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A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism Paperback – April 12, 2011

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product Description
On his first assignment for a rapacious hedge fund, Gabriel embarks to Bolivia at the end of 2005 to ferret out insider information about the plans of the controversial president-elect. If Gabriel succeeds, he will get a bonus that would make him secure for life. Standing in his way are his headstrong mother, herself a survivor of Pinochet's Chile, and Gabriel's new love interest, the president's passionate press liaison. Caught in a growing web of lies and questioning his own role in profiting from an impoverished people, Gabriel sets in motion a terrifying plan that could cost him the love of all those he holds dear.

In the tradition of Martin Amis, Joshua Ferris, and Sam Lipsyte—set against the stunning mountainous backdrop of La Paz and interspersed with Bolivia's sad history of stubborn survival—Peter Mountford examines the critical choices a young man makes as his world closes in on him.

Amazon Exclusive: Garth Stein Reviews A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism

Garth Stein is the author of The Art of Racing in the Rain, Raven Stole the Moon, and How Evan Broke His Head and Other Secrets.

Peter Mountford’s striking debut novel, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism, is a smart and entertaining book. Set near the peak of the financial bubble in 2005, the book charts the story of a young financial journalist, Gabriel de Boya, recently hired as an analyst for a notoriously unscrupulous hedge fund. Gabriel’s first mission is a test of his abilities: go to Bolivia and find a way to profit from the Bolivian presidential election. In Gabriel, Mountford creates a complex, charismatic, and engaging character, a chameleon who works himself into increasingly precarious positions as his mission is both facilitated and complicated by his love affair with the Bolivian president-elect’s press liaison.

In Mountford's novel, the stakes of international finance and the personal lives of those involved intersect in a beautifully drawn Bolivia. A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism accomplishes that rare trick of being a book of ideas and politics while remaining, at its core, a profoundly intimate, character-driven story and a tremendously good read.

I highly recommend this captivating debut novel by a remarkably promising young writer.

A Note from the Author

In 1983, when I was seven, my family moved from a quiet neighborhood in Washington, D.C., to Sri Lanka. Two weeks after we arrived in Colombo, the country was consumed by a bloody month of ethnic strife—what became known as Black July. That strife turned into a nearly thirty-year-long civil war. Then, in my early twenties, I spent two years in Ecuador writing about the country’s ailing economy. Ecuador was embroiled in a rapid succession of revolutions and spectacular economic catastrophes at the time, and I saw a similar irrepressible current of culture and beauty running beneath these disasters. Also, I saw how inextricably wed finance is to history, and to the lives of everyday people.

In sharp contrast to those experiences, I also spent part of my childhood in a wooded suburb Washington, D.C., where incidents in the personal and professional lives of my friends’ parents often ended up in the headlines of newspapers.

It was through experiencing these kinds of stark contrasts—between power and powerlessness, wealth and poverty—that I was inspired to write A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism. The book dramatizes my time living and working in South America. Economics is often thought of as a dry subject (the so-called "dismal science"), but it has always seemed utterly dramatic to me, and in this book I’ve tried to reveal how exciting and funny and engaging this material can be.

--Peter Mountford


"The Bolivian setting is colorful and engaging, as are the financial maneuverings."
-Publishers Weekly

"[T]he novel holds the reader's interest to the end... [Mountford's] affectionate portrayal of Bolivia is probably the book's strongest point."
-Library Journal

"This is a solid read that is both adventurous and thought-provoking on the themes of racial identity, South Americans, politics, and wealth."

 “A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism is, quite simply, one of the most compelling and thought-provoking novels I’ve read in years. It’s extraordinarily vivid, populated by characters whose fates I cared about desperately, beautifully written, timely beyond measure, but above all it conveys -- with impressive precision and nuance—how we are vectors on the grid of global capital; how difficult it is to even attempt to be an authentic, let alone admirable, human being when we are, first and last, cash flow.”
— David Shields, author of Reality Hunger: A Manifesto 

"A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism is a terrific debut novel—smart, moving, beautifully written. Peter Mountford's parable of the voracious global economy reminded me of Graham Greene's The Quiet American in its clear-eyed depiction of the realpolitik of our age."
— Jess Walters, author of The Financial Lives of the Poets

"A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism is a brilliant debut novel, one that is generous in giving readers an original cast of vividly-drawn and unforgettable characters, learned in its knowledge of the interwoven worlds of finance and politics, sexy, and thoroughly cosmopolitan. Peter Mountford is easily one of the most gifted and skillful young writers, already accomplished, I have had the pleasure of reading in many years."
— Charles Johnson, author of Middle Passage and Dreamer

“In his debut novel, A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism, Peter Mountford has something important to say about the ambiguous moral ground where the personal meets the political. He has experience and sophistication beyond his years and is well-positioned to mine this vein. This novel is worth your time and attention.”
— David Guterson, author of Snow Falling on Cedars

"Peter Mountford, in his amazing debut as a novelist, has updated the gilded myth of Wall Street swashbucklers in expensive suits and spun it out into the world in a hellbent tale, dramatizing the contorted rationalizations practiced by the financial elite to justify their self-delusion. Forget fame, respect, making the world a better place. Transcend the craving for money by acquiring a truckload of it. Buddha as a hedge fund operator, reallocating soullessness throughout the system."
— Bob Shacochis, author of Swimming in the Volcano and The Next New World

"Peter Mountford's A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism is a sharp, funny and terrifying novel— in a world so much like our own (part of the terror: it may, in fact, be our world), Gabriel's actions and the reactions of those around him caused me to wonder, again and again: how do I wish to live in this world, and what latitude might I find?"
— Peter Rock, author of My Abandonment


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 289 pages
  • Publisher: Mariner Books; 1 edition (April 12, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0547473354
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547473352
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #991,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As I read this book, I came to despise the protagonist, the young, uber agressive, lustful (of money and women), ethically challenged Gabriel. The story follows his work during the final months of 2005 in Bolivia conducting clandestine "research" for a hedge fund, usually under the cover of being a freelance jounalist.

