Michael Lewis's ten-year-old account of his two-year stint as a bond salesman at Salomon Brothers has become a literary classic in the world of finance, and has probably stroked aspirations in more Wall Street-bound MBAs than any other book. I know many an individual who, after reading the book, become so enamored with the culture described therein that they take it upon themselves to act like the "human piranha" or any of the other clownish characters from the book.
Having worked on Wall Street in various client-facing capacities over the years, especially as a trader with a volatile fund, I feel the book is a bit over melodramatic and over-sensational. Are there such personas on Wall Street? Absolutley. In fact the real people on Wall Street -- the traders, the whiteshoe i-bankers, the jewish deal-makers and deal-breakers -- can be even meaner, nastier than Lewis describes. But the clownish characters he creates are probably more fiction than real. Still, his observation that most traders have huge egos and are among the most despicable human beings (despite their MBAs, Ph.D.s, or MDs) to ever walk on earth, is deadly accurate. The constant politicking is captured vividly by the author, although, again, his writing seems to border on fiction quite often.
Don't take me wrong; I think this is a must-read for anyone interested in how Wall Street breathes and works. Lewis does a fine job at exposing the disgusting nature of greed, the only thing that feeds Wall Street's daily existence.