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Ugly Amerns [Hardcover]

Ben Mezrich
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 2004
Following his New York Times bestseller, Bringing Down the House, Mezrich tells another extraordinary true story of money, risk and life lived close to the edge. John Malcolm is barely 30, a high school football hero and Princeton graduate, he controls a hedge fund worth $50m. In the '90's dozens of elite young American graduates made millions in hedge funds in the far East, beating the Japanese at their own game, riding the crashing waves of the Asian markets and winning. Failure meant not only bankruptcy and disgrace a la Nick Leeson, but potentially even death - at the hands of the Japanese YakuzaUgly Americans tells Malcolm's story, and that of others like him, in a cross between Mezrich's own Bringing Down the House and Michael Lewis' Liar's Poker.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company; First Edition edition (May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 006057500X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060575007
  • Product Dimensions: 23.9 x 16.1 x 2.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,803,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Ben Mezrich is the internationally best-selling author of The Ugly Americans, Busting Vegas, Rigged and Bringing Down the House:The Inside Story of Six MIT Students Who Took Vegas for Millions; which was made into a film (21) starring Kevin Spacey. Ben Mezrich lives in Boston.

Product Description

Amazon Review

Ugly Americans documents the "Wild East" of the mid-1990s, where young, brilliant and hypercompetitive traders became "hedge fund cowboys", manipulating loopholes in an outdated and inefficient Asian financial system to rake in millions. Using a concept called arbitrage, they made their fortunes mainly on minute shifts in stocks being sold on the Nikkei, the Japanese stock market, collapsing banks and nearly bankrupting the Japanese economy in the process. Other schemes were also concocted, most of which were technically legal, though certainly unethical. This true story revolves around "John Malcolm", who, in exchange for anonymity, agreed to give Ben Mezrich all the access and information he needed to write this book. As a recent Princeton graduate in the mid-1990s, Malcolm accepted an undefined job offer from an American expatriate in Japan to work in the investments field. Though he had no prior experience, he facilitated 25 million dollars worth of trades on his first day on the job, and it just got more exciting from there. He soon joined a small group of expatriates, all in their 20s and mostly Ivy League graduates, who lived like rock stars, thriving on the stress and excitement of their jobs to create their own steroid versions of the American Dream half a world away.

Mezrich tells this riveting story well, incorporating elements of the culture into his narrative, including the infamous and pervasive Japanese "Water Trade", or sex business, romantic intrigue and even run-ins with the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia. Though there is little real analysis of their financial dealings and how they ultimately changed the rules of finance in Asia, this entertaining page turner does offer a glimpse into a world little explored in print until now. --Shawn Carkonen,


"The author of the compelling Bringing Down the House ... returns with another vivid true story ... Any movie shouldn't lack for colour" (GQ)

"When the movie rights to a novel are snapped up by Hollywood A-lister Kevin Spacey, you know its something special. And Ugly Americans most definitely is ... An incredible true story ... it's impossible not to be amazed and absorbed into this parallel universe where East meets West, gangsters meet cowboys and everyone is just an earthquake away from disaster" (Scottish Daily Record)

"The propulsive narrative fairly roars "guilty pleasure." Yet Ugly Americans is revelatory, a rush that leaves the reader reeling but reflective" (Philadelphia Inquirer)

"[Contains] all the ingredients of a great narrative - a main character the reader can relate to, an appealing love interest, money, danger, the need for acceptance, suspense ... In a truly engaging look at how an innocent who thinks he knows the world does actually end up understanding a small but significant piece of it, Mezrich manages to incorporate solid journalism into a narrative that just plain works" (Publisher's Weekly)