I became frustrated with how seemingly easy it was for Gabriel to extract information from lovers, to both of whom he reveals his true purpose in Bolivia. Each of these women, whose detailed career descriptions I'll omit here, only mentioning that they're each in prominent positions relevant to his true cause throughout the novel, are eventually willing to help him. Though I've of course never attempted anything like Gabriel's fictional job in real life, realistic as the role he plays for his hedge fund employer I do believe to be, it seems to me that women of the stature of his two bedfellows would be loathe to provide him with any of the sort of information they do after "dating" him for a few weeks.

This next comment may be trite, but by the end of the book, its title came to annoy me. The fact is there's a lot more to capitalism than the events described therein, and the book is anything but a guide. I suppose it's meant to be satirical, but I just think he could've called it something cooler.

Still, without spoiling the ending for anyone reading this review, its the ending itself that allowed me to give it four stars. I was pleased overall with Gabriel's fate. That and the facts that I very much enjoyed reading it, found it hard to put down, and admired Mountford's writing style throughout the book amount to why I gave it a four star rating. I intend to read future novels by this author.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Peter Mountford's title for the book, "A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism" is an absolutely spot-on description of the story he tells.

The young man is Gabriel, raised alone by a refugee from Pinochet's Chile who is now an ultra liberal professor. Mother and son have a close, sympathetic relationship but (or maybe therefore) Gabriel believes it is necessary to not tell her that he's working for a Hedge fund, the Calloway Group.

Gabriel is fluent in Spanish and comfortable in Latin America from trips there with his mother, as well as a study semester during college. He comes to Bolivia a few weeks before the 2005 election which Evo Morales is expected to win. Gabriel's job is to find any information that would let the Calloway hedge fund "outgun" other funds and thereby attract the greed of millionaire players.

Gabriel meets a young woman, Lenka, who happens to be the press liaison for Morales. They begin an affair; Gabriel feels welcomed when she introduces him to her extended family; they fall in love.

At 25, Gabriel thinks he knows what life is all about. He saw clearly the difference between America and Bolivia. The American dream of fame and fortune was only a fantasy unlike in other countries where children were not told they could achieve anything they wanted.

With a life that has been cushioned by his mother's six figure income, Gabriel does not himself care for "cushiness." He doesn't intend to make money the focus of his life. All he wants is to make enough money to be "done with the issue of money forever."

The future to Gabriel seems filled with possibilities. He can picture himself living in New York or in Bolivia, making do or freed from worry about money.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is probably the best book of the last sixty that I have read in the last two years. The protagist is well drawn and not at all sympathetic with many flaws and a devious nature. You do not know if he is going to do the moralistic thing at the end or betray someone who can be the women of his dreams. The story throws in a man's fear of his mother and thier dishonest relationship and the game theory of choices and decisions too keep things moving along. The writing compares favorably to Irwin Shaw and Jonathan Tropper's two other author's I deeply enjoy. I eagerly await the author's second book but this a excellent book that should not be overlooked.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard about this book because of a story that was carried on NPR, Q and elsewhere about the author helping a Russian translator steal his book and was intrigued. I bought the book because I liked the fact that he didn't view the "theft" in the black and white terms that some would, and figured one good turns deserves another.

I started reading because I wanted to get my money's worth, but continued because the story was compelling, and mysterious. I was somewhat reminded of a Graham Greene storyline, albeit with slightly lower stakes (less murder).

Buy this book for the author's strange gesture of helping a Russian struggling to steal from him, and read it because you won't be able to put it down!
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Peter Mountford joined us in Missoula for the Montana Festival of the Book last year, and though I was intrigued by his titles at the time, I didn’t fully realize what a policy-wonk smorgasbord they serve. Since I made my living at politics and finance, I don’t often find fiction that pushes ALL my buttons. Both of Peter’s novels pound them like Jerry Lee Lewis. The bonus for me was how eloquently Peter describes the realities, economic and otherwise of South America. Peter, who hails from Washington, D.C., is well-travelled and astute. Sam Lipsyte’s review of The Dismal Science: ..exuberant art, a deep, moving comedy about grief, guilt, and the heart's geopolitics likewise easily applies to this, Peter’s debut novel, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism. Washingtonians and New Yorkers cannot help but devour these books. Also the growing number of small investors across the U.S. and globally will benefit from Peter’s authenticity and flair for bringing global finance into sharp relief. He even explains game theory!! Peter is currently the event curator and writer-in-residence at Hugo House, Seattle's writing center. It is reassuring that he will be sharing his gifts and genius with generations of writers on into the future.
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