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on 16 June 2014
This is a superb book. Initially I was skeptical in the first few pages. But as pages rolled by, it was very exciting, funny and informative. I was in awe of derivatives and traders earlier. Now I know it is all farce, wherein everyone is in it for short term and no one is concerned about sustainable profits. Hats off to Mr. Das for boldly coming out and exposing that the emperor called quantitative finance has no clothes.

Highly recommended to anyone who wants to learn about the basics of derivatives and their history as well.
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on 27 September 2013
Perhaps it was my misconceived preconceptions but the title of this book perhaps suggests a lighter read than it turned out to be. Instead of anecdotes about the rock and roll lives on derivative traders, this book largely succeeds at helping the reader to understand a broad array of complex financial instruments, and some of the recent notable outcomes of their use and misuse.

Where this book excels is in building complexity in line with the chronological retelling of important events, i.e. early on we're introduced to some specific interest rate swaps in the 80s and about 300 pages later we're discussing collateralised debt obligation and their role in the financial meltdown of 2008. This steady pace worked well, even if I was lost at time in some of the details of these complicated instruments.

For those with no financial education, such as myself, it's easy to fall behind by not understanding a concise definition of some derivative and once you do miss something it's not really redefined. Maybe a second reading will help me pick up the things I've missed, but parts of this book are certainly not an easy read and require real concentration. My main criticism would be that the author considers a paragraph explanation sufficient for that concept to be understood throughout the rest of the text.

Criticisms aside, I enjoyed reading this book and it is packed full of thorough explanations and real world examples (possibly too full!).
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