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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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I am always interested in other people's job and this seemed like a good way of learning about what it was like to be an insider in the financial world when everything went into meltdown. The author spent 14 months working in the macho world of the city broker while the latest financial crisis was brewing. She paints a compelling - but at the same time disgusting - picture of life in the financial fast lane. Lured into the world of the city by a friend she found it wasn't at all what she had expected and for someone who by her own admission is financially challenged it may not have been the best career move.

Her colleagues were almost exclusively male and I don't think I have ever read about such a macho, childish, bullying, hard drinking, hard living group of people as she portrays. She is thrown in at the deep end and almost left to sink or swim though The American - who she works for nominally - does help her when she starts and in the main he isn't as nasty as some of her colleagues though he is generally a pretty unpleasant workmate. Mainly if you make a mistake you are laughed at and there are many customs which are aimed at making people feel small if they do anything stupid - most of which seem more appropriate to a low standard primary school.

This is a world of excess where the brokers are expected to wine and dine their clients at the most expensive restaurants and clubs in London. The author herself rarely gets home before 3.00am when she is has to be up again at 5.45am. She gradually gets used to this and frequently goes into work with a hangover. She has one serious kidney infection and a near nervous breakdown during her 14 months in the city. Her colleagues are hard drinking, foul mouthed and frequently extremely intelligent. Everyone is high on adrenaline, amongst other things, and the author really conveys the excitement and thrills of the high octane work. I could see the attraction of it though I personally would have found it very difficult to cope with the language and the way everyone was treated. It is unsurprising that there are so many employment tribunal cases brought by ex-city workers.

This is a fascinating insight into the financial world and how everyone thought the days of excess and telephone number bonuses would continue forever. Unfortunately for everyone they woke up one morning to find the whole financial climate had changed. The author's own sparkling career came to an end when she wrote a satirical article for `The Spectator' exposing life as a city broker. She was fired for gross misconduct. I found the book compelling reading in a sort of `watching a train wreck' way and would recommend it to anyone who wants to know what it is like working in the city.
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on 8 April 2010
It's easy to make assumptions about a media-hyped 'expose' of a world such as finance, especially one from a hot young lady: Mean boys, mistreated, misunderstood, how did I cope, look at me, etc etc. But put them all aside. What Thompson has written here is shocking more for its honesty than in the antics of her colleagues and clients (though they are also chronicled with affectionate regard for their absurdity). She puts no-one up to more scrutiny than herself, points no fingers and assigns no blame, and asks no-one for their sympathy. The language is sparklingly intelligent and pithy, yet easy to read and burn through in one sitting (even though it meant staying up all night). You find yourself laughing/snorting at passages which in reality are quite disturbing, and then you worry you shouldn't have found someone's tragedy so amusing, but when she writes like this there's no escape.
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on 28 April 2010
I've just finished Gross Misconduct - rather quickly as I couldn't put it down. I'm fascinated by books detailing the excesses of the city. Thompson gave me this in spades but also something else I hadn't expected - a truly endearing personal insight. When I say endearing I don't mean she was a pussy cat at all times, but she was honest and self-deprecating about what she turned into. And she doesn't want our sympathy. She holds her hands up and says she often had the time of her life and let herself become a monster. Her narrative is compelling and I'm not surprised she is carving out a career as a writer given how naturally it seems to come to her. I thoroughly recommend this book.
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on 8 May 2010
I felt the book gave a good insight into life as a novice City Broker, horrific though it was.I imagine a number of readers would be offended by the constant use of the f and c words, although this did not bother me unduly. My recommendation would have to be that no one should read the book who does not have a strong stomach!
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on 23 April 2010
This is a great story, a real page-turner and a gripping read. It's got the same fast pace to it as the classic Liar's Poker (Michael Lewis), and it maintains an enthralling tension between the hilarious (and very visual) incidents that occur during Venetia's time in the City on the one hand, and the dark and insidious characters and events that ultimately bring her down (or liberate her?). The reader is drawn into the relentless and unforgiving machine that is the City, and I for one was certainly very relieved when our heroin gets spat out on the other side.

Don't be put off if you think this is something that will just appeal to people who work in the City. Like Liar's Poker, it's a great insight if you do, but the technical bits don't create a barrier, and there's hardly any jargon. Above all, it's a classic and inspiring story set against a backdrop of impending financial doom.

One of the things that stands this work apart from the wave of new books seeking to jump on the "bash the bankers" bandwagon (or otherwise to capitalise on the post-Lehman meltdown by explaining their part in causing it or their explanation for it - yawn, yawn, yawn), is that Venetia Thompson can actually write. Really well. You won't be bored reading this and the language skips easily along at a fast pace. From what I've read of some of the others, maybe their authors should go back to being bankers and stick to spreadsheets and graphs.

There are some epic characters in here - those you feel pity for, those you hate and those that do some crazy stuff. And whether or not they come across as heroes or villains (and some of them might well prefer the latter to further harden their City reputations), all of them have now been immortalised in text.
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on 29 March 2010
This is a well written, fast paced account of 14 months working in the male dominated bond market. Venetia's introduction to this world is some culture shock for her but she grabs it and runs with it, in spite of the extreme banter, and becomes accepted by the Essex men that she is surrounded by. Even accepting her nickname -Airbags! It is a very amusing account describing client entertainment in the restaurants and clubs drinking wines that one only dreams about. A roller coaster ride (not for the faint hearted!) full frontal exposee of the testosterone charged world of brokers and clients at work and play. Her writing grabs your attention to the extent that the book becomes difficult to put down.
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on 28 February 2012
Story of stupidity and excess , about endless champagne and sashimi in nobu , being able to buy the right shoes , swearing , strip clubs , being sick etc etc . This is not some debauched glorious account of a rock star , that makes you jealous and wish you could be there . This is a miserable story , its not clever , pretty or sexy . Its greeedy and binge drinking and I dont understand why Venetia did it for so long , why she allowed herself to act as she did , before she became ill and depressed . She stopped because she was pushed and I think there was a little about her that thought it was all rather clever . Venetia can write , so it stops it from being a horrid little book and becomes something that you should read and then take a cold shower afterwards . I dont know how true all the bond/ broker stuff is , as I skipped all the banking details , economics borred me at school and so I still never grasped the point of being a broker.
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on 18 June 2010
This book is to put it mildly an interesting read. Ms Thompson's slightly zany style might be a bit off-putting, but is probably appropriate. The picture she paints of city life is decidedly uncomfortable. Although the title "Gross Misconduct" ostensibly refers to the grounds for her dismissal from the firm she worked for, it could also be used to describe the activities of the employees of that firm. She pulls no punches and is quite explicit.

Well worth reading.
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on 13 November 2015
This is a horrible book to read - but everyone should read it! In fact I bought this copy for a friend who works in the "City".
It is full of the uglier side of life - swear words, promiscuity, unhealthy, alcoholic, drug fuelled, long hours of work lifestyle and easy-come money - though it also shows the commraderie of people working in the city. Having read it, my view of how the financial affairs of the world are run is coloured for ever.
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on 9 January 2016
The book is worth its price. As an academic, it holds important practical implications for social constructionist researchers because it perfectly combined imagination with reality in a manner that is useful to qualitative researchers. It is therefore a good recommendation for lecturers teaching qualitative research at the postgraduate level.
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