Brad Feld

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Book Review – American Sucker – David Denby

Jul 02, 2004
Category Books

A true story. From the flyleaf, “In early 2000, the bottom dropped out of the life of New Yorker writer David Denby when his wife announced she was leaving him. To make matters worse, it looked as if he might lose the beloved New York apartment they shared with their children. Determined to hold on to his home and seized by the “irrational exuberance” of the stock market, then approaching its peak, Denby joined the investment frenzy with a particular goal: to make one million dollars so he could buy out his wife’s share of their place.”

Denby’s subtitles on his chapters tell the tale:

Chapter 1: Quarterly Report (QR), January 1, 2000: Cumulative Net Gain: $0
Chapter 10: Tremors: QR, April 1, 2000: CNG: $237,000
Chapter 15: Wavering: QR, July 1, 2000: CNG: $110,000
Chapter 21: Crash: QR, October 1, 2000: CNG: $85,000
Chapter 23: Pants on Fire: QR, January 1, 2001: Cumulative Net Loss: $155,000
Chapter 24: The Cancer Show: QR, April 1, 2001: CNL: $395,000
Chapter 25: September 11, 2001: QR: July 1, 2001: CNL: $251,000
Chapter 26: The End of Investing?: QR: January 1, 2002: CNL: $800,000
Chapter 27: The End of Capitalism?: QR: July 1, 2002: CNL: $720,000
Chapter 28: Slowing Down: QR: October 1, 2002: CNL: $900,000

So – from $0 to up $237,000 to down $900,000 in 21 months. The book is extremely well written and brings back lots of memories of the financial insanity (good and bad) of the turn of the century. This is a remarkably personal tale – Denby lays it all out as the self proclaimed American Sucker.