Reminiscences of a Stock Operator: Jon Markman's Annotated Edition (Book Review) ~ market folly

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Reminiscences of a Stock Operator: Jon Markman's Annotated Edition (Book Review)

Financial authors have been cranking out some good books as of late on topics relating to the crisis and current investment landscape. Award winning journalist and veteran hedge fund manager Jon D. Markman, however, has added a twist to an investing classic. Recently, he published an Annotated Edition of Edwin Lefevre's Reminiscences of a Stock Operator. Markman has put out a historical and insightful version of the life and times of Jesse Livermore that includes a foreword and appendix by legendary hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones.

The original story, Lefevre's Reminiscences of a Stock Operator, is by far one of the most well known and acclaimed books on financial markets. It was one of the first books listed in our recommended reading list because it teaches many valuable lessons about financial markets via a fictionalized account of Jesse Livermore's rollercoaster trading ride. This book is well known for its timeless advice such as, "the trend is your friend" and "let your winners run and cut your losses quickly." We could go on, but Lefevre's tale is literally laced with hundreds of insightful anecdotes. Hedge fund manager Paul Tudor Jones received a copy from his first boss and now gives a copy to every new trader at hedge fund Tudor Investment Corp, regardless of their experience level. The book is that useful.

Now, what Markman has done with his Annotated Edition of Reminiscences of a Stock Operator is added a sense of history and context. He has helped modern day readers connect with what now seem like ancient times. To today's reader, the people, places and events of the 1920's are distant and disconnected. Markman connects the dots by incorporating newspaper clippings, biographies, pictures, descriptions and more in his annotations. Almost every single page is chalk full of information and we can only imagine how long it took him to compile such historical resources.

This annotated edition is both a story and a history book. It adds a layer of vintage facts and really draws you in to what trading and financial markets were like back in the 1920's. When we first read Lefevre's Reminiscences many years ago, we'll be the first to admit that some of the people, places and events had little to no meaning or relevance for us; they were just 'part of the story.' Markman's work truly rectifies this as he bridges the gap and provides you with many "ah-ha!" moments. Needless to say, many elements of the book now have much more meaning and relevance.

While these annotations are highly useful, they definitely slow the flow of the story. You'll undoubtedly find yourself reading every single notation and it will take you almost twice as long as the original to read. That being said, it is definitely worth the time as it made us discover so many elements we missed in prior reads. Not to mention, Paul Tudor Jones' interview at the end of the book offers you a glimpse through his legendary hedge fund trading eyes. Simply put, Jon D. Markman's Annotated Edition of Reminiscences of a Stock Operator enhances an already must-read investing classic.

We'll leave you with one timeless bit of wisdom from the book: never argue with the tape.

For other insightful investing books, be sure to check out our recommended reading lists as well as our other book reviews.

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