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Knightmare on Wall Street: The Rise and Fall of Knight Capital and the Biggest Risk for Financial Markets by Edgar Perez
Date Finished: May 13th, 2018
Reading Time: Two days
My weekend in judging books by covers: this is a bad one. The writing is atrocious, and that’s a real shame because this is both a story worth telling and a story well researched. Grammar, style, and sentence structure are at times bad if not outwardly wrong, my main gripe being an abundance of useless adjectives. Character development is actually good and I found the biographies of most major players to be more captivating than the story itself. Unfortunately, minor characters suffer from a stiff and haphazard chronology along the lines of “Currently is a lawyer. Went to Harvard. Went to a high school. Is Catholic. Played baseball in high school. Ran 24:11 in the Chase Corporate Challenge in 2011.”
The author’s obsession with the Chase Corporate Challenge is hilarious. First of all, the race really isn’t much of a challenge and a white collar professional taking part in it tells you absolutely nothing unless the character happens to be winning the race. It was for some reason deemed necessary to highlight that one participant had slowed down between his first race and his most recent one seven years later. None of the other people were winning the race either. They were quite slow.
The Knightmare part of the book is also a Knightmare to read. With timestamps, it’s supposed to be a gripping play-by-play, but it’s about as exciting as the roller coaster at your local county fair, presuming you don’t live in a county that has a large budget for roller coasters at the county fair. Not quite worth the price of admission but better than spending your day with the guy selling deep-fried Oreos.
To those on the technology side, this book contains absolutely nothing by way of what actually went wrong. You get a cursory high-level overview: 1. No failsafe/kill switch 2. Something-something-something Powerpeg software 3. The firm spent 35 minutes being idiotic after discovering the issue. More comprehensive technical details have been described to me much more succinctly by people who I don’t necessarily regard as succinct or as KCG tech stack experts.
Knight has an intriguing history and, today, there could be at least a few more chapters appended to this book. I don’t think that all this research was for naught, but this was an underwhelming book written for an audience that doesn’t exist.