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Publisher's Summary

In My Life as a Quant, Emanuel Derman relives his exciting journey as one of the first high-energy particle physicists to migrate to Wall Street. Derman details his adventures in this field, analyzing the incompatible personas of traders and quants, and discussing the dissimilar nature of knowledge in physics and finance. Throughout this tale, he also reflects on the appropriate way to apply the refined methods of physics to the hurly-burly world of markets.

©2004 Emanuel Derman (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

Critic Reviews

"That sense of being an intruder in outlaw territory lends an intriguing mood to Derman's My Life As a Quant, a literate and entertaining memoir." (BusinessWeek)
"Who should read this book? Anyone with a serious interest in finance and everyone who simply wants to enjoy a good read." (Stephen Ross, Franco Modigliani Professor of Finance and Economics, Sloan School, MIT)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Justin
  • Bakersfield, CA, United States
  • 02-16-11

Thoroughly Enjoyed It

This was one of those books that I could not wait to listen to. I was intrigued by the title but skeptical on the information and entertainment value; however I found myself pleasantly surprised. Derman's book had a way about it that drew me in and broadened my view of Quantitative Research. It is always nice to get a different view on finance and this provides just that, a view where money is not the first priority and there are people who actually work for the love of their field

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Too winded and too long

Well, the title should be: My life as a Student of Physics, Quantum Physics, Lecturer, and then a Quant.
Its that long and winded.
For the first 2 1/2 hours, the book is all about how the author grew up, what subjects he studied in Cape Town high school, how Oxford and Philadelphia are different.. i mean am not surprised he didn't mention how he celebrated each christmas, what was the color of each gift wrapping, etc.
A suggestion to the author: Please read the book: "The Quants" or "Conspiracy of Fools". Your book title should not be misleading.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Weltanschauung of a Quant

Be alert to the first two words in the title. This is very much a memoir, with an air of alienated questing that verges at times on The Sorrows of Young Werther. Yet it isn???t is bad as it might be. The author is a good writer and the historical vector he follows from physics to Wall Street is interesting and pertinent. Unfortunately, it was written before 2008, so ironies are rife. In the opening chapter, the author mentions the abhorrence many people felt in the 1970s for physicists as a result of their weapons research. After 2008, the same abhorrence can be reasonably directed toward physicists in finance, eagerly elaborating the Black-Scholes model to develop what Buffet famously dubbed their ???financial weapons of mass destruction.??? Describing his fitful career moves the author often uses the phrase ???I was na??ve,??? and the reader can heartily agree. I had hoped that a physicist with wide ranging interests might be able to offer an intelligent outsider critique of finance. But the author is far too grateful to Wall Street, it seems, to nip the hand that fed him. (This could be one of the last books in the nation dotted with accolades for Goldman Sachs.) The books offers very little in the way of investigative reporting, confession, inside dope, or the deeper social implications of quantitative finance. In other words, be alert the last two words in the title as well. This is indeed the Weltanschauung of a Quant. Few Michael Lewis-type cynical insights. As later chapters descend into hot and heavy volatility modeling, things get opaque and nerdy fast. This is not the outsider critique I???d hoped for. Hence three stars. But it is well written and tracks an interesting path through recent social history. In the end, I actually found the rather dark narrative of graduate school physics in the 1970s to be the most appealing part.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Inon
  • redbank NJ USA
  • 11-17-13

a life that covers two fields of intrest

Where does My Life as a Quant rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

i loved this book. as a kid who loved physics and wanted to be an astronomer, but ended as a cpa with a MBA in finance, this book covers both aspects of intrest for me. The author met the stars of both fields and worked with them.<br/>

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Do not bother!!!!

It is not surprising that this self-centered egotistical selfish prick found a home on Wall Street. Don't bother purchasing unless you like reading self indulgent trash.

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Enough Detail to Really Make You Feel It

This book is much more an "idiot's guide to financial engineering" and I felt right at home listening to it. The awesome part about this book is the amount of time Emanuel takes in explaining the pricing of options. And like any good teacher he covers the important points more than once. I actually feel conversant in these topics now! The author's story is entertaining but the real hook here is the fact that is you can keep up with the author, you ar e going to sound a LOT smarter around the water cooler.

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A must read for late bloomers.

A must read for a late bloomer like me, who can't seem to decide which field to focus on in early career life. Loved the book.

