Customer Review

31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gets better as it goes along, April 9, 2012
This review is from: Backstage Wall Street: An Insider’s Guide to Knowing Who to Trust, Who to Run From, and How to Maximize Your Investments (Hardcover)
I'm sorry, but I didn't know who Josh Brown was before I was given a copy of this book to review, so I wasn't familiar with what he was all about. That is to say, I'd never read his popular blog (still haven't, even) and didn't know what to expect from this book. As I started reading and well towards the middle of the book, I kept telling myself this could only be a two star book. This guy's just telling a bunch stories from the trenches of Wall Street while not imparting any real, valuable information. He's certainly not providing anything to become a better investor. What gives? And it was about at the halfway point that he comes out and tells us: this isn't a book about investing.

When that was made clear, I was able to read the book objectively without wondering what it was going to do for me, and that made it a whole lot better. I began to appreciate Brown's insight into some of the inner workings of the "investment game" (my words) and how other people make money off of my money. I began to understand a lot of esoteric concepts related to fairly common things, such as IRA's, ETF's, 12b-1 fees, and so forth. Brown's experience and candor may not help you invest better, but what he has to say may still make you a better investor. How? By making you ask some questions - possibly of your broker, definitely of yourself - that will help you to have better investment judgment. It was certainly eye-opening seeing the world of stocks from a salesman/broker/sweat shop point of view, and the reading was, though not engrossing, at least enjoyable.

My two complaints about this book are minor. The first is that because Brown is a blogger, his writing for this book sounds a lot like a blog. That is, it is a bit disjointed and lacks a good flow and structure from chapter to chapter. He's at his best when he's writing jab-like sentences to make a short, right-to-the-heart-of-the-matter point, in other words, he's effective when he writes like a blogger. When he writes like a Wall Street insider telling a story, his prose breaks down a bit. Then again, maybe I expect too much from paper and ink and my perception was off. (Call it a feeling, in that case.) My other complaint is even more minor, and that is, in relating beefy, realistic Wall Street conversations and anecdotes, he likes to use asterisks instead of spelling "bad" words. We're all adults here. We know all the bad words there are to know. Nobody's protected by putting an asterisk between an `s', an `h', and a `t' in this type of book, so just write the words and don't apologize for them. (I wonder if the editor had anything to do with this?)

At various other points in reading this book, I felt it was a two, three, or four star work. I had just about decided it had earned four stars, when the book closes with a bit of a gratuitous section of famous Wall Street insiders echoing Mr. Brown's points and expressing their similar views to his, sort of lending an artificial scaffold of ideological support for his effort. That bumped it down to just above average, and into the three star range. Still a good book, and quite different from other books on Wall Street, it will appeal to anyone with even a passing interest in investing.
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Location: Madison, AL, US

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