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Showing 1-10 of 44 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 142 reviews
on December 26, 2016
It was definitely an interesting read. If you wanna fantasize about this life, the book will definitely do the trick. But it hasn't much to offer beyond that. Not particularly perceptive and doesn't quite live up to the suspense it builds throughout the text. The main character isn't as loveable as he's supposed to be because of his basic, superman-like, unrealistic personality. He's the carbon copy hero and that's boring
Also a side note, it's clear he didn't do his research on Princeton. No one ever refers to "the school newspaper" or says any eating club by its full name
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on July 20, 2007
This book had a very similar tone to the "Breaking Vegas" book, which is not unexpected given that the books were written by the same author-- however, too much stylistic overlap is still too much.

On the good side:

1. The writing was fast, light, and easy to follow. Not needing of too much concentration, and something that can be picked right up and settled into.
2. There was some explanation about the concept of arbitrage.
3. There was interesting insight into the sex-for-sale culture of Japan. This alone could have spun off and made a whole new book.

On the bad side:

1. The explanation of the nuts and bolts of trading was too thin. It might have only taken one extra chapter to give us the details that many of us who bought the book were looking for.
2. I wonder how much the author *really* knew, given that he used the word "farang" to describe foreigners-- even though that word is 100% Thai. Was he throwing in technical terms to make it *look* like he had done his homework? And if he made that mistake, how many others did he make that we might not have recognized?
3. It might also have been interesting to get a better idea of just how much the Japanese government and Yakuza were in bed together. Is this really the case? Or is this poetic license? There were more than a few topics in this book that just weren't covered as much as a reader might have liked-- though I can appreciate that this is done for the sake of brevity. (An extra bit here and an extra bit there, and the next thing you know you have a book that is as overwrought with detail and most of what Ayn Rand has written.)
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on April 27, 2017
I have a few of Ben mezrich books and love the complex stories. This one blew my mind. Strong recommend.
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on May 3, 2017
A couple chapters in I put it down. Don't know where it is now... and don't care...
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on November 19, 2015
I am biased because I really like this author's other works The reason why I enjoy his other works is that they bring you into a world that you may not necessarily see in your everyday happenings. The book brings you into a world where high earning individuals ade both young and reckless. It captures a snapshot in time where eastern markets were exploited for the benefits of the few and it really highlights how fast money influences activities in a world where Westerners are far away from home.
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on July 23, 2017
Almost 75% of the book passed before the real business transaction was described. Also, the author never really describes how the exchange-based arbitrage works.
I live in Japan, and the foreignness is overwrought. Yes, it is different. No, it is not like Mezrich describes.
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on August 15, 2004
Ugly Americans represents itself as the true story of expatriate, ivy league, hedge-fund traders making their fortunes in the Hong Kong and Tokyo financial markets. Just don't hold your breath for anything revelatory. And don't expect much in the way of specifics about the Asian markets. Anyone with a GED will be able to follow what these college grads are doing. What you will get is a fast moving story with a lot of atmosphere for the sweaty underside of Asian culture.

Simply said, don't fret too much about the supposed veracity of the story, but simply take Ugly Americans for what it is: Beach fare, a quick unchallenging 'read' with familiar fictional cliches. Our hero is an ambitious young innocent from humble origins in an alien world of corruption, money, sex, love, mystery, and violence. Will he arbitrage a cultural divide to escape with his love, money, and character intact?

If there is a real problem in all this it is that the story is a decade too late. The financial markets and their Masters of the Universe have lost considerable luster in a post bubble era of deflated expectations, heightened regulatory scrutiny, and terrorist violence. But if you enjoyed Liar's Poker, Rogue Trader, Born to Steal, Boiler Room (movie), or possibly The Firm, you'll find this a harmless diversion.
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on July 14, 2017
I couldn't stop turning the page. When the book ended, a part of me ended.
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on November 19, 2009
I've worked in investment banking, specifically as a trader, for 14 years. I spent 9 of those years as an expat in Tokyo. And this book, in addition to not being very good, is at least 90% fabricated.
It disappoints on many levels.
1. The details are almost all wrong, and in many cases obviously made up or guessed.
e.g.: The Hanshin Earthquake did not hit Osaka as hard as the author describes, most of the damage was in Kobe, and it did not last "five minutes" but only about 20 seconds.
2. The author did not do enough research. His knowledge of Asia, finance, the Japanese sex trade, the yakuza, and even basic math is cursory at best, and in a few cases frighteningly ignorant.
e.g.: in an interview the protagonist is asked how many oranges are consumed in America in a year. his gutshot guess is 433 million...then he goes on to describe his analysis: a population of 250 million, if 80% of them start their day with a glass of juice and you need 3 oranges to make a glass...then his guess is plain stupid! based on his logic the answer should be more like 600 million EACH DAY, not 433 million in a whole year!
e.g.: he writes "simple equities such as stocks and bonds" Bonds are not equities.
e.g.: he writes "commodities such as the yen" the Yen is a currency, not a commodity.
3. The characters are shallow, cliched stereotypes. His protagonist has no character flaws whatsoever, and is "disgusted" by cheap and tawdry sex. Carney is a reptilian predator. Sayo is a delicate flower whose eyes moisten with every plot twist. All his charcaters have the depth of Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters!
4. The book is poorly edited throughout and poorly written. Chapter 22, his description of Hong Kong is three paragraphs which are basically just three copies of the same description worded differently.
Just terrible.
The most damning thing I can say is that this book reminded me very much of James Frey's "A Million Little Pieces" which was one of the worst books I've ever read.
Dont waste your money.
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on March 9, 2009
I didn't get this book to learn the details of stocks, hedge funds, or derivatives trading in Japan. I was looking to be entertained and the Audible version of this book, albeit abridged, really made this story come alive. I have far too many "books on tape" on my iPod and can safely say this is one of my all time faves. Perhaps it helps that I spent time in Japan (in the music industry) during this time period so I could easily follow the ins and outs of the plot but for those who have dissed the book, I can't imagine what they were looking for in this read. At the end of the day, a very entertaining listen which is why I am back to buy the unabridged version, in hard copy no less....
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