The Wolf of Wall Street (book) – Quick-Paced Tale of Deceit and Decadence

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Do you hate bankers? Do you get twirled or feel nauseated hearing the word ‘Insider trading’? Do you think that Wall Street guys are plunderers of earth’s wealth? If yes, your view isn’t going to change much after reading Jordan Belfort’s hard-hitting biography “The Wolf of Wall Street.” In fact, the decadent lifestyle of Wall Street brokers might give you a bloodcurdling reading experience. It’s not a book about investments. It’s a 515 page memoir, which chronicles Belfort’s frenzied lifestyle, lurid dates with prostitutes, and narcotics-fueled trips to the money laundering capital (Switzerland).

Jordan Belfort was born in Queens, New York. He bustled about the streets selling ices to pay for his college expenses. He had entrepreneurial skills at a very early age. At the age of 24, he was married, failed at his business and was left without a penny. He later joined a investment-banking firm ‘LF Rothschild.’ Six years later, in 1993, he owned a trading firm, ‘Stratton Oakmont.’ He ruled his company like a cult leader and his merry band of brokers proudly called him as “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

Belfort’s memoir is not about his raise. We never get insights about how he built ‘Stratton Oakmont’ into such a powerhouse. However, he carefully reconstructs his careless indulgence with hookers, cocaine and Quaaludes. The memoir makes us difficult to dislike this guy, even though he hurts and manipulates everyone around him. He served 22 months in federal prison. Not because of his insane drug intakes. His crime was being the undisputed king of illegal trading. He got indicted for money laundering and securities fraud. He inflated the price of stock by making false predictions about future growth. He nearly owed $110 million to his victims.

Jordan Belfort

Jordan Belfort

The book is written very casually. It’s a great read even for those who don’t understand anything about trading or finance. Belfort gets our attention by giving a close view of the eccentric brokerage industry and the vile men involved in it. Belfort’s romantic episodes with Nadine (nickname: Duchess of Bay Ridge), international financial dealings with criminal bankers and stock forgers are all page-turners. The biography becomes a sort of survival story, when Belfort and his motley crew takes a 165 foot yacht out in storm conditions against the advice of the captain.

The memoir is a fun to read and never gets boring. Belfort’s observations are often humorous and ironical. If you get offended by strong language, then you best avoid this book, because, Belfort’s sexual and drug escapades are chronicled like a whirlwind of insanity. “The Wolf of Wall Street” also raises many questions about the intentions of Belfort (even though he has written a detailed prologue). After this saga, Belfort, is  now a ‘Self Improvement Guru.’ Even in his trading firm days, he was a great motivational speaker (which is evident in one of the chapters). He has also written a sequel to this book named ‘Catching the Wolf of Wall Street’ which was also touted as a ‘page-turner’ and ‘best-seller.’

Di Caprio as Belfort in the movie adaptation

Di Caprio as Belfort in the movie adaptation

Belfort cleverly manipulates the readers to think that everyone around him is a thief and maniac, at the same time,  pops up some kind of love or sentimental story, when it comes to his reason for crimes and tries to gather the readers’ sympathy. He smartly neglects to discuss about his feelings on swindling nearly $200 million out of the general public. The book strongly portrays the decadent lives of Wall Street brokers and condemns them, but we can never presume that Belfort actually cares at all about  his entirely glossed over  crime.

This is a man who used innovative stock manipulation schemes and ended up serving some time for those dealings. Although his lifestyle is one of the reasons for the fall, it’s not his biggest crime. I, somehow felt that Mr. Belfort must be relished with his new career as a scribe. He must feel good to expose his twisted, glorious, private adventures. “Wolf of Wall Street” gives us many moral lessons and great insights, but it is strictly one-sided. I hope,at least  director Martin Scorsese will provide a fitting social subtext on his adaptation of this memoir.

The book has a tagline “How Money Destroyed A Wall Street SuperMan.” In future, I expect Belfort to write a book with a tagline, “How exposing my decadent life-style made me a successful motivational speaker.”

 

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