Daily Speculations

The Web Site of Victor Niederhoffer and Laurel Kenner

Dedicated to the scientific method, free markets, ballyhoo deflation, value creation and laughter. A forum for us to use our meager abilities to make the world of specinvestments a better place..

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Book Recommendations from Our Readers

A Book Re-recommendation, from Hany Saad:

I have been reading Trading and Exchanges: Market Microstructure for Practitioners, based on Victor's recommendation. A must read book. It is essential in the sense that it takes specs back to the basics which is very important once in awhile for any trader. Thanks for recommending it.

Book Recommendations, from Larry Williams

1. The Walking Drum, by Louis L'Amour. It is an amazing read, historical, philosophical and on point about the Moslem/Christian conflict.

2. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, by John Perkins. A terribly bothering book; terribly bothering--can this be true? I am afraid it is.

John Bollinger mentions:

I just read Larry's last recommendation, "Coming Out of the Ice". Courage in the face of incomprehensible adversity is the theme of this true story by Victor Herman. It is a amazing tale of an American caught in Stalin's Russia and is highly recommended for traders or anyone else who faces adversity

Ryan Carlson:

One book which has helped me understand and improve persevering through adversity is Deep Survival by Laurence Gonzales. The subtitle, "Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why," explains how the book draws many parallels between those market participants who succeed or fail when put into desperate situations.

My favorite lesson from the book is of a quick encounter the author had with a hang glider who was grounded due to potentially high winds. The veteran flier said, "I'd rather be on the ground wishing I was in the air than in the air wishing I was on the ground." That's my feeling on my markets lately!

Jason Humbert:

I rarely read books anymore for the same reason I rarely go to the movies, but I recently finished two that I think are well worth a read. First is The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, the second is The Psychology of Judgment and Decision Making by Scott Plous. Both are valuable additions to a trader's knowledge base.

George Zachar:

David Wells, The Penguin Book of Curious and Interesting Mathematics (Penguin Group, Sept. 1, 1997)

ISBN 0140236031

It's out of print and hard to get, but lots of fun -- an anthology of math anecdotes with quite a few philosophical morsels for traders. I'm holding on to my copy for my kids.

Tom Ryan:

The autobiography of Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901)

Diplomat, advisor to shogun and meiji emperor, was on board the first Japanese ship to visit US in 1860, its like getting front row seats to the drama of a fascinating time in Japan's history when you read this one excerpt:
"I am willing to admit my pride in this accomplishment for Japan. The facts are thus: it was not until the sixth year of Kaei (1853) that a steamship was seen in Japan for the first time; it was only in the second year of Ansei (1855) that we began to study navigation from the Dutch in Nagasaki; by 1860, the science was sufficiently understood to enable us to sail a ship across the Pacific. This means that after only 5 years of study and practice, the Japanese people made a trans-pacific crossing without help from foreign experts."

Gee where have we seen that before? Insert radio, TV, semiconductors, computers etc into the above statement, only the timing and context have changed.

Philosophy: an obscure but interesting memoir a la Nock or Adams
"The Nature of Belief, fixed ideas in post-industrial America" by B.K. Thurlow

"Part I, The legacy of Cabell

Reason is an unreliable guide to human action. To understand why people act as they do one must understand what they believe and how the process works. The way to learn this is not through rational analysis but by participation. Hypothesis can be analyzed because it is rational. Belief is not. It is mimetic, suggestible and stubborn, pragmatic and sublime, noble and depraved, immoral and moral. The differences between absolute and relative morality. Cabell, Socrates, the Judaeo-Christian tradition and Plato, all an introduction to the main topics raised in this book."

History: mentioned before, all of the stuff written by Allen Eckert, in particular his trio of books on the French and Indian War, its aftermath and the uprising led by Pontiac, and the expansion westward into Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana. "Wilderness Empire" is about the War with France and features New York state, George Croghan and William Johnson, the Iroquois, the Mohawks in particular "The Frontiersmen" is all about Kentucky, and features Simon Girty, as well as the Boones and others like Greathouse, Harrison who went on to be president, Tecumseh, the Miami's, the Shawnee the patterns of conflict and behavior are well documented, and the basic patterns that were formed at this time simply re-occurred over and over again as settlement moved west, only the names changed.

