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Reminiscences of a Stock Operator Paperback – May 11, 1994
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Palgrave Marketing & Management
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Stock investing is a relatively recent phenomenon and the inventory of true classics is somewhat slim. When asked, people in the know will always list books by Benjamin Graham, Burton G. Malkiel's A Random Walk Down Wall Street, and Common Stocks and Uncommon Profits and Other Writings by Philip A. Fisher. You'll know you're getting really good advice if they also mention Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre.
Reminiscences of a Stock Operator is the thinly disguised biography of Jesse Livermore, a remarkable character who first started speculating in New England bucket shops at the turn of the century. Livermore, who was banned from these shady operations because of his winning ways, soon moved to Wall Street where he made and lost his fortune several times over. What makes this book so valuable are the observations that Lefèvre records about investing, speculating, and the nature of the market itself. For example:
"It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It always was my sitting. Got that? My sitting tight! It is no trick at all to be right on the market. You always find lots of early bulls in bull markets and early bears in bear markets. I've known many men who were right at exactly the right time, and began buying or selling stocks when prices were at the very level which should show the greatest profit. And their experience invariably matched mine--that is, they made no real money out of it. Men who can both be right and sit tight are uncommon."
If you've ever spent weekends and nights puzzling over whether to buy, sell, or hold a position in whatever investment--be it stock, bonds, or pork bellies, you'll be glad that you read this book. Reminiscences of a Stock Operator is full of lessons that are as relevant today as they were in 1923 when the book was first published. Highly recommended. --Harry C. Edwards
“…whilst stock market tomes have come and gone this remains popular and in print 80 years on…” (GQ Magazine November 2003)
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Despite being written in the early 1920's, Reminiscences of a Stock Operator continues to be the most useful and most-loved book ever written on the subject of trading and speculation. In this novel, LeFevre brilliantly describes the life and times of the book's protagonist, Larry Livingston, a pseudonym for Jesse Livermore, one of history's most famous traders.
Livingston never considered himself an investor; he was a speculator. He didn't mind being long or short, he just wanted to be correct. His approach was to figure out what the path of least resistance was and then go with the flow. He didn't believe in picking tops or bottoms; he waited for a trend to be confirmed and then jumped in, thus never fighting the tape. Livingston never traded out of boredom or solely for the sake of the excitement it brought to him. He knew that he could get rich by following a defined trend and thus calmly waited on the sidelines when the market was directionless. Had Livingston been alive today he would certainly be a momentum/price action based trader.
Although a sizeable portion of the book vividly describes the highs and lows of Livingston's exciting life, the meat of the book comes in the form of trading commandments that every successful trader can likely repeat even while asleep. These are the trading rules that have been passed down from mothers to daughters, fathers to sons, mentors to students, winners to losers. This is the book from which almost every subsequent general trading book is derived. If you have ever wondered where the trading rule "Never average down" came from, just turn to page 154. Where did the comparison between greed and fear first originate? You'll find it on page 130. Some other rules to live by that were introduced in LeFevre's book are:
-The trend is your friend.
-History repeats itself.
-No stock is too high to buy or too low to sell.
-Let your winners run and cut your losses quickly.
For beginners, this book will give you a strong and sturdy foundation on which you can build your successful trading career. It will fill your absorbent trading mind with vitally important trading principles in a clear and understandable manner. For experienced traders, reading this book again will galvanize your mind and refresh your spirit for trading. It brings clarity as to why we trade and how to best go about it. This is a must read for beginners and a must re-read for all others.
The fictionalized biography of Jesse Livermore, one of the greatest stock market speculators, it contains perceptive trading advice and insightful analyses of market price movements.
"I learned early that there is nothing new in Wall Street," states the book's protagonist, Larry Livingstone. "There can't be because speculation is as old as the hills. Whatever happens in the stock market today has happened before and will happen again."
During the 1970's when this book was out of print, my friends and I would scrounge used bookshops in searching of copies of this gem. The reason: its pages contain precious pearls of wisdom with which experienced traders can identify, from which new traders can learn. Thankfully, this generation of traders will not have to go to the lengths mine did to access this wisdom.
"I did precisely the wrong thing," Livingstone notes. "The cotton showed me a loss and I kept it. The wheat showed me a profit and I sold it out. Of all the speculative blunders there are few greater than trying to average a losing game. Always sell what shows you a loss and keep what shows you a profit."
Livermore made and lost millions playing the stock and commodity markets. LeFevre, a journalist captures many of his timeless lessons in this book, which first appeared as a series in The Saturday Evening Post. There is, however, one Wall Street Pearl that did not make the book - "a speculator who dies rich, is a speculator who dies before his time." Livermore committed suicide in a bathroom of the Pierre Hotel and died a penniless man.