Read American Sucker by David Denby Online


Denby's writing has made him one of the country's most sought-after critics, and "Great Books" was a "New York Times" bestseller. Here Denby tells the story not only of his own decline, but of his new friends Sam Waksal, indicted founder of ImClone, and Henry Blodgett, disgraced analyst for Merrill Lynch....

Title : American Sucker
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780316192941
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 320 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

American Sucker Reviews

  • Jay Hinman
    2019-06-06 00:24

    I pulled this unread hardcover book from 2003, bought on remainder maybe ten years ago, out of my garage stash of unread books and read all 300+ pages in two sittings. David Denby is to this day the film critic at the New Yorker, and his autobiographical account of his (and our) stock market mania during the late 90s/early 00s dotcom boom ended up being far better than I anticipated. There’s probably a reason I’m so drawn to books about capitalism gone mad; I’ll snap up books about Enron and Bernie Madoff and suckers and liars of all eras, maybe because I work in business and constantly guard against falling in with the hucksters and the creeps. Denby, a man of “the arts”, came into his obsession with the market after his wife left him, right as internet-bubble stock prices were going through the roof. As a means to buy out his wife’s portion of their Manhattan residence during the divorce, he hatches a plan to make $1 million on technology stocks during the year 2000, which, given the irrational exuberance of the day, really wasn’t as hare-brained as it sounds today. That’s around the time I started actively buying stocks as well, and though I’m exceptionally risk-averse and did nothing to truly harm the tiny, tiny amount of money I had, I bought into a lot of smoke & mirrors as well (“Dow 30,000”; “a new economy”, “Lucent Technologies” and so on).His account of his inner struggles as he times the market badly are quite recognizable, and he layers on much of the same universal soul-searching that anyone does when they try to make sense of the market. I don’t mean the market writ large; the timeless fundamentals of supply and demand, and of specialization and trade, are sound and in no need of any admonishment. I mean Wall Street. "AMERICAN SUCKER", and the others I’ve read on this topic during recent years, have me eminently distrustful and skeptical of much of the entire infrastructure of Wall Street: the analysts, the brokerage houses, the trading mechanisms, the ratings agencies, the consultants and so on. Denby does an admirable job trying to deconstruct greed – his own, and that of man in general. I’m not sure he truly hits upon its good and its reprehensible qualities in a way that sent lightbulbs popping above me, but I admire his effort in trying.He befriends and follows two characters recognizable from that gilded era: the Merrill Lynch analyst Henry Blodgett, who famously touted internet stocks during their rise up and even as they were crashing (and was later prosecuted for his role in maintaining “buy” ratings on stocks in order to bring more underwriting business from these same companies to Merrill), and Sam Waksal, the ImClone CEO with the promising cancer drug who was prosecuted for insider trading and other crimes, bringing his friend Martha Stewart down with him. Denby describes the captivating hold these charlatans had on him, and we’re lucky he chose to pursue strong access to these two important players in the Wall Street psychodrama long before their dastardly deeds were revealed.What makes it all such a ripping yarn is its universality. These feelings of envy and greed are part of the human condition, and they can be exacerbated by life events like divorce – or by a constant party of wealth accumulation going on around you. The evenhanded writing qualities I’ve admired in Denby’s reviews of film are on display here, and while he’s hardest on himself, he also understands that even he is mere flesh and blood, and that it truly takes real mental and emotional work to transcend our many inborn weaknesses.

  • Marie Halloran
    2019-06-12 06:29

    On and on and on.... Loves quoting others.

  • Stephen Gallup
    2019-06-08 00:20

    This memoir is actually a useful history of the infamous tech-stock bubble of 1999-2000, as told by one of the more enthusiastic participants. I too was involved back then -- I had some of the same mentors and was invested in some of the same stocks -- so I felt almost as if the author were talking about me. Fortunately, I didn't have as much on the line as he did, but the differences between him and me, and all the others involved, were just a matter of degree.The personal story he tells is fairly short and simple, and some might feel that it's padded. That's because, to provide context and motivation, the author cites several other books and comments on them at length.Since the stock market crash of 2000, there has of course been another bubble and crash, this time in real estate. I know another real-life story of an investor who repeated this author's mistakes in that setting, also expecting untold riches and instead ending with disaster. So there's lasting value in this cautionary tale.

