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This is not a great book, in general or on the financial crisis in particular. It is good and it may be one of the best on the origins, mechanisms, models, culture and consequences of the quants on Wall Street. But it seemed to me that Patterson tried to do too much in this book, to tell a human story, a history story, have multiple parallel and intersecting plot lines and so many protagonists (major, minor and very minor) that it was easy to get lost in the text (it is very well read by Chamberlain). It is encyclopedic in some ways, without having the organizational and categorical benefits of being an encyclopedia (which might, in any case, be hard to listen to).
Before you go away thinking the book is worthless, let me say that many sections, small sections scattered about, are superb. Which is why it gets a 4-star score rather than something lower. Patterson is very good with the root origins, in mathematics and physics, and the more near-term historical origins in the US investor community in the 1950s, 1960s & 1970s. Patterson is quite good at explaining the different threads of quant strategies without getting you bogged all down in math. And he does succeed at times, in the human story, to make you understand some of the players.
Like any complex event, to fully understand what happened, you have to read more than one book on the subject. Other books on Audible such as those by Tett, Lowenstein and Lewis tend to complement Patterson's book by looking at different facets of the origins of the crisis, the crisis itself and the public policy issues. Tett, Lowenstein & Lewis do not focus so much on the quants, so to fill out your knowledge it may be necessary to pick up Patterson. And since the quants are in many ways right at the center of the crisis, in the way it filled up a bubble, popped the bubble and generated significant contagion effects, it is necessary to understand them.
21 of 22 people found this review helpful
I have gone through several books in this genre, the last being "The Myth of the Rational Market." That is an alright book, but this blows it away on the same topics. This author is a great, standout (not merely good) explainer of events and ideas. The smiles this books brings me along the line are intelligent smiles. He adds just enough color and personal quirky stuff (nerdy of course, as one would expect here) to stay breezy, but is slightly more straighfaced than, say, Michael Lewis. The choice of details and events never wanders far from the big ideas and history being presented. This will get a second listening.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful