The Book: The Zeroes: My Misadventures in the Decade Wall Street Went Insane by Randall Lane, Portfolio, $27.95, Hardcover, July 2010.
Every decade seems to have a nickname: The Roaring Twenties and The Swinging Sixties, for example. Randall Lane makes a strong case for the past decade to be christened The Zeroes. In his new memoir of the same name, Lane—cofounder and editor of Trader Monthly and Dealmaker magazines—tells the story of his own experiences during that decade of financial excess that we all are now paying for.
Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin is still the definitive book about the actual banking crisis that changed our world so radically. The Zeroes offers more of a People magazine (or possibly TMZ) look at how we got here. And that is not an insult. The entertainment rag aspect comes from the author's willingness to name names and pull no punches when describing, with an insider's eye, the excesses of the decade. The people gracing these pages include Sen. John McCain gambling at a craps table and ex-Major League Baseball player Lenny Dykstra behaving as an authority on the stock market.
As a magazine publisher—the traders loved the PR he could provide—Lane was smack dab in the middle of the lunacy. This unique view—a bit like Alice in Wonderland—is presented with the use of a self-deprecating humor that pervades the book and creates sympathy for a man misled by opportunity.
What Michael Lewis did for '80s traders in Liar's Poker, Randall Lane has now done for trader rock stars of The Zeroes. You will be stunned by the craziness and cautioned by the consequences.
Reviewer Jack Covert is the founder of 800-CEO-READ, a leading bookseller to corporations and large organizations, based in Milwaukee.