Reminiscences of a Stock Operator Video Review

I have two versions of Reminiscences of a Stock Operator (Illustrated), and I’ve read and re-read it more than a dozen times over the last 20 years.

For all the book’s wisdom, I’ve begun to wonder if Jesse Livermore is more Madoff or Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr. than a hero to the trading community. All of the aforementioned are known market manipulators and as men, were less than scrupulous. Kennedy took a stroke and eventually died of natural causes, Livermore killed himself, and Madoff should.

I rather recommend you follow in the footsteps of an unknown trader who remained emotionally stable, produced consistent annual returns, and acted within the best ethical practices of the day. You have the letter of the law and the spirit of the law, and there’s a big difference spiritually between the two.

What are your thoughts? Do you forgive Livermore all his demons and poor choices? Do you really want to trade like Jesse Livermore? Email me in confidence if you want and we’ll get a discussion going on this.


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Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • jbr

    Agree wholeheartedly! Too much idolizing of Jesse Livermore – which is misguided.

  • Guest

    Is that Che Guevara on shirt? Come on Michael.

  • Anonymous

    No MC, it’s Ayn Rand if you look close…don’t be a hater.

  • am

    I’m sure there are those that idolize him for the wrong reasons but there is a lot, lot more to be learned from Jesse than someone with a more stable emotional constitution who produces consistent annual returns.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, I agree. You can learn “what not to do.”

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  • Chris

    Admiring Livermore’s trading philosophy and admiring Livermore the person are different things, but I don’t think many differentiate.

  • Anonymous

    Well said! And my take on the whole thing is that one might consider
    doing so, especially if they are emerging prop traders or CTAs.

  • Bob

    I read the book once and really enjoyed it. It was like reading a good western where you have gun slinging cowboys and loose rules. In all reality I knew that when I picked up the book that it was a second hand account of his life and as such, probably a certain percentage of the book is fiction anyway. He just didn’t have any balance to his life; it was all about playing the trading game.

  • Anonymous

    Right. Hard to figure which part was fictionalized. Thanks for writing.

  • Michael T


    First off, I would like to sincerely congratulate you on your success, especially on Martinkronicle. I’ve read every post and continue to remain a loyal fan.
    As far as Livermore is concerned, I’ve learned to appreciate him in a couple of ways. One way is his ability to learn from his personal observations, take notes, and have the courage of his own convictions; the man definitely had balls. The other thing I like about him is his ability to never give up in what he loved doing despite his occasional, albeit huge setbacks.
    As far as seeing Livermore as a role model for trading…I don’t think he would be a healthy choice for traders due to his self-destructive personality and his non-ability to stick to a sound betting strategy. I can see how readers of Lefevre’s book could get overly excited at how much money he was making trading stocks, try to replicate, and end up making some bad decisions; I know I did. It’s definitely not “the bible” of trading everyone says or thinks it is. I think it would be more productive if traders considered reading it many times, each time with a different perspective; you can learn something from every character in the story. It’s a very well written and entertaining book and I think everyone should read it if possible, at least for the lessons on human nature, whether a trader or not.
    Jesse’s personal life? Having three wives (which is 3 too many), an STD, and committing suicide is not what I consider role model material.

  • Yan_joseph

    i read the book once. I thought the reader needs to separate the good and bad things of Jesse Livermore. The reader should not idolize livermore’s personal life, but they should follow some of livermore’s methods into trading.

  • Jason, England

    Firstly thanks for your closing comments on the ‘Broke’ Michael Covel video I just watched, very simple and inspiring! I agree with both yours and the other comments on here that although the book is entertaining his trading is somewhat’ James Bondesque’ and is certainly not how I would like to model my trading. I think Larry Hite, Salem Abraham or Tony Crabel are the kind of blend I am after. Controlled risk, psychologically balanced and systems that are logical is how I see my goals as a trader.

  • Anonymous

    sometimes stupidity is on the other side of evil. Bernie Madoff’s
    victims should have done much more due diligence. I don’t think the
    marketplace is inherently evil by any means.

    Livermore was bankrupt before the SEC was founded.

  • Santiago Mejia


    I would like to start out that I appreciate your website as it is a great place to learn about trading. On Mr. Livermore I have read Reminiscences of a Stock Operator many times and I believe that he is a hero. I mean he lived the American dream where he started off with nothing and became a self made man and one of the greatest traders ever. The thing that many do not get in this book or his own book that he wrote he does go broke but he never has to work for someone else and was able to pick himself back up and make his fortune again. I mean this guy lived for trading. I don’t believe he is a Madoff as he did not trade other peoples money, he only traded for himself. I have been going in and out of the stock market for 10 years now and every emotion and every bone headed trade I’ve experienced Mr. Livermore has written about. I believe if anyone who is trading or thinks about trading should read this book as this was a great trader. He did have issues but who doesn’t but the bottom line we are hear for trading and not for emotional advice and as a pure trader this guy was able to beat the bucket shops enough to get banned by them and was branded the great bear of wall street. Jesse Livermore was the living embodiment of what every trader wants to be without the emotional issues and that you can get help with now but as a pure trader this guy is a hero of mine. Only my 2 cents.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for writing. I don’t discern between the person and how they trade.