Sep

20

 Like Michael Lewis's classic Liar's Poker, Jared Dillian's Street Freak takes readers behind the scenes of the legendary Lehman Brothers, exposing its outrageous and often hilarious corporate culture.

In this ultracompetitive Ivy League world where men would flip over each other's ties to check out the labels (also known as the "Lehman Handshake"), Dillian was an outsider as an ex-military, working-class guy in a Men's Wearhouse suit. But he was scrappy and determined; in interviews he told potential managers that, "Nobody can work harder than me. Nobody is willing to put in the hours I will put in. I am insane."

As it turned out, on Wall Street insanity is not an undesirable quality.

Dillian rose from green associate, checking IDs at the entrance to the trading floor in the paranoid days following 9/11, to become an integral part of Lehman's culture in its final years as the firm's head Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) trader. More than $1 trillion in wealth passed through his hands, but at the cost of an untold number of smashed telephones and tape dispensers. Over time, the exhilarating and explosively stressful job took its toll on him. The extreme highs and lows of the trading floor masked and exacerbated the symptoms of Dillian's undiagnosed bipolar and obsessive compulsive disorders, leading to a downward spiral that eventually landed him in a psychiatric ward.

Dillian put his life back together, returning to work healthier than ever before, but Lehman itself had seemingly gone mad, having made outrageous bets on commercial real estate, and was quickly headed for self-destruction.

 A raucous account of the final years of Lehman Brothers, from 9/11 at its World Financial Center offices through the firm's bankruptcy, including vivid portraits of trading-floor culture, the financial meltdown, and the company's ultimate collapse, Street Freak is a raw, visceral, and wholly original memoir of life inside the belly of the beast during the most tumultuous time in financial history. In his electrifying and fresh voice, Dillian takes readers on a wild ride through madness and back, both inside Lehman Brothers and himself.

He will be speaking today at the Union Square Barnes and Nobles at 6pm

BARNES & NOBLE
105 5th Avenue @ 18th Street
New York,NY
6:00PM

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  1. marion ds dreyfus on September 24, 2012 6:55 pm

    Finished the Vanity Fair cover story of Obama by Michael Lewis. It was finally a puff-piece, obvious in its delicate failure to address real issues, and obvious too in its elision of anything even vaguely confrontational. Instead, Lewis provided a high school yearbook’s snapshot of a clear idol, the which failed to advance our understanding of the man. His hypothesized “Day if you were not president” gave a fine example of the president’s obsessive narcissism. He imagines a day of solitude in the tunnels of Hawaii’s great waves, “6 or 7 good waves, 6 or 7 not good waves.” That, followed by a self satisfied brewski. A grotesque caricature of a strange, emotionally disconnected man on the pinnacle of opportunity. One finished this long mirror-polishing with dismay that not a breath of actual personality or character emerged in 3,000-odd words of ultimate self-adoration by both the writer and the written-about.

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