Thousands of nonfiction books have been written on finance.
Here are my personal favorites.
Finance and Risk
Peter Bernstein is a venerable authority on Wall Street.
Bernstein, Peter L. Capital Ideas: The Improbable Origins of Modern Wall Street (1992). This excellent book tells how academic research influenced modern investment practice.
Bernstein, Peter L. Capital Ideas Evolving (2007). The sequel to the above, Bernstein updates us on how "Capital Ideas" are still alive and well on Wall Street.
Bernstein, Peter L. Against the Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk (1996). While the story of risk is indeed quite remarkable, Peter Bernstein’s telling of it is a pleasure to read.
Fox, Justin. The Myth of the Rational Market: A History of Risk, Reward, and Delusion on Wall Street (2009). A trashing of the efficient market hypothesis.
Poitras, Geoffrey. The Early History of Financial Economics, 1478-1776. Finance professor Geoff Poitras has brilliantly compiled a history of finance.
Traders, Quants, and Superstars Oh My!
There have been tons of books written on traders. My personal favorites are
Bass, Thomas A. The Predictors: How a Bank of Maverick Physicists Used Chaos Theory to Trade Their Way to a Fortune on Wall Street (1999). The title pretty much tells it all.
Derman, Emanuel. My Life as a Quant: Reflections on Physics and Finance (2004). One of the first and most successful quants to make it big on Wall Street reflects back on his life.
Falloon, William D. Charlie D.: The Story of the Legendary Bond Trader. (1997). A fantastic story about one of the greatest traders in market history and his courageous battles against other traders and against death.
Lewis, Michael A. Liar’s Poker (1989). This may be the most popular book ever written about life on Wall Street. Lewis’ bias shines through a bit too much, but it is still an educational and entertaining read.
Lindsey, Richard R. and Barry Schachter. How I Became a Quant: Insights from 25 of Wall Street's Elite (2007). Excellent collection of stories of how, well, they became quants. Enough said.
Mehrling, Perry. Fischer Black and the Revolutionary Idea of Finance (2005). Fascinating story of the life of one of a finance megastar. Admittedly a little dry at times and the obsession with macroeconomics was a bit much for my taste but still, a great read.
Patterson, Scott. The Quants (2010). A series of interconnected profiles of today's most famous quants and how their models imploded during the markets of 2007-2008. Although the author clearly feels that quants were a major source of the problem, there is reasonable balance. The quants are not made out to be evildoers but just people legally exploiting a system.
Rolfe, John and Peter Troob. Monkey Business: Swinging Through the Wall Street Jungle (2000). If you liked Liar's Poker, you'll love this one, though it did not get as much attention.
Women in Finance
These books are proof positive that women can do as well as men in finance.
Herera, Sue. Women of the Street: Making It on Wall Street – The World’s Toughest Business (1997). From the CNBC commentator.
Koppel, Mara. Women of the Pits: Shattering the Glass Ceiling in Financial Markets (1998).
Pedersen, Laura with F. Peter Model. Play Money: My Brief but Brilliant Career on Wall Street (1991). This one is probably out of print. Watch the used book tables.
The Failure of Barings Bank
One of the most highly publicized stories of risk management failure.
Fay, Stephen. The Collapse of Barings (1996).
Leeson, Nick. Rogue Trader: How I Brought Down Barings Bank and Shook the Financial World (1996). Here the story straight from the horse’s mouth.
Rawnsley, Judith H. Total Risk: Nick Leeson and the Fall of Barings Bank (1995).
The Collapse of Long-Term Capital Management
When Nobel laureates and Wall Street traders get together, anything is possible.
Dunbar, Nicholas. Inventing Money: The Story of Long-Term Capital Management and the Legends Behind It (2000).
Lowenstein, Roger. When Genius Failed: The Rise and Fall of Long-Term Capital Management (2000).
From a Spiritual Point of View
Ritchie, Mark A. God in the Pits: Confessions of a Commodities Trader (1989)
Ridgway, Nicole. The Running of the Bulls (2005). About the cutthroat competition at the undergraduate Wharton business school for the best jobs in finance.
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Last updated: May 27, 2012