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The Shipping Man

(Robert Fairchild #1)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  791 ratings  ·  47 reviews
When restless New York City hedge fund manager Robert Fairchild watches the Baltic Dry Cargo Index plunge 97%, registering an all-time high and a 25-year low within the span of just six months, he decides to buy a ship.

Immediately fantasizing about naming a vessel after his wife, carrying a string of worry beads and being able to introduce himself as a "shipowner" at his u
Paperback, 310 pages
Published June 8th 2011 by Marine Money, Inc.
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Average rating 4.03  · 
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Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nautical-fiction
This book is probably only for die-hard nautical fans like myself who love Max Hardberger's books. You have to be really weird like me to enjoy the arcane twists and turns of the shipping industry. If you do, and you enjoy sardonic writing, you'll love this book.

Robert Fairchild is a New York hedge fund owner/manager who becomes intrigued by the possibility of making money in the shipping industry. He's a total neophyte, completely unaware of the hazards and complications of an industry ostensib
Patrick Neylan
Nov 27, 2017 rated it it was ok
Recommended to Patrick by: Julie Lithgow
The great thing about being president of a maritime publishing company is that you can get your own book published without having to seduce a mainstream publisher. The down side is that no-one will tell you your book isn't very good. And the down side of being a freelance maritime publisher (like me) is that you'll probably never work for Marine Money if you give the president's book a bad review. Still, one has one's principles.

I was given this by the director of a major maritime institution w
Andrew Hecht
While I found this book entertaining and certainly educational in matters of international cargo shipping, I was constantly perplexed by the main character's ignorance and stupidity. For someone who was a hedge-fund manager, supposedly wise at least in the ways of the financial world, he came off as a completer idiot. He entered into complex multi-million maritime contracts without legal review or advice with people of dubious ethics and then is repeatedly blindsided by clauses in the contract w ...more
Travis Tucker
I give this book 1 star as an actual novel and 3 stars as an introduction to the shipping industry (a "shipping textbook" as others have said).

As far as a shipping introduction, I feel like the basics were covered well and it piqued my interest in doing some additional research on the subject.

As far as a novel, the character interactions are contrived, there are needless "name dropping" instances ("his Hermes tie", "the shrimp from Nobu", etc) and then some cringe-worthy dialog such as the follo
Michael C.
Oct 21, 2016 rated it did not like it
This book insulted my intelligence. The main character (A supposed 'Harvard Man') Is a vapid, self-absorbed dunderhead. God what an idiot. Every female character is flat and exists for the benefit of another male character. The wife is a spineless pushover pleased with whatever idiot move the husband makes (there are plenty). The female investment banker exists to be a supposed 'Strong Independent Woman who don't need no man' but really exists to show how a woman who could never previously find ...more
Fred Forbes
Jul 13, 2014 rated it liked it
After reading in the Wall St. Journal that this book was ending up in the offices of many hedge managers, I decided to give it a try. Since I have been involved in finance and investments for 35 years I enjoyed this glimpse into the world of shipping, but my sense is that those who lack a background in finance may find it a bit of a slog. The writing is not particularly strong but the story moves along. As satire of the capital markets it can be a delight, if occasionally overwrought. Characters ...more
Jun 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A great introduction into the business of shipping from the finance guy's perspective. Although it is a novel, a lot of things surely ring true. ...more
Alex Song
Jun 01, 2016 rated it liked it
Pretty fun read. But overall fairly poorly written and not realistic. Hedge fund managers are not that dumb...
Oct 10, 2017 rated it liked it
For anyone in shipping finance, this would be a 4 star.
For everyone else, this is a 1 star.
Library of
Apr 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
One of my favourite books - both very educational as well as highly entertaining. Also an easy read. Best of all worlds! Below are my notes on the book, more summaries can be found at

Matthew McCleery is an advisor at Blue Sea Capital and has been a board member of two Greek NASDAQ-listed shipping companies, a hedge fund and several shipping organizations. The book, which is fiction, is about the fictional Robert Fairchild’s journey from a smooth hedge fund manager to an experie
Sep 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is described as a "thriller," and I want to be clear that this is only accurate to the extent that you find high-yield bond offerings thrilling. At one point Somali pirates briefly enter the picture, but they are quickly dispatched with offscreen to make way for a plot thread about European regulators disputing the marking of some of a bank's underwater loans.

Overall I really enjoyed it; the writing was awful, but it was a totally fun way to learn about the economics of the shipping industr
Rohan Pinto
Jan 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant story telling helping understand a lay person, inner working cogs of Shipping Industry. And simple heuristics to get you stared on how do you approach cyclical industries.