"A high-octane passion play pitting a young man's ambition against his sense of humanity" (Oregonian) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Truly gripping stuff, a great read. 7 May 2004
Having read most of the financial thrillers including Liars Poker, F.I.A.S.C.O, When Genuis Failed, and Rogue Trader i was captivated by this story, and read the whole thing non stop in about 5 hours!
Imaginatively written with technical terms clearly explained it is a must read for anyone interested in both finanical markets and individual traders state of mind and mentality. A textbook and thrilling novel mixed into one!
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Weak book 20 July 2005
The plot is distinctly thin, although nonetheless gripping. The trouble is, Mezrich just isn't a very good writer. He stretches out this book with the most cliched and redundant descriptive passages and the dialogue he includes is total cheese and I don't believe that the people he's describing really talk like that. If they do then they're really not worth glamourising. Also endless references to various characters Ivy League credentials wears thin quickly.
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4.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining read 30 Oct 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a pretty entertaining read accessible to anyone regardless of profession. There are very few references to finance that require any knowledge of the industry. You will not find any 'golden nuggets' here. Simple Index re-balancing trades and geographical arbitrage are pretty much the big trades of the book. The best part is the ambiance and the picture the book paints of the local culture in Asia and how that compares to the equivalent in the west - this for better or for worse has not changed much. One has to only look at the recent Mizuho bank scandal where they loaned money to the Yakuzza to see that. While it has parts to it that seem a little far fetched...makes a for a very entertaining fast paced book. Worth a read...and I hear there is a film in the making.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good Story 4 Jan 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have now read several Ben Mezrich novels and all are very entertaining.
This is no different and the story line grips you, not the longest book for perfect for a holiday!
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3.0 out of 5 stars Read this before? 22 Aug 2012
Cinderella story - Ivy league boy makes good in a non too straight environment - falls in love - lives happily ever after.

I've read 3 by this author and all very similar in plot.

On the plus side I enjoyed this but only because I was around on SIMEX when it all unfolded and "BASED on a true story" should be noted before reading.

A nice read to kill a few hours and he does recreate the atmosphere of the 90's Asian exchange well.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Finance for teenagers 27 Nov 2011
By Miks
I loved his first book, Bringing down the house, when I read it. After having read Ugly Americans I am afraid to re-read that book because this plot is really terrible. Ugly Americans are not only poorly written, as pointed out by other reviewers. What annoys me the most is the total lack of insight in financial and economical matters. The author seems do have done no research himself, just listened to some bragging stories and taken everything at face value (as it is supposed to be a true story).
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ferrari in Bermuda? 10 Jun 2008
This 'true' story fell down immediately for me when he describes the hedge fund trader based in Bermuda who has a ferrari.

Bermuda, an Island with a speed limit of 25mph, and restrictions on engine size as well as overall car size resulting in the fact there are no Ferraris in Bermuda.

Why make this up?
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, same story 31 May 2006
Having read "Bringing Down the House" I was quite excited to read "Ugly Americans" and I was a bit disappointed mainly because it is pretty much the same format. Ok, it's a different topic, but deep inside it has the same story. And I have to say it is not as fast paced as I thought. However, it gave me a good insight into the financial business, its life style and Japanese culture. The thing I like from Mezrich's books is that you end up thinking that the stories really happened (which although the author says it's a true story I certainly doubt that it happened). All in all and ok book, that will entertain you and won't take you too long to finish it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ugly Americans: Pretty good
I ordered this book having seen 21 the film. I was very impressed by the film and loved the idea of thrilling gambling intertwined in an unknown city. Read more
Published on 12 July 2009 by Mark Twain
4.0 out of 5 stars If you liked the real-life Rogue Trader story, this'll interest you
Some have likened this book to Mezrich's two books about gambling in Vegas and you can see why, although stocks and shares traders are rarely brought to life in the same way as... Read more
Published on 28 May 2008 by Born Again Bookworm
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read based on a real life derivatives gambler
Based in a world where people make vast fortunes from trading derivatives.

Generally a good read with a reasonable pace, it does however jump around a little which can... Read more
Published on 3 Jan 2008 by Mark T
4.0 out of 5 stars Great read!!!
I would recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in the Stock Market boom of the 80's. Fans of Oliver Stones Wallstreet will love this book. Read more
Published on 5 May 2006 by D. Doyle
5.0 out of 5 stars fast paced, fast money- you'll read this fast!
This book is addictive. You will not put this book down. I read it from 7pm to 4am in one sitting. Mezrich captures the world of asian finance and lets you smell the money in this... Read more
Published on 24 Feb 2006
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb
Simply superb book from a true master in the world of 'real life' thrillers! The pace is superb and the plot is absolutely unreal. Read more
Published on 19 Oct 2004
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