In my life I have almost nothing to do with Wall St. or business outside of reading about it, but I am interested in financial criminals, particularlyIn my life I have almost nothing to do with Wall St. or business outside of reading about it, but I am interested in financial criminals, particularly things about rogue traders etc. I also started a crime story about a wall st. trader that had stalled out and thought reading this might help. So I definitely feel I was prepared to like this.
Unfortunately, the writing is pretty bad throughout this book. Hime's "Rough Justice" Spiegelman's "Five Days at the Sunset" Burdett's "The Enlightenment of Magnus McKay" Sander's "Everything I'm Not" (In order of appearance) were the best of the lot. These were reasonable stories. The others were often non-sensical (Blodget's "Bonus Season"), cliched (Rhodes' "At the Top of His Game"), or pointless (Noonan's "Town Car", Smith's "The Day Trader in the Trunk of Cleto's Car", Starr's "The Basher").
Fusilli and Abbott had interesting ideas to look at historical situations. Unfortunately, neither one was executed well at all. The first was needlessly complex in it's telling so it just didn't evoke much. Abbott's story revolves around a conversation of a man who has just come up with an idea for an "unfixable" lottery game with his lady love. Unfortunately, again, it just seems to trade in the usual stereotypes of the hardworking woman wooed by the smooth-spoken rogue who is appealing because he believes his own rhetoric. It failed to really bring anything to the specific situation to make it interesting. It also cuts out after accomplishing almost nothing and delivers a short lecture on the historical personage involved.
Phelan's "A Trader's Lot" is again an overused idea of a sad sack who risks it all, with some twists to the plot that just don't bring much excitement.
Broderick's "Feeding Frenzy" was an odd little comic about an office intrigue with a woman lying dead on a conference room table. Neither well drawn nor well written.
Aleas' "The Quant" wasn't horribly written but the basic idea was completely unbelievable (that a firm would murder a worker's wife in order to have a chance at retaining the worker). And the ending conversation was obvious and overused, along the lines of "I calculated the probabilities." "Well you didn't count on this!"
Light's "Make Me Rich" Slightly better than the bottom rung here, but the idea is again hackneyed. Sad sack hanger-on ends up turning against arrogant disdainful associate.
Blauner's "The Consultant" an example of men doing a bad job writing women and women's situations.
Coleman's "Due Diligence" combines the problems of "The Quant" and "The Consultant". It's a bad job writing about a woman combined with a very unbelievable main idea.
I learned about her by reading Lawrence Durrell's "Bitter Lemons of Cyprus". He just mentions her briefly but I was quite interested when I read her bI learned about her by reading Lawrence Durrell's "Bitter Lemons of Cyprus". He just mentions her briefly but I was quite interested when I read her bio on wikipedia.
For me this book was amazing. She seems to have a great ability to relate to people and there are many instances where some kind of savvy was required, from simple humility and politeness to more tricky manipulations. She also does what little humanitarian aid she can, like dispensing medicines or trying to help make a splint for a broken leg. She is able to describe people and their apparent character well, whether she is praising or blaming. She has a great deal of respect for the people she meets along the way, but the various guides or helpers come in for a lot more abuse, though she seemed to respect one of them a lot. She is also happy to show these same people's good moments as well. Although most of the book is pretty concrete descriptions of the places she goes and the things she does, she does mix in some more poetic descriptions and some philosophical reflections as well as historical points which varied the material some in a nice way.
The big caveat with this book, and one that you see a fair bit in the 3 star reviews here is that it can be a bit dry and list like at times. I really like maps, and it was very clear to me quite soon after starting that it might not be too much fun if I didn't have some kind of map or visualization of where she was going. The edition I read has a couple of maps but they weren't always terribly helpful. So i immediately went on the web to start looking at satellite maps etc of where she was talking about. I ended up spending A LOT of time browsing the maps trying to connect the dots of what she was talking about.
There are several problems here. First off, transliteration is a huge problem because even if there are systems different people and maps will still do the transliteration differently. The second thing is that of course some place names have changed in the meantime. Thirdly many of the places don't have much web-presence, even if you get a hit somewhere, converting it into a spot on the map could be trying. Lastly, she can be incredibly detailed at times and really vague at others which can make it challenging. The first section of the book (northern Lorestan) was the worst in terms of being vague about where she was, but it also gave me some trouble with names I couldn't find elsewhere.
Basically, the solution I came up with was a website called mapcarta plus google earth, though I did use a couple of other geographical websites. Mapcarta is kind of crappy but it's saving grace is that it has very many name-tags on villages and geographical features. Again the transliterations would often be different but usually if you can keep oriented and you are finding multiple very likely reference points you are in the right place.
The awesome thing about google earth is that it gives you that 3dimensional feel which can often be quite obscured when looking at just the satellite images. Another amazing thing here is user uploaded photos which give another visual dimension. Also the tags on the photos sometimes gave further place name clues.
So for me using these modern resources turned the book into something of a multi-media experience. It was wonderful to be able to travel along virtually (though obviously not the same as actually being there). The other aspect of this is that of course these satellite maps are modern, so it is possible to see the development and modernization that has taken place in Iran. The obvious ones are roads, dams, and the fact that many of the areas she visited with tribespeople living in tents are now filled with settlements of permanent structures.
So, for me the book was a great time, but If you are considering reading you might want to consider how much effort to put into following along....more