Not My Grandfather's Wall Street
Reviewed By: Editorial Board
The Editorial Board of The Columbia Review accepts submissions from authors, publishers, directors, agents, producers and fans.

Not My Grandfather’s Wall Street: Diaries of a Derivatives Trader by David von Leib is a broad-canvas novel of the financial world, yet it uniquely draws together the best of both literary worlds: fiction and non-fiction. While Mr. von Leib’s book is reminiscent of Michael Lewis’s Liar’s Poker and, to some extent, Kurt Eichenwald’s Conspiracy of Fools, it is more than either of those remarkable books. Perhaps it’s best to borrow the author’s own words (in the Preface) to clarify the previous statement:

“In telling this story […] I simply want people to understand the market environment as I have known it and lived it— the stories that I have persevered through, the mistakes that I have seen made, and the mysteries of markets that I have uncovered. […] For the sake of quality storytelling, the balance of this book is written in the third person within a technically fictional narrative. But most of my main character’s experiences are certainly based on my own actual life.”

And with that, the novel is off to a fascinating journey through more than three decades inside what the public calls “Wall Street” yet is in fact a global organism of interconnected financial markets in worldwide locations. The author masterfully uses dramatic tools of fiction to tell a chronology of suspenseful trials and tribulations. The detailed descriptions ring true—perhaps because they have actually happened. The characters are alive, colorful and convincing, the setting is fascinating and meticulous, and the events are literally pulled from news headlines.

In summary, Not My Grandfather’s Wall Street is a breathtaking master class in the rapid evolution of the financial markets in recent decades, the transformation from paper and trusted men in suits to electronics and ruthless (often criminal) competition, and the intense lives of the men and women that drive the most dominant industry of the modern world. The story is told with a dramatic flair, convincing depth, cinematic visualization, and a good measure of healthy humor, taking the reader on a realistic Wall Street rollercoaster of the best kind. Highly Recommended!