5 Star Review
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Editorial Book Review:
by Michael Beas
"Life in the Pits: My Time as a Trader on the Rough-and-Tumble Exchange Floors" by Brad Schaeffer is an engrossing biography that transports readers to the wild and crazy world of open outcry trading pits in the late 1980s into the early 1990s. A front-row ticket to the adrenaline-fueled pandemonium that defined this bygone age, Schaeffer's personal story of his transformation from a failed artist to a seasoned trader on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange is both instructive and hilarious.
Schaeffer's life took a sudden turn in 1989 when his brother, a trader, invited him to the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. This invitation signaled the start of an incredible trip that is described in detail in "Life in the Pits." Open outcry trading pits were colorful theaters of raw capitalism, complete with colorful people, frantic hand signals, and stacks of money changing hands at breakneck speed. Schaeffer's account perfectly portrays the essence of those turbulent times.
Schaeffer's writing is full with humor, giving readers a delightful and frequently hilarious look into the close friendship that exists between fierce rivals. A wealth of anecdotes are woven together by the author's astute observations of the trading process, noteworthy events, and the larger-than-life characters that frequented the pits. The story does a very good job of capturing the intensity of the scene, where traders were yelling, thrashing their arms, and dancing riskily, all of which characterized their everyday lives.
LIke "Liar's Poker" and "Reminiscences of a Stock Operator," "Life in the Pits" is a classic that goes beyond its genre to provide pearls of knowledge about profitable trading. By condensing the guidelines that traders must abide by in the harsh realm of open outcry, Schaeffer offers insightful information about the attitude needed to succeed in such a demanding setting.
The book's ability to take readers back in time and immerse them in the mosh pits of financial trading is one of its strongest points. Anyone interested in trading tactics, the inner workings of high-stakes, high-stress environments, or the dynamics of financial markets should read Schaeffer's book because of her readable and compelling style.
Schaeffer's report is further validated by the endorsement of J. Robert Collins Jr., the former President of the New York Mercantile Exchange. Collins's praise, which highlights "Life in the Pits" as a valuable addition to the collection of business literature, emphasizes the book's blend of humor and insights.
To sum up, Brad Schaeffer's "Life in the Pits" captures the essence of a bygone period in financial history and is an engrossing and easy readable read. This memoir presents a captivating story that lingers long after the last page is read, regardless of whether you are an avid trader, a business enthusiast, or just someone looking for an enjoyable excursion through the center of trading turmoil. Strongly recommended for its unique blend of wisdom, humor, and sentimental contemplation on a special period in the financial industry.
About the Author
Brad Schaffer was born in Baltimore, MD but grew up in a suburb of Chicago. After attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, he lived in Chicago where he embarked on his dual career as both a commodities trader and author/novelist. He currently resides in New Jersey.
His prolific and eclectic writing can be found in the pages of the Wall Street Journal, New York Daily News, National Review, Daily Wire, and other well-read publications. His interests as reflected in his articles encompass a wide swath from business, to science, education, the arts, history, politics, social issues, and general day-to-day living. He is also an accomplished guitarist and pianist and can be found playing in local New Jersey clubs with one of several rock bands in which he has played over the years.
He is the author of two novels "Of Another Time And Place" (2018) takes place in World War II Europe. It is a study of the conflicts that good men confront when compelled through national loyalty and indoctrination to fight for morally reprehensible causes. "The Extraordinary" (2021), deftly tackles two sensitive subject matters, autism and PTSD, and the impacts they have on not just those who have these conditions but also the families who support those they love while trying to cope with the stresses they induce.