  • Bookmarks Magazine
    2019-06-18 08:36

    "[N]obody really wants to read about his own foolishness," notes the Wall Street Journal. "Or write about it." Except Denby. How did this smart man (and author of Great Books) become a half-witted speculator? Denby, simultaneously whiny, pedantic, and giddy as befits the boom and bust cycle he recounts, charts his personal transformation. At best, American Sucker is an honest, well-written memoir about marriage, professional responsibility, and love and loss--even if his attempt to grapple with philosophers and put his journey into a larger framework fails. At worst, it's a meandering, journalistic piece that reveals Denby's everlasting belief in the American dream--a dream readers will be smart to question. This is an excerpt from a review published in Bookmarks magazine.

  • Ryan Canady
    2019-05-25 06:26

    Started out great and I was really excited about it, but the author just gets so sidetracked so easily. I read this book to hear about his adventures in the stock market but instead was only given tiny tastes of that buried underneath a lot of commentary about mundane things in life. It's like he would be talking about stocks and then just got off on some random tangent about his sons or his failed marriage or a party he attended. If this book had not lost its focus I think I would have enjoyed it a lot more. It likely would have been a candidate for a 4 or even 5 star rating but between the tangents and the often needlessly complex languages, metaphors, and other literary distractions I was disappointed.

  • Stephanie
    2019-06-15 05:16

    I guess I was expecting this book to be something totally different. From the description, I expected it to be more a memoir of the unraveling of a marriage and the financial lengths Denby went to trying to drum up the money to save his apartment. Which it was -- but only after lengthy discussions of the stock market tech bubble of 2000-01. Frankly, most of this book was about as interesting as reading the stock pages, which is not something I'm interested in. Issues such as his divorce, his relationship with his kids, and his affair with a married woman are dealt with only briefly and as a tangent. Overall it just left me flat.

  • Ilya
    2019-06-02 02:21

    David Denby is a film critic who has worked at The New York Magazine and at The New Yorker. In early 1999, when he was 56, his wife, a novelist by occupation, told him that she wanted to divorce him. They owned a 7-room apartment in Manhattan that was worth $1.3 million. What they should have done was sell the apartment, split the proceeds, and move into smaller apartments in less glamorous places. However, Denby was so sentimentally attached to this apartment that he decided to make money on the stock market and buy out his wife's share in it. He invested in various NASDAQ stocks, and between January 2000 and October 2002 lost $900 thousand. What do they say about a fool and his money?

  • Maggie
    2019-05-26 03:36

    david denby, the market forces, and a cautionary tale. a serious snapshot of time and place: america at the turn of the millennium -- worth reading and interestingly a bit self-righteous in parts, small parts. which only adds to the human voice of the telling. overall, however, he is reviewing in real terms what happened to the stock market bubble of the beginning of the millennium. and he gives plenty of details and draws accurate conclusions. and it is reasonable to see THIS book as prophet for current market issues. we can't say we haven't be warned: american suckers, arise. you have nothing to lose but your blinders!

  • Jeff
    2019-05-22 08:27

    This was truly a brave account of one man's failure in the stock market. Moving all of his family's money into the Nasdaq tech bubble to try and but out his apartment during his divorce, Denby delves into the psychology of investing for the individual and explores some of the main players in the Wall Street scandals during that time. Using his influence as a writer for the New Yorker, Denby was able to interact with a number of Wall Street "hotshots" and follow their rise and fall. A very honest account, and a good read for people who think they can make quick money in the stock market.

  • Laurel
    2019-06-01 04:24

    David Denby is one angry man. In this mostly "one note" rant, Denby chronicles how he lost (on paper) almost a million dollars during the tech stock bubble and burst. His memoir makes him come off as a very unlikable man. It is somewhat interesting to read about his life in the stock market in the early 2000's given what is going on in the world of banking and finance today. His chronicle of his history with and the downfall of Sam Waskal is intriguing.

  • Dan Piette
    2019-05-24 00:35

    Trying to make a million in the new economy.

  • Philip Cohen
    2019-06-12 02:18

    The dot-com bubble burst seems so quaint now, but at the time it was a big deal. And Denby does a good job of putting you inside the irrational exuberance of the time.

  • Damika
    2019-05-20 07:22

    Couldn't finish. :-( Maybe another time.

  • Aharon
    2019-06-01 01:23

    If only there were a Pulitzer for self-impressed obliviousness. He congratulates himself for recognizing 9/11 as a tragedy.

  • Dan
    2019-05-23 05:21

    It's rare that someone writes a book about an incredibly stupid thing they did. That is primarily what David Denby did, and I was glad to learn from his mistakes!

  • Michele
    2019-06-07 01:29

    I never got through this, finally returned it to the library basically unread.

  • Alan
    2019-06-01 06:17

    How to lose money in the last economy.