Reminiscences of a Stock Operator by Edwin Lefèvre seems to be a classic book about trading. It appears to be a biography of Jesse Livermore that was written nearly 100 years ago. I have not read it, mostly because of my highly negative impression of Jesse Livermore. Jesse Livermore gambled in bucket shops, used excessive margin for trading, took highly risky short positions, manipulated the commodities markets, went bankrupt three times in his life, etc. I am put off by all this. I am puzzled by the fact the book is widely recommended as a book about trading. I do not understand how such a person could be considered an inspiration for traders. How could the century-old biography of such a character be relevant to contemporary trading?

  • How was he shady? (Going bankrupt doesn't automatically make you shady.)
    – RonJohn
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 3:09
  • @RonJohn Sorry, I used the wrong word. I have removed it. (I wasn't referring to his three bankruptcies).
    – Flux
    Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 3:14
  • 2
    From a personal standpoint, I found the book absolutely fascinating for the way this gambler viewed the market, using the same terminology as naive 'traders' do today. The language of most smoky cryptocurrency forums today is just about identical to how he spoke about trying to 1-up those around him. Commented Jun 11, 2021 at 3:26

1 Answer 1


I do not understand how such a person could be considered an inspiration for traders.

Livermore's Wikipedia article gives some possible clues.

"In a time when accurate financial statements were rarely published, getting current stock quotes required a large operation, and market manipulation was rampant, Livermore used what is now known as technical analysis as the basis for his trades. His principles, including the effects of emotion on trading, continue to be studied."

"Some of Livermore's trades, such as taking short positions before the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and just before the Wall Street Crash of 1929, are legendary within investing circles. Some observers have regarded Livermore as the greatest trader who ever lived, but others have regarded his legacy as a cautionary tale about the risks of leverage to seek large gains rather than a strategy focused on smaller yet more consistent returns.[4]"

Thus, if you like to read biographies, it might be an interesting view into the past history of stock speculating.

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