May 23 2004

Ugly Americans

Nope – this is not yet another post about Iraq.

I just finished reading Ugly Americans : The True Story of the Ivy League Cowboys Who Raided the Asian Markets for Millions. Awesome!

Ben Mezrich previously wrote Bringing Down the House: The Inside Story of Six M.I.T. Students Who Took Vegas for Millions. I directly knew one of the people in the book (an old boyfriend of my wife and a frat brother of mine) and indirectly knew another (a frat brother of Raj Bhargava, an entrepreneur that I’ve done five companies with) so I figured I was pretty biased when I thought it was a great book.

Mezrich did it again. Ugly Americans is riviting. It’s a true story about a clueless Princeton grad (John Malcolm) who randomly ends up in Osaka trading Nikkei futures for Dean Carney (an alias) at Kidder Peabody. After Joe Jett blows up Kidder, he ends up at Barings trading the same futures for Nick Leeson. After Nick Leeson blows up Barings, he ends back with Dean Carney in Tokyo who has started a hedge fund.

The book catalogs Malcolm’s exploits through his six years of being an Ivy League Cowboy in Asia, culminating in the trade of the century which will either earn $500 million in three minutes at the end of the day on a Friday or wipe out Carney’s hedge fund. Of course, there is plenty of Japanese culture, sex, some love, American’s gone wild, Yakuza, and twists and turns that could only happen in real life.

Highly recommended – along with Bringing Down the House.