I don't normally write bad reviews, but felt compelled after I saw the gushing praise on this site, many from young people who say they were considering a career in investment banking but decided against it after reading this book.
Well, I am a senior investment banker in my tenth year at one of the bulge bracket firms - one of a group that the authors like to make fun of - and I feel compelled to say that this book gives a twisted, exaggerated, and very shallow view. This is not surprising given that the authors only stuck around for 2 years, hardly enough time to understand what investment banking is. Their inexperience shows in this pathetic attempt to emulate Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker.
Yes, investment banking is grueling much of the time, there are jerks above you, and the atmosphere can wear you down. But think about it: you could say the same about being a medical intern, and I don't see many interns trashing the medical profession.
The fact of the matter is, no company or organization is going to give you glamorous, intriguing work straight out of college or any graduate school. FRESH GRADUATES OF ANY DISCIPLINE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THIS. This is especially true of the professions (law, architecture, medicine, and I would include investment banking as a profession) where you have to pay a price early on to really master the in-depth knowledge and know-how that the profession demands.
I went through the same disillusioning process that these authors did. I went to law school, and during my summer internships at law firms I was given drudgery to do, which is why I decided to go into investment banking instead. But, alas, I realized the hard way that the life of a junior investment banker is equally painful. But unless you are a rock star or a star athlete, is anything at the junior level terribly exciting? No, all jobs will have their share of tedium, stupid politics, and exasperating colleagues, especially at the junior levels. Yes, investment banking has more of these pains than your regular corporate jobs, but you also get to learn more and make more money in the process.
That's not to say that investment banking is for everyone - you do have to sacrifice more in terms of personal life. Moreover, investment banks have dysfunctional management philosophies, where the managers' solution to most problems and dissatisfactions that bankers have with the organization is to throw more money at them.
If you want to learn how to be a leader and learn how great organizations are run, then stay away from investment banks and join GE or P&G instead. But if you like challenges, problem solving, understanding how businesses work (other than management) and, yes, making lots of money, then investment banking can be rewarding. But of course, if you stick with it for a year or two, you may think it is stupid too, though I think you learn quite a lot in those two years. And I bet that the authors of this book will admit, when they are alone and don't have to try to be so cute or glib, that it was a good learning experience.