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on July 12, 2010
I highly recommend this book--it is a fun read, and you'll learn a lot too about the nexus of entrepreneurialism and Wall Street. And, if you don't like non-fiction, just read it as if it is a is that well-written and easy to read! Randall Lane has done a marvelous job of capturing the phenomenon of financial and business bubbles, not only on Wall Street but in entrepreneurialism as well. The Zeroes is a thriller of a book, it reads like a novel, its story--though true--feels like fiction, with well-drawn characters, extreme in personality, risk-taking aggressiveness and ambition. Anyone who has or hopes to start a business - selling your business idea, attracting trustable partners, enticing paying customers, finding reliable and continuous funding--will find Lane's tale an excellent and easily-read primer on how to do so, and how difficult, disruptive and crazy it can be. What Lane does so well is to tie together Wall Street's latest over-investment bubble (ie, over-investing in real estate via packages of securitized mortgages) with the celebritized magazine business that he was attempting to build on the coattails of the Wall Street high-rollers and high-spenders who created--and benefitted from--that bubble. Highly recommended!
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on July 7, 2010
I bought this book yesterday afternoon and spent the entire night until 4 am reading it. This book manages to put the entire horrific decade in perspective. It is a really great read by a journalist/publisher who was in the middle of it all, but not rich himself. But he got caught up in the greed, and the desire to make a fortune and was destroyed financially along with so many of us. And he admits it. But man can Lane write. It's like being a fly on the wall in the homes of financial wizards, movie stars, athletes and artists. I was appalled but fascinated. And disgusted that it keeps going even after the decade of the Zeroes. Maybe there's a morality tale to be learned.
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on July 2, 2010
The Zeroes has an incredible number of anecdotes and stories of people in and out of the financial world. John Travolta, Al Gore, John McCain, Diana Ross, Peter Max for starters. Usually a book of this scope is not well written, but Lane is an exceptionally colorful writer. I couldn't put the book down!
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VINE VOICEon December 25, 2010
Just an exceptional, professionally written book! This is a take on the recession from the person in a unique position to observe the investment bankers who he believes were the primary cause. Yes, I say this as 25 year investment banker. The author runs magazines specializing in selecting the Top Traders in the world and later Top Dealmakers. The book also covers his foray into Private Air of which I had read a few times. Of course with clients like this, sellers of luxury items were his biggest advertisers. Quite a few opulent parties are described where it becomes clear that he has hit an exceptional idea but the question is whether he can build the volume quickly enough to achieve an 8 figure valuation or whether the negative cash flow will eventually kill the business.

And this is really the secret of the book. As he describes his struggle to keep the company afloat and take on more leverage just as his subjects have taken on massive debt, the outcome becomes the same in the massive recession. But it isn't just companies that go out of business. The overtly confident/cocky traders are also overleveraged with many suffering humiliating fates due to their high spending habits.

Names are named and unique stories are told. Of interest is the famous artist who agrees to paint the top traders and hopefully sell the painting to them for $140,000. It quickly becomes clear that these gentlemen are either cheap or true to their "trader" title, feel they must always negotiate a lower price. Pure comedy!

I must also comment on the diversity of reviews. Since so many people were hurt in this company there are quite a few with comments on what a terrible person the author is and how his story is self serving. I actually felt the mixture of humility and vanity the author experiences were well balanced. Maybe he is a narcissistic @ss and a terrible manager. All I care about his he wrote an interesting book from a perfect perspective that I enjoyed immensely.
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on July 4, 2010
As the title says, highly entertaining -- on the other hand, I worked at Doubledown for its entire existence, so I'm biased. Then again, everyone's biased about Randall Lane these days, in one direction or another. I started the book not knowing what to expect; I stayed up late for a week to finish it. It's extremely readable, often quite funny and very illuminating both about the perils of running a small business you're rapidly trying to make bigger and about a extremely peculiar period in the financial history of the U.S. Take my sentiments with the requisite skepticism. But if you want an insightful potted history of a very bizarre economic decade whose excesses we will be dealing with for a long, long time, "The Zeroes" would not be a bad place to start. Doubledown Media as metaphor for Wall Street idiocy in the 2000s: Hey, I was there. Works for me.
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on May 28, 2011
Not sure what to expect when I popped this in the CD changer, but my interest was piqued almost immediately. So very much has been written about the causes of the economic meltdown (some very badly), that I was a little concerned that this might be just another rehash. I was wrong.

I'm a financial person, so I felt a special curiosity, but anyone who has lately held a dollar in his hand and watched it kind of melt into small change will want to read this accounting of the years between 2000 and 2010 in the world of finance. And a bit of a scary world it is. Several times I found myself replaying a section because I really thought I'd been on top of all this when it was happening, only to hear that there were so many more levels that I wasn't aware of that I was a mere tyro. I had to listen again to make sure I heard it right. Randall Lane had an insider's view of the incredible tangle on Wall Street that left huge chunks of the population here and around the world wondering what the hell happened.

The book is eminently readable (or listenable, if, like me, you're an audiobook addict). Lane is a gifted wordsmith. It's one of those books that had me pulling into parking lots to sit and listen more closely to one chapter or another. If it's possible to call a finance tell-all "rollicking", then this one is just that. Just as reality did, the author just slides seamlessly from one epic piece of bad judgment on the parts of his fellow Wall Streeters and doesn't leave himself out of the cross-hairs.

If you have any interest in a comprehensible summary of what happened to your retirement fund, you're going to want this book.
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on July 15, 2010
I have worked on Wall Street and in Publishing so I have crossed many a path with Randall as well as the players in the book. This is a highly enjoyable and very accurate read. If you want a glimpse into the silliness of Wall street and the challenges of publishing, then there is no better book.
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on July 1, 2010
This book is a very interesting and well written view of the culture of greed and exorbitance on Wall Street over the past decade as seen through the eyes of someone who lived in and wrote about it. Lane experienced what he calls the insanity on a daily basis as he built his magazine publishing business catering to the excessive spending behaviors and grandiosity of those on Wall Street during the decade. There are explanations of much of what happened to the economy and why it happened. He writes about how he was also caught up in the fever and how it led to bankruptcy of his company and personal financial losses for himself, his employees and partners. Some of the decade's excesses are well known but this writer adds unique insights. Lane's portrayal of and colorful stories about many public personalities, including athletes, financial kingpins and politicians adds to its appeal. A fun read as well as a cautionary tale, this book has something for everyone from Wall Street to Main Street!
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on July 28, 2010
I expected a sort of tell all rant of a book but instead I got a very well written and honest chronicle of the life and death of a idea. Lane writes so well and so fluid that you find yourself drawn in from the very beginning. The chapters on Lenny Dykstra and Peter Max are laugh out loud funny and changes the way you will look at those jerks in the future.
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on November 24, 2014
A masterpiece. Randall Lane's book is an entertaining jostle through the decade that we're still trying to understand. The book is a chron log of type A ambitions and misadventures during the accumulation-crazy Zeroes. It's a toboggan ride from the eyes of a motivated, young, magazine entrepreneur. He's well connected and fearless, rolling with Wall Street types while trying desperately to build a micro empire by stroking rich people. But he's also one of us; worn clothes, low on cash, angst. The name dropping is ceaseless, but a solid part of the intrigue. Highly readable and extremely well written; Mr. Lane writes as well or better than Michael Lewis. There, I said it.
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