My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance by Emanuel Derman
Date Finished: September 7th, 2016
Reading Time: Four days
I think that Emanuel Derman was the perfect person to have written this book. A pioneering quant with a classic hard science background, he writes well and his autobiography is genuine above all else. This isn’t a Michael Lewis book, however, and it’s hard to pinpoint the intended audience. He seems to go to unnecessary lengths to establish the definition and pedigree of “quant”, but then spends entire chapters describing things that only quants would care about. I’m in the industry, and I found the book a chore to read after a day at work.
The storytelling is flawed in several respects. There is no suspense built up at all throughout the narrative. From the title, okay, we expect a guy to study physics and then go to Wall Street, but absolutely nothing is left to the imagination. How many times are we prematurely told about his time at Goldman before he actually begins working there? While at Goldman, why is a return to Goldman foreshadowed? It makes you want to skip past everything concerning Salomon brothers (aside from a few anecdotes, you should). Then, the character development is atrocious. Even his wife and kids get shafted (in terms of their share of exposure in the story) after he starts on Wall Street.
The redeeming quality is that the man is a genius. However, there are easily two dozen Wall Street non-fiction books you should pick up before this one.