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Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle Hardcover – April, 2000

4.2 out of 5 stars 309 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

As eager-beaver business school students, Rolfe and Troob garnered job offers as junior associates at the elite Wall Street investment bank Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, lured by dreams of wealth, glamour and power. Readers whose fascination with Wall Street shenanigans has been fueled by Michael Lewis's Liar's Poker will find this thorough rundown of an investment bank associate's daily routine sobering. By the time Rolfe and Troob were able to discern the key fact that the "investment banking community has long been an oligopoly, with only a handful of real players with the size and scale to drive through the big deals," they were already grappling with the gritty reality of performing grunt labor in an environment ruled by despotic senior partners who called innumerable meetings to set unrealistic deadlines and make superhuman demands on anybody within screaming distance. The authors' resulting disappointment and disaffection leaps off every page. Unfortunately, they take out their frustrations with indiscriminate potshots at such easy targets as word processors ("Christopher Street fairies"), copy center personnel ("a platoon of patriotic Puerto Ricans" they offhandedly refer to as "militants") and female research analysts (whom they describe as "under-sexed, eager-to-please"). Long before the hapless authors have stooped to expressing their fury at the bank by such puerile antics as urinating into a beer bottle while seated at a banquet table at the Christmas party, readers will have had enough. (Apr.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Time was when you took a job that you realized was not for you, you made the best of it and moved on. Now, though, you get your bitter revenge by writing a book trashing your former employer and coworkers. Rolfe and Troob worked as associates at investment banking powerhouse Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette. It's hard to sympathize with the pair. Their first full-year compensation was about eight times what average college graduates earn at their first job, and they traveled by private jet, stayed in the best hotels, and ate in the best restaurants. On the other hand, they put in 20-hour days, suffered the abuse of "rabid, power-mad bosses," and lacked meaningful personal lives. Relying heavily on "frat-house" humor, they tell the tale of their brief careers. Rolfe and Troob do provide some insight into what investment bankers do, and their story may serve as a warning to others considering entering the field. But if, as they claim, business school graduates are clamoring for such jobs, this warning will fall on deaf ears. David Rouse
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Warner Books; First Printing edition (April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446525561
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446525565
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (309 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #587,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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 twentysomethings job in the business world that is even close to the difficulty of two years in banking. Unless you have worked 70-hour nonstop stretches under extreme pressure (think about it: working more in one sleepless stretch than most people do in a week), you cannot possibly understand what it means.
I've made my escape, like these two clowns and I'm glad of it, b/c I too realize that I was just a damned trained ape. Dress an ape up in a nice suit and put him in a fast car, he's still an ape. Most associates realize at some point that they'll never make MD. It's the bait that's dangled in front of you, but it is just like the top law firms. Up and out. If you don't have the rainmaking ability, you're outta there and no one will be missing you.
However, there were some troubling parts of this book from a non-banking view. If it bothers you, note that these guys are mildly racist and classist. The comments about homosexuals, Latinos, Asians, and the poor are somewhere on the maturity level of a sixteen-year-old snot punk at Andover, but then again, you can take this as another dose of Wall Street Reality; don't expect bigtime enlightenment from these wallstreet knuckledraggers.
All in all, it's worth a read.
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Format: Hardcover
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 like your humor male, bold and brassy, this book will be one of the funniest you will ever read.
As someone who often works with investment bankers, the descriptions about how business is sold and delivered should be tempered a bit. This book describes pretty much every investment banker as shoddy, shallow, and manipulative. That has not been my typical experience. There are terrifically smart, talented, ethical and humane investment bankers. For example, one of my favorites never used a pitch book during his first meeting with a client. Pitch book preparation is one of the banes of the young investment banker's existence. But like all professions, investment bankers vary a lot. There are certainly some less capable ones, and I have seen their work too. I would describe it much like the authors do.
In terms of the working conditions, they are mostly a reflection of weak management in the industry. Investment banks reward doing deals, not being good managers of the deals. A fellow I know became CEO of a major investment bank, and made much less money after that than when he was just a deal-maker. He found little interest on the part of his colleagues in improving management, so it was pretty frustrating. It just doesn't pay to work on making life better for the investment bankers in training, compared to producing more business.
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Format: Paperback
First, a confession. Another reviewer posted a scathing review of this book and said it was so bad he would send it for free to anyone who wanted it. I took him up on his offer and promised to write a similar review if I felt the same way. The problem is... I really liked this book!
I wanted to read Monkey Business as I used to consider investment banking as a career and wondered if the tremendous investment of time and money was worth it. The answer, according to authors Rolfe and Troob, is a resounding "NO." You will probably make a lot of money once you do get in. But ultimately it's not worth it, not by a long shot.
Written during the height of dot-com mania, the authors pull no punches in proceeding to lambaste almost every aspect of the house of money formerly known as Donaldson, Lufkin, and Jenrette, as well as the entire investment banking industry. It's an episode of "Behind the Music - Wall Street", that strips away the Hollywood notion of the wealthy, jet-setting investment banker and exposes the underbelly of tedious boredom, bureaucracy, posturing, and incompetence that make up this awful work environment. The book is so strong in its criticisms that I'm surprised Rolfe and Troob weren't sued for libel. Given all the Wall Street scandals making the headlines lately, they'd probably get their money back.
Colorful language is an understatement. By the end of the book, the guys are doing calculations to determine the "expected value" of attempting to bed a banking assistant at the holiday party versus the "present value" of a sure thing at the local strip club. The chauvanism, vulgarity, racism and anecdotes comparing co-workers and bosses to everything from dung beetles to excrement might lead you to believe they're exaggerating just to trash their former employer.
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