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Street Freak by Jared Dillian

Street Freak by Jared Dillian [3] is a memoir about Dillian’s life as a trader at Lehman Brothers, the famed financial services firm that went belly up in 2008. At the time, Lehman was the 4th largest investment bank in the US and its collapse was one of the most memorable moments of the financial crisis.

As regular readers will know, I really enjoy books that give us an “inside look” at an interesting industry (I’m afraid a book about librarians, as much as I love libraries, just wouldn’t cut it). It’s why I enjoyed On The Brink [4] by Hank Paulson and The Weekend That Changed Wall-Street [5] by Maria Bartiromo. In those cases, the books were behind the scenes look at the crisis itself. Dillian’s memoir takes place during the crisis (it starts with the start of his career, which goes all the way back to right before 9/11), and it includes the crisis itself and Lehman’s final years.

I’m still making my way through the book, which comes out this week, but it’s been a fun read. I’m surprised at how the clich├ęs, which you always assume can’t possibly be true, are actually true, at least in Dillian’s experience. The single minded nature of the financial services industry – “make money and survive, lose money and die” – seems so callous that it can’t be real. But it seems to be.

I’m also surprised at how pedigree makes all the difference in that world and that Dillian, who wasn’t from a top notch school and didn’t play lacrosse at a prep school on Long Island, made it in on hard work and smarts.

It’s first and foremost a memoir and a bit of a guilty pleasure look at the financial industry from the inside.