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One of best books ever read

I'm biased because Im a quant but I assume it's most likely quants considering reading this book... Fantastic first hand accounts in perspective of the history of quantitative finance in academia and practice. Good balance of mathematical usage and layman explanations. Likely the most eloquent and well articulated book I have ever read. Derman is a very humble and knowledgeable expert. He exemplifies balancing the responsibilities of work and making a living with the quest for engaging in one's passion. Bravo!

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Boring narration, mediocre story

For some people, this man's story might excite you. But I felt like his story was a typical quant story and maybe even a slightly depressing one. Most of the time he only complains about his life. How miserable he was doing his phd, working at bell labs, working at quant jobs. Overall you get a sense like he just settled for a mediocre life as an employee. But he doesn't like to think of it that way. He would rather think if it as becoming more "mature" and "pragmatic". The narration is also very boring and devoid of any passion. The physics concepts were interesting and I got a better understanding what a quant is. But I wouldn't say he had a great life.

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  • DL
  • 07-05-16

Liked the story

The first part of the book was very interesting (academic part of his life).

The second half was a less interesting. Toward the end the charts referred to, were lost while listening to the book. It would be nice to have a pdf so I could look at the models discussed. Having the visuals may have made it a bit more impactful.

If you enjoy mathematics or physics this is a good book. If you are just a finance focused individual this may be a to long and dry.

I would recommend getting a copy of the book or a copy of the charts he refers to (unless you can visualize really well) to make the most out of his explanations in the later chapters of the book.

Overall I liked the story

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  • Judy Corstjens
  • 04-03-16

Quirky but thoughtful

This is quite an odd book, difficult to categorise or recommend. I was attracted to it because I wanted to understand more about the models used on Wall Street, and it did deliver on that dimension. However, the book is more a memoir than anything else and Derman's story is as much (or more) about his earlier life as a physicist as it is about finance. On the one hand, you could ask, 'Why should I be interested in the life of this random guy?', but, on the other, you have the simple fact that I was. He is, in many ways, highly reminiscent of Sheldon Cooper - the physicist in 'The Big Bang Theory' TV sit com, and I always had sympathy with that character too. But here, without the gags, Sheldon/Derman explains why particle physics is so attractive, and why physicist who understand (or are trying to understand) everything in the universe, tend to look down on other people. Sometimes Derman feels a bit sorry for himself, with his struggle to get a permanent academic post in Physics, or being lonely in a new, alien town, and it is interesting to see how this (clearly very bright) person thinks his way through his various troubles.
On the finance side Derman does indeed give good, understandable explanations of how the Black-Scholes options pricing model is used by Goldman Sacks and their ilk. I do understand this better now. In brief, it adds no value at all to the world, but allows banks to create casino's where they can sell almost any type of bet you (i.e. another bank) want to make to 'hedge' your risks. The models help them price all the bets correctly so that they (GS) will not lose money in any of the possible scenarios that actually unfold. Well, unless a really odd scenario that they didn't calculate for unfolds. After all, the model is based on some rather unrealistic assumptions - smooth diffusion of prices and nice thin tails - and not allowing for jumpy share prices or far-out events in 'fat tails', might lead to unforeseen problems. This book was written in 2004 when all was pretty hunky dory in the world of financial models and value at risk etc. I'm now keen to read the sequel 'Models. Behaving. Badly.'

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Lal-Akash
  • 05-07-11

Excellent reading

Not just any quant he was an important player. I later realised I had been reading his papers and have seen references to his work in mainstream books. I was also a physicist and now work in a bank so perhaps it is more relevant for me than most.

The book is very well written and well read. The content was interesting to me. E.g. Interesting how such a successful and bright individual was made redundant when in the wrong environment.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Calum I. MacLeod
  • 09-27-17

A Personal Journey

This book gives a background to what life is like working in academia, then industry, then finance. if you are interested in quantitative finance itself, then you can skip until the penultimate chapter.

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  • Dubai_Paul
  • 07-29-17

was hoping to learn some technical and financial

very personal all about his life and feelings. Im not really interested in biography I was hoping to learn what techniques he bought to the game.

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  • Vauxhall Hoosier
  • 04-23-14

Un-listenable robotic voice

What would have made My Life as a Quant better?

A human reader.

Would you ever listen to anything by Emanuel Derman again?

Possibly

Would you be willing to try another one of Peter Ganim’s performances?

No. Perhaps it's fitting that a book about quantitative finance is read by a computer, but the irritating intonation and lack of comprehension in the reading make for a completely un-listenable audio book.

What character would you cut from My Life as a Quant?

Peter Gamin.

Any additional comments?

Asked for my money back.