funds, new-issue stocks, Chinese money, and the conglomerates. But it is also a cautionary tale of Wall Street for today's investor, chronicling the personalities, markets, events, and trends that drove stocks up throughout the 1960s and made millionaires of many—until the inevitable crashes in the 1970s.

Considered a classic among finance classics, The Go-Go Years is the harrowing and humorous story of the "go-go" growth stocks of the 1960s. Their meteoric rise caused a multitude of small investors to thrive for nearly a decade. John Brooks’s award-winning and inimitable style brings to life the people, places, and extraordinary circumstances that changed the course of the stock market forever. It was a time when greed drove the market and fast money was being made and lost in the surge and plunge of growth and performance stocks. Included are the dramatic stories of such high-profile personalities as H. Ross Perot who lost $450 million in one day, Saul Steinberg’s grandiose attempt to take over Chemical Bank, and the self-destructive fall of America’s "Last Gatsby," Eddie Gilbert.

Yale Law Journal said of him that "John Brooks...may well be the best historian of high and low finance since...Charles Francis Adams and his brother Henry chronicled the rascalities of Jim Fisk, Jay Gould, Daniel Drew, and Cornelius Vanderbilt more than a century ago."

From the Back Cover

Praise for The Go-Go Years

"Those for whom the stock market is mostly a spectator sport will relish the book's verve, color, and memorable one-liners."
New York Review of Books

"Please don't take The Go-Go Years too much for granted: as effortlessly as it seems to fly, it is nonetheless an unusually complex and thoughtful work of social history."
New York Times

"Brooks's great contribution is his synthesis of all the elements that made the 1960s the most volatile in Wall Street history . . . and making so much material easily digestible for the uninitiated."
Publishers Weekly

"Brooks . . . is about the only writer around who combines a thorough knowledge of finance with the ability to perceive behind the dance of numbers 'high, pure, moral melodrama on the themes of possession, domination, and belonging.'"


Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley (September 21, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471357553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471357551
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #207,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Wiley Investment Classics typically fall into two categories, fascinating troves of banking wisdom that are well-written and insightful, and painful diatribes that while full of good intention are best put on the shelf for display. "The Go-Go Years" is definitely the former - this is an incredibly well written book about what has really become one of the forgotten times in American financial history. While the booom of the 1920's and resulting crash, as well as the excess of the 1980's are frequent subjects of many financial authors, Brooks has picked a relatively infrequently discussed portion of our financial history, the booming 1960's and the resulting crash of the early 1970's.
There are many outstanding sections of the book; the introduction to Ross Perot in the first chapter, the history of Gerald Tsai and Fidelity, the rise and fall of the conglomerates, the description of the back-office and its staff, and finally the description of Wall Street that begins Chapter 5, which is without question the best description of the area ever written. These few pages (104 - 111) are simply an outstanding piece of prose.
There are just too many good things about this book to fit into a 1,000 word review. Too many of the lessons from only 40 years ago are maddeningly similar to the lessons many dot-com and IPO investors are learning now, and the structure and actions of many Wall Street establishments are all too easily explained with this simple peace of previously "missing" history. If you are up to date on the current view of the 1929 collapse, and the bull market of the 1980's, then this is the book that goes a long way towards filling out the major events that shaped the markets in the interim.
Go read this book.
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Format: Paperback
"The Go-Go Years" is a largely a collection of New Yorker magazine articles (and some pieces written especially for the book) by John Brooks, who in it covers a crucial period in the history of Wall Street, the 1960s, which includes the rise of conglomerates, mutual funds, and hedge funds, i.e. players at the heart of our economic situation today. Reading this book is instructive for that alone.

But the book is far more than a prescient account of today's market forces. It's a vivid rogues gallery of people who rode the tides of fortune, had their days at the crest of their profession, and then fell back. Some, like stockpicker extraordinaire Gerald Tsai, the first Asian to rise to NYSE prominence, were undone by fortune and circumstance. Other less savory characters had only themselves to blame.

There's an early look at Ross Perot, described vividly at the book's outset as losing a half-billion in a single day (April 22, 1970) and more or less shrugging it off. Perot's priorities were solid and he knew what he was about. Not so Eddie Gilbert, "The Last Gatsby" as Brooks calls him, who parlays small victories into outrageous defeats, dragging along a coterie of privileged friends into more and more nefarious investment schemes. Brooks sees Gilbert's get-rich-quick attitude as too emblematic of Wall Street in the 1960s, and his narrative never tires of pointing these out.

Brooks' elegant prose has a way of leaping out at you without disrupting the narrative flow. About the trend for all investment strategy to come unglued: "The dumb money could take bitter comfort in the company it had among the smartest of the smart money - or former money." On Tsai: "...
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Format: Paperback
This book begins and ends with a rather peculiar hero from Texas, H. Ross Perot, who during the smashing sixties built up a phenomenal growth company, watched a phenomenal sum of equity wealth evaporate before his eyes in a single day, and later played the role of the white knight saving a rather fickle (and foolish) damsel in distress- Wall Street's Patrician securities industry. All in all, the book took a very high-brow snapshot of one brief but heady period of financial history orchestrated and overseen by very low-brow types masquerading as new wealth Gatsbys, high performance quants, hot-hand gunslingers, and (anything but) 'Proper' Bostonian businessmen. It is an odd mix relayed to us in the droll but refined and witty style of the late Mr. Brooks.

They say that history repeats itself, and this book is Exhibit A. All of the ills of today can be found within its pages chronicling yesterday- corporate hucksters and frauds, technology stock enthusiasts, drugs (hard and soft, legal and illegal) on The Street, hot-today-but-gone-tomorrow fund pros, and a whole host of other ills. Change the names, dates and places and one would think that one is reading today's news.

My favorite part of the book is the old refrain that all whistleblowers inevitably hear, and occurs on page 45 of the second chapter entitled 'Fair Exchange' (again, now as well as then, anything but). The regulator asks our erstwhile whistleblowing hero, "Now what do you know about what's going on upstairs?" Thoughts of Enron and MCI, Tyco and the FBI spring readily to mind...

While Peter Lynch lures the gullible investor with the notion that the novice has an advantage over the professional, Mr.
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