The Buy Side-A Wall Street Trader’s Tale of Spectacular Excess

Review From User :

The Buy Side has been out less than 48 hours, I've got another half-dozen books on my nightstand and yet I'm writing this review having just finished the book. That tells you how immensely readable The Buy Side is.

Full Disclosure: Having just written a Wall Street memoir of my own, and having spent roughly the same 15 years on the Street as Turney, I am very familiar with the world he writes about, having been present at some of the book's scenes, and even had a tangential acquaintance with the author at the time. While some may claim that makes this review somewhat biased, it's also true that that familiarity creates a very high "rings true" bar for me as a reader.

Turney soars over that bar.

One of the things a reader has to worry about in any memoir is determining the reliability of the narrator. This is the first Wall Street memoir I have ever read where I didn't feel the author had at least in some way enhanced his own image either via overstatement or omission. Turney Duff was as affable an individual as he describes in the book. If he learned that you, a colleague of one of his brokers, discovered a new burger joint on the lower East Side, he'd get you on the phone and talk about the finer points of burgers with you, offering to take you to his favorite joint by the end of the call. (This actually happened.) Describing his skill as a trader, Turney claims that he shunned technical analysis, lacked fundamental knowledge of the companies he traded and had no taste for macro economic data, yet made money for his employers by expertly reading the people he interacted with everyday. That claim is convincingly backed up by his descriptions of different people in the book. It is incredible how spot on he is in his descriptions of individuals I know from that era. But don't take my word for it, instead consider this: At two different points in the book, he subtly eviscerates both the character and trading skill of a trading desk colleague. And yet, on the day of The Buy Side's publication, that very person tweeted out support for the book. That, I thought, tells you all you need to know about how accurate the accounts in the book are.

As a writer, Turney's gift is his pacing of the story. There is no real suspense to his story, he doesn't resort (like some recent authors - ahem) to cheap footnotes and asides in an attempt to entertain the reader and yet the story soars along. There are a lot of great storytellers in bars and as evidenced by the early-1993 scenes in the book, Turney has been able to count himself among those ranks for years. What's exceedingly rare is the person who can translate that skill to the written page as well. Turney Duff is in very select company on that count.

My only suggestions for more detail centered on two issues: 1) David Slaine, is the wire-wearer who brought down Raj Rajaratnam and Galleon. (It's heavily implied in the book he tried to coax 2008/2009-era info out of Turney as well.) Early in the book, Turney vividly describes Slaine's early 2000s exile from Galleon. How did he get back inside the firm and how much does Turney, given his keen observational skills, feel the humiliating exit a decade earlier shaped Slaine's motives

2) Turney describes himself as advancing his career by overcoming a lack of traditional ability with superior social skills. I'd like to know if the sell side individuals who supplied him with drugs and hookers were doing the same thing. There's definitely a delineation between top-tier, bulge bracket firms (maybe a half-dozen firms) and the other three to four dozen lesser-tier firms who covered Turney. Was the hooker/drug culture more prevalent at firms, and the individuals who represented them, that had nothing else to offer Given Turney's credibility, there's no one better to answer that question.

The Buy Side is a great book, and if we're all lucky, coming someday to a theater near you.

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