The Wolf of Wall Street
by Jordan Belfort
Summary from Goodreads
By day he made thousands of dollars a minute. By night he spent it as fast as he could, on drugs, sex, and international globe-trotting. From the binge that sunk a 170-foot motor yacht, crashed a Gulfstream jet, and ran up a $700,000 hotel tab, to the wife and kids who waited for him for at home, and the fast-talking, hard-partying young stockbrokers who called him king and did his bidding, here, in his own inimitable words, is the story of the ill-fated genius they called…
THE WOLF OF WALL STREET
In the 1990s Jordan Belfort, former kingpin of the notorious investment firm Stratton Oakmont, became one of the most infamous names in American finance: a brilliant, conniving stock-chopper who led his merry mob on a wild ride out of the canyons of Wall Street and into a massive office on Long Island. Now, in this astounding and hilarious tell-all autobiography, Belfort narrates a story of greed, power, and excess no one could invent–the story of an ordinary guy who went from hustling Italian ices at sixteen to making hundreds of millions. Until it all came crashing down.
Why I Chose the Book
I wanted to read the book before watching the movie, but I cracked. The movie was interesting, a glimpse into a foreign world of endless money, drugs, and prostitutes. It was so foreign, I thought it had to be exaggerated but the look boyfriend gave me when I voiced that opinion had me beet red.
Jordan starts by saying that he wants a chance to tell his story. At the time of writing the book, he’s been out of the brokerage business and off drugs–no longer The Wolf of Wallstreet. Jordan is a father of two who takes his kids to soccer games and he knows he’ll need to explain his past to them. This was not in the movie and it colored the way I read the book.
The audio book is just over 20 hours long. Until I bought The Way of Shadows, it was the longest book in my account. I was surprised that it didn’t feel that long. The first 2/3 didn’t feel any longer than the movie. It was nearly verbatim in many areas, with only one scene changed for Hollywood.
Why on God’s green earth would you want your kids to know that you “fucked” your wife “bent over the sink” in the bathroom, “thrusting into her without any lube,” in exchange for a pony. I can only imagine the conversation. “Chandler, you know that pony you love so much. You can thank your mom for that. She doesn’t usually like it when I’m high, but we came to an arrangement.” There are some details of your life that your kids just don’t need to know!
I was also perturbed by how Naomi, “Duchess of Bay Ridge” was described. Jordan describes his first wife, with whom he had no children, as a good person, sweet, loyal. His second wife, mother of his children, is only described as a beauty with long legs and irresistible loins. Even when he says he misses her, he loves her, he never talks about her personality. Actually, I take it back. He does say she is a good mother, very protective and loving towards her children. Still, the overall message was that all she had to offer was physical beauty. What message does that send to the children, especially when Chandler is described as looking “just like her mother”?
The rest of the book was captivating. I knew most of what would happen and how it would end because I’d watched the movie, but reading it through the eyes of a kid learning these things about her father gave it a new twist. The last third added quite a bit that was not in the movie.
It was also an interesting glance into the mind of a drug addict. I just happened to be reading The Wolf of Wallstreet while also watching Breaking Bad. It’s amazing to hear the rationalizations. Though the movie touched on Jordan’s back pain, the book explains it much better. I found myself calling him the House of Wallstreet–high on painkillers trying to rid himself of chronic pain, but in the boardroom instead of a hospital.
Random note, he changed the names of certain people in the book, understandably. But then the movie changed the names of the aunt and his daughter from what’s in the book. I found that incredibly odd.
I watched the movie again after finishing the book and realized they drastically changed the ending of the movie. The last third hardly lines up at all, but both the book and movie were both interesting.
Do I recommend it? Not really. If you like memoirs, read it. If you don’t, don’t. I enjoyed it but there’s nothing about it that would make me bring it up in conversation. I suppose if you liked the movie, you’ll enjoy the book as well. I do not recommend the audio book. The story is great, but the narrator cannot do a convincing female. It was screechy and obnoxious.
4 out of 5 stars
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