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Book review: The Boy Plunger

The Boy Plunger is a biography of J.L. Livermore. J.L. Livermore (Jesse to those who didn’t know him) is the same person who is the subject of the seminal (no homo) investing tome Reminiscences of a Stock Operator.

While Reminiscences was known to be loosely based on Livermore’s life, The Boy Plunger endeavors to be a¬†historically accurate biography of one of the most interesting financial figures ever born.

If J.L. Livermore were alive today he’d be selling¬†Tim Cook’s gay AAPL short at 30 to 1 margin on Monday and by Tuesday be long 50 to 1. He was a fucking madman, much like our good patron saint of these halls, Le Fly. He made $100 Million in ONE week during the crash of 1929. That’s recorded as the most money ANYONE has made in seven days. Including that fuckface Zuckerberg. A few years later J.L. Livermore was bankrupt.

As appropriate to a man who became the richest person in the world inside of 7 days and then a few years later filing bankruptcy the story ends when he blows his brains out in a coat room at a NY hotel. It’s reported he did the deed with very little mess incurred. A gentleman to the end.

We pick up the story where young JL he left his mother at age 14 to move to Boston whereupon he walked into a bucket shop and lied to get his first job. A few short years later he is rubbing elbows with EF Hutton and then agreeing to being the savior Pierpont Morgan asked for (no Batman) when the entire market was going to collapse. You get a blow by blow account of the triumphs and tribulations of Mr Livermore and his impact on markets and companies that are still around today.

While his stock trades were interesting enough for several other books as a biography you really get a sense of the man who purchased and sold yachts for sport, bought a house that put William Chrysler to shame, used the Ziegfeld Follies as his personal farm system for mistresses and generally swung his enormous sack around on both the bull and bear side of the market for more than 25 years.

Throughout all the ups and downs J.L. maintains a stoic attitude and personal responsibility for every success and failure. He’s grounded 100% in what it is to be a Stock Operator. There are numerous quotes all of which are lessons in objectivity, controlling one’s emotions and being brutally honest with oneself when on the wrong side of a trade.

Cheers to you Mr Livermore.

(I highly recommend this book)

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  1. tm

    I’m reading it now, so far it’s pretty good…I’m up to 1907. One gripe, the author’s attention to detail with regard to dates and times is loose and inconsistent at times.

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    • en1gma

      I was impressed with the details although I never fact checked any dates mentioned.

      Overall it was a solid biography and an entertaining read. I read some stoic philosophy material before the Boy Plunger and it was clear to me that JL Livermore was a stoic from an early age. His ability to sustain crippling losses multiple times was born from serious inner strength and ability to persevere.

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