Edwin Lefevre's "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator" is a "fictionalized" memoir of the real-life trader Jesse Livermore - considered by some the greatest stock trader of all-time. Working in the early twentieth century, Livermore started from nothing and built multi-million dollar wealth multiple times, only to repeatedly lose it. Livermore was so respected and feared during his era that rumors of his trades would create and destroy fortunes on Wall Street. In this book, written in 1922, Livermore tells the
This book is not a full memoir of his life and instead focuses only on his "business." He only refers to his wife or personal life as it relates to his investing; for example, in one case, one executive "used" his wife by dropping some insider information to her over dinner in an effort to encourage Livermore to trade in that company. Livermore did, but - as someone who didn't believe in buying on tips - her instead shorted that company. Still, because he never focused on his personal life and rarely on his personal feelings, I was shocked to later read that Livermore killed himself twenty years later and had had four wives.
This book is full of "trading" (not investing") advice. Is any of his advice relevant today? While his techniques may not work for the modern trader, much can still be learned from this book. He says it best when he says that, although cadets at West Point need not study archery as practiced by the ancients, "Weapons change, but strategy remains strategy, on the New York Stock Exchange as on the battlefield.... `The principles of successful stock speculation are based on the supposition that people will in the future will continue to make the mistakes that they have made in the past.'"
"Reminiscences of a Stock Operator" is written in a very matter-of-fact style that is easy to read. It is a very interesting book to read and a window on another era. Still, many of the lessons and strategies are still useful for the modern trader.