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The Shipping Man Paperback – June 8, 2011
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"The fictional Robert Fairchild is one of the hottest names on Wall Street. He's the hero of the 2011 novel The Shipping Man, a New York hedge fund manager who becomes so captivated by wild swings in freight rates that he buys a dry-cargo carrier and sets off on an adventure leading to run-ins with Somali pirates and Greek tycoons." - Bloomberg
"The Shipping Man is a novel by Matthew McCleery is about the dramatic world of shipowners and finance...Set at the intersection of finance and the high seas...it's simply a great read." - gCaptain, Contributor, Forbes.
"The Shipping Man brought home the game of shipping in spades. I am still laughing about the picture McCleery has painted as it matches a lot of my own experiences. I am 72 and seen a lot of games, too." - Seymour Schulich, O.C.
"I resembled Robert Fairchild during my New York incarnation. The book is just phenomenal and had me splitting my sides at various points. I've already ordered copies for all my shipping friends." Guy Spier, Managing Partner, Aquamarine Capital Management
"It is very hard to marry entertainment with education - especially in the world of finance and shipping, but McCleery succeeds spectacularly in doing so." - Mohnish Pabrai, Managing Partner, Pabrai Investment Funds
From the Author
"A billionaire even read it and said he identified so much with Robert Fairchild that he hired me to sell his dry cargo ships. When people ask if there's money in publishing, I think of that deal and smile."
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The story and the main characters themselves are quite enjoyable, with some clever twists along the way, and a good conclusion of the plot.
The style is mildly satirical, and generally lighthearted, which certainly helps the book.
All in all as someone who works in shipping (on the technical side) I definitely enjoyed it. It should be said though, that this isn't in any way "epic prose" but a low-key little work that tries to be both informative and entertaining, and succeeds in both.
Firstly, it is extremely poorly written. From the childish dialogues and the plot to the names of the characters and mistakes. The are so many instances that make no sense, as if the author never bothered to do a reality check (like a small hedge fund manager investing $100 million in a single bond).
Secondly, it is trying to shed some knowledge on both the shipping and finance industries in a very plain, amateurish way, through dialogues that seem totally out of place. The author wanted to say something about shipping, so it would simply have an actor make a speech about it even though it was out of context or simply absurd (you have to read the book to understand that). If the author wanted to teach a few things to readers, then one page would suffice, rather a whole book with bad, "fake" dialogues.
Lastly, his depiction of the finance industry is way off. He seems to want to portray a "barbarians at the gate" picture, but as an outsider to the industry, and obviously due to poor research, he just ends up recycling stereotypes. Even worse, this book has factual mistakes. To the author: There is no such thing as EBITDA to interest coverage. There is interest coverage, defined as EBITDA to interest expense, but the ratio mentioned in the book does not exist.