The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort

The Wolf of Wall SteretWhere do you start with an autobiography that reads like a novel? Shall we start with sex? No shortage of that in every permutation. Drugs? Yup, a cornucopia. Money? So much that it boggles the mind. Ethics? No. None. Zilch. Nada. But what a story!

Welcome to the 1990’s heyday of securities chop shops. Jordan Belfort was the ultimate salesman and sleaze– smart enough to figure out how to make hundreds of millions of dollars on penny stocks at his Long Island firm Stratton Oakmont, despite living life in a Quaalude haze.  His own greed eventually did him in, causing him to lose the firm with over 1,000 employees, and go to jail for securities fraud and money laundering for close to two years. Ironically, he ended up sharing a prison cell with Tommy Chong (Cheech and Chong fame), who encouraged Belfort to write a book about his experiences.

The book and movie track very closely. If you were offended by the movie, the book will probably tweak you, too. I read the book hoping for some insight into Belfort’s motivation and came away empty. I am not sure that Jordan himself understood the motivations that drove him to open Swiss bank accounts, use family members as money mules, pilot a helicopter stoned out of his gourd, or sink his yacht in a hurricane.  While there is some introspection in his writing, it isn’t deep.  Belfort comes across as sexist, and he seems proud of his anachronistic, xenophobic, stereotypical viewpoints about…most everything. On a very positive note, Belfort may not be a professional writer, but he is an excellent storyteller, and I was drawn into the story, the characters, the dialogue and the setting.

After having his life portrayed on the big screen by actor Leonardo Dicaprio, Jordan Belfort now is a motivational speaker. I bet he is a good one.

The Wolf of Wall Street is worth a read if you are not easily offended, and enjoy a story related to Wall Street hijinks.

Find and reserve this title at the library.

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One Response to “The Wolf of Wall Street by Jordan Belfort”

  1. Steve Bank Says:

    Good review Heidi…….Steve

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