The Complete Turtle Trader, by Michael W. Covel (Hardcover, 2007)|
(You can print this review in landscape mode, if you
want a hardcopy)
Mark Lamendola, author of over 6,000 articles.
This book tells the story of a great experiment by
a legendary trader. That trader was Richard Dennis, an unlikely champion
of the trading floor. Unlike the typical trader, Dennis didn't come from
a connected or privileged background. He grew up on the south side of
Chicago, an area noted for crime and poverty.
Yet, by age 25, Richard Dennis managed to earn $1
million in the market. By age 37, he'd made $200 million. Where did the
ability to do that come from? Was it genetic? He and his partner,
William Eckhardt, debated on this question. Eckhardt said it was
genetic, Dennis maintained it could be learned.
That debate led to the experiment that this book
is about. The experiment involved recruiting people from diverse
backgrounds, teaching them the system Dennis used, giving them
funds to invest, and seeing what would happen. The name "Turtles" came
about during a trip to Singapore. Richard Dennis was visiting a turtle
farm and remarked, "We are going to grow traders just like they grow
turtles in Singapore."
Though the Turtle experiment took place in the
early 1980s, the story hasn't really been told until now. It's an
interesting story in its own right: successful trader teaches other
trades how to make millions. But Covel's exhaustive research and the
resulting richness of detail take it to a level or two beyond that.
The Complete Turtle Trader contains
fourteen chapters. Here is a synopsis:
Chapters One and Two give you the background
required to understand why the experiment was so important. Chapter
Three talks about who the first Turtles were, and why those particular
people were hired. Chapters Four, Five, and Six explain the trading
method that the Turtles used. Chapter Seven reveals some deviations in
the experiment--for example, some Turtles were given far more funding
than others. And in Chapter Eight, the whole thing comes to an end.
What happens after the experiment? This is where
Chapter Nine picks up the story. The Turtles strike out on their own,
something which is a bit complicated for a variety of reasons Covel
explains. Dennis' ending of the experiment was a huge mistake for all
involved, but especially for himself. So, in Chapter Ten he gets back
into trading per his system. But in Chapter Eleven we see the Turtles
weren't sitting around waiting for Richard Dennis to return to "the
game." When he does return, he has to compete with the people he
Curtis Faith, who had received exceptionally
"special" treatment from Dennis as a Turtle and who was a media darling
because the editors didn't look at the whole story, failed after he was
on his own. Why he failed is
quite interesting, and Covel provides the background on that in Chapter
Thirteen provides a look at second generation Turtles. The final chapter
ties everything together and provides some thought-provoking insights.
The five Appendices provide a wealth of
additional information that would have slowed the narrative down but is
still worth reading in its own right. The first Appendix, for example,
tells us where the Turtles are now.
The Complete Turtle Trader is well-researched,
well-written, and hard to put down once you start reading it.