Docu-drama: I would be remiss if I didn't mention the books written by a friend of mine, Charles Bowden who I haven't mentioned here before but I had dinner with him friday night and was once again amazed at this guys zest for life and for margaritas. Word of warning however, CB's politics are a bit far left and some have classified his stuff as a book version of film noir a film genre which i am not particularly fond of. However his investigative journalism stuff is tour de force for the most part. The books he has written are all about the stuff going on down here on the border that get swept under the rug and does not wind up on CNN. Well the book on Juarez is not particularly uplifting but its the real deal, and unfortunately there is a lot of bad stuff going down around here these days. We will definitely have the highest body count ever this year on this side of the border. And just two weeks ago the feds swept in and arrested a number of the local militia boys, ostensibly for firearm violations again, although the rumor is that they might have been out shoot'n more than coffee cans. And every week we seem to have a van packed full of illegals tip over on the freeway killing most on board. Did I mention the drug smuggling yet? Anyway "Mescal", "Red Line", are good and "Down by the River", well CB was the only journalist with any guts to actually try to investigate the Jordan murder. And he was writing about Charlie Keating long before his arrest. Actually I am a bit surprised CB is still with us. This isn't the Hollywood version of life on the border with Johnny Depp or Denzel, its the real deal. I no longer hike Miller Peak or Cienega Creek because it's doubtful my truck would be there at the trailhead when i returned at the end of the day. As the joke goes around here "this aint yer father's Arizona". On a side note, some of the surveillance cameras have caught pictures of adult jaguars here in southern Arizona, two different ones. They must be sneaking in from the Sierra Madre along with the coyotes and the backpack boys.

While I lived in montana I discovered some interesting native writers up there, Mary Clearman Blew, Ivan Doig, Richard Demarinis, William Kittridge. At the risk of being lampooned I do like some of Jim Harrison's novels, Sundog, Dalva, The Woman Lit by Fireflies.

Doesn't the existence of these midget people they recently reported finding in Indonesia make Steven Goulds ideas look better? I still like "Full House the Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin" and of course Dawkins. and "Voyage of the Beagle" and Ridley's stuff and....

Just diving into the Univ. of Oklahoma Press catalog. You can look it up on the web. "Soldier Surgeon Scholar" looks interesting. "Under Cover for Wells Fargo" - don't buy that because that I am giving out for presents to some of you this year.

I had no idea Reagan wrote so many letters until I read "Reagan, A Life in Letters"
Oh, you want books on speculating.

Pam Van Giessen:

The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt and Theodore Rex by Edmund Morris. Whatever one thinks of Morris, he did an awesome job in providing a detailed biography of TR’s political history through his 2nd term. Great insight into the times as well.

The Professor and the Madman, Simon Winchester. I finally got around to reading this interesting history into the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. A good argument that even the craziest among us can contribute things of great value to society and history if they have a job.

Rage for Fame: The Ascent of Clare Boothe Luce by Sylvia Jukes Morris (yeah, wife of guy above). Whatever one thinks of Luce, she was a character and Morris tells her story warts and all.

Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph Churchill by Ralph Martin. For those interested in the women behind great men.

And on the fiction front – The Lemon Jelly Cake by Madeline Babcock Smith. While not everyone’s cup of tea, one of the most delightful novels I’ve read in a long time was originally published in 1952. It is pure corn but of the most delicious kind about a small town in central Illinois circa 1900 where affairs and whatnot run rampant. Told through the eyes of a young girl, it is charmingly romantic and touchingly amusing.

Brian Haag:

Since I do less and less options trading these days, and more and more quantitative directional, I'll throw these out:

- Our own LW's "Long Term Secrets to Short Term Trading"

- Thomas Stridsman, "Trading Systems That Work"

- Mark Boucher, "The Hedge Fund Edge"

- Tushar Chande, "Beyond Technical Analysis"

I'm not really endorsing these, but they've all contributed greatly to my knowledge (although sometimes I'm not sure the authors even know what they're saying).
Fiction: was just given Pynchon's "The Crying of Lot 49", and loving it.

Nigel Davies:

I don't read much fiction, but here's 4 investment and 4 chess picks:
Education of a Speculator (Niederhoffer)
Practical Speculation (Kenner & Niederhoffer)
Secrets of Professional Turf Betting (Bacon)
Triumph of the Optimists (Dimson, Marsh, Staunton)

Lasker's Manual of Chess (Lasker)
Bent Larsen's Best Games of Chess (Larsen
Zoom 001: Zero Hour to the Operation of Opening Models
(Zeuthen and Larsen)
My Best Games (vols 1 & 2) (Korchnoi)

More Book Recommendations!