#Fav quote of the book
“Money is a commodity just like the ships and the cargo. Even the people who say they are broke have money available for a good deal. Money hides when there is danger, but pops out whenever there is value.”
Ted Alling
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
If you have any interest in how International shipping works this book is a 10. You can tell McCleerey does some very big business deals. The way, he explains the buying and selling methods is incredible. Fun book
Michael Wald
Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good introduction to the shipping industry.

Is it fiction? Yes. Is it a romanticized version of reality? Yes. But the author included enough factual information to make the novel both a good read and a teaching tool to introduce the shipping industry to novices like me.
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good and interesting story. I loved reading it very fast-paced.
May 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not the best written book—character development is a bit cheap—but does the job of giving a 101 on the tanker industry and peripherally of shipping and oil and gas trade.
Pratik Barasia
Jun 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A fun way to understand the shipping industry
Tracy B
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

If you enjoy finance and investing you will enjoy this book. Its very funny and tongue in cheek, you may even recognise the characters. Recommended
Ben Weinstein
There are better shipping books to be read

The book isn’t written that well but it was entertaining and one can learn a few things about the shipping industry from it.
Angelo Salonitis
Oct 04, 2020 rated it did not like it
Cringey bad. I’ve read elementary school work that is better than this crap.
BJ Kellogg
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh I want to be a Shipping man. I man need to go back to school and figure out what all of the economic and baking terms mean
M Westermann
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved it
Jun 01, 2021 rated it liked it
quick, enjoyable read
interesting glimpse into shipping & logistics
a good amount of finance / hedge fund jargon
Simon Ward
Feb 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, shipping

A lot of people in my industry have been talking about this book and in fact a friend/client gave me the book as a gift. As the blurb says it is part primer, part thriller on the financial aspects of the shipping industry. It is amusing enough for insiders, especially trying to figure out who the characters are based on. But unfortunately in this case the sum of the two parts is not greater than the whole.

I am sure that a lot of the problems would be solved by a decent proof reader let alone a
Alexis Grove
Oct 16, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you like stories about investing, this book will tickle you. The protagonist of this (apparently) true story is a US hedge fund manager who, essentially on a whim, decides to invest a large part of his fund into a cargo ship, sight unseen. (the fact that he was drunk at the time and there was a beautiful woman egging him on seem to be the major drivers of this momentous investment decision.)

His interactions with various shadowy Greek and Norwegian shipping magnates lead him on a crazy yo-yo
Jonathan Le
May 01, 2016 rated it liked it
I am in the business and know some of the "real" people this is based on. It's ok but makes Wall Street investment fund manager look way too intelligent and the Greek "broker" is too stereotypical. In a nutshell I enjoyed reading it if nothing else to have a good laugh at my industry. Which we do not do enough of. I have recommended this book to those on the market but would say it is a little tough to follow if you do not have a basic understanding of of the shipping markets and the challenges ...more
Sep 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
One of the finest books I have read in a long time.
Brilliant for investors and students of human psychology :)

The book takes us through the world of the shipping industry and the roles that many of its participants play.
But I found it to be a very deep and meaningfully written book.
About why people get interested in the exotic and the rising stock markets and ponzi schemes
How stupid or poor fund managers can be, and how desperate the real rich people tend to be
Reminds me of why only the boring p
Aaron VanAlstine
Jul 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
The Shipping Man purports to be a financial thriller but is it really an exposition of the shipping industry. It’s also one of the most poorly written books I have ever read. Every character seems to be a petulant, sniveling retard or a two-dimensional cutout. The dialog is horrible; adverbs are in almost every line in the entire book (“I like your butt,” he said cheekily.) I don’t know how this was published without seeing an editor.

I’ll give it two stars since the industry information was pret
Oct 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I bought this book for my husband last Christmas based on a review. I ended up reading it myself and found it a very good read, and discovered that lots of people believe the older, experienced shipping man closely resembles a real-life, larger-than-life shipping man.

For most people, the younger shipping man's course of action - leaving the hedge fund he ran and gambling everything to become a shipping man - is a fantasy - but a delicious fantasy!

I also enjoyed the background details, some of
May 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
This was required reading for my vessel chartering class and while the story kept the material and information flowing, the main character was portrayed as quite clueless. This was undoubtedly done to inform both him and the reader of the various aspects of the industry but while reading, it is noticeable and deteriorates from the story in my opinion. Recommended if you are interested in a short novel that flirts with the basics of the shipping industry.
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Matt McCleery is the President of Marine Money and Managing Director of Blue Sea Capital, Inc. where he advises shipowners and investors on ship financing and investment transactions. He can be reached at

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Robert Fairchild (2 books)
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