Imagine a life working on Wall Street for an investment firm making millions faster than you can say “stock broker” and spending it just as quickly without a care in the world, knowing you’ll make more in due time. Thus begins the autobiographical novel “The Wolf of Wall Street” by Jordan Belfort. Belfort is a Long Island stockbroker who gets caught up in the world of power and greed. The opulent life he lives with his trophy wife in his lavish mansion an hour outside the city soon falls to pieces ultimately due to corruption. The film adaptation will be released in November, however the novel is a page-turner and we can only hope that the movie does Belfort’s tale justice.
Belfort’s tale begins with his rise to power from day one at the Stratton Oakmont investment firm, and takes us through how the world of stockbrokers functions. Hotel bills by the hundreds of thousands of dollars, hookers and private jet planes to anywhere in the world are just mundane aspects of the Wall Street lifestyle. With a life full of scandal, drugs and wealth, Belfort could use his monetary power to make people do what he wanted when he wanted and evade anything that comes his way. However, even someone as sly as a wolf can’t get his way out of everything.
Reading “The Wolf of Wall Street” was quite the experience. Belfort’s descriptions of everything-from the boardroom’s everyday atmosphere to what his home is like with his beautiful wife (whom he refers to as the Duchess)-are beyond fathomable. Lunches at restaurants where the bill for a few people run into thousands of dollars to wristwatches that cost millions are part of everyday life for Belfort. He had such an obscene amount of money and was able to do whatever he wanted with it. I was astounded by everything he did and how carelessly he would go through money. And if the way he lived wasn’t crazy enough, his drug addiction was ridiculous. He goes into detail with how many pills he would take of certain drugs, and what lengths he would go to just to make sure he wouldn’t go through withdrawal.
Lord Acton one said, “power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Jordan Belfort’s life can justify Lord Acton, as he goes from partying all the time to doing time. In the midst of a ruined marriage, a drug addiction and a pump-and-dump scheme, Belfort’s wild life leads him into federal crime and debts off the charts.
Martin Scorsese took on the challenge of making Belfort’s autobiography a movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the scrupulous stockbroker along with Matthew McConaughey, Jonah Hill and Julie Andrews. I anticipate seeing the outcome, as I didn’t want to put the book down. I recommend “The Wolf of Wall Street” for anyone who wants a first-hand account of the criminal side of Wall Street, along with those looking for a good read. His tale epitomizes the highest highs and lowest lows you can go through in his position; everything is beyond excess in a way no one could make up. I was immediately captivated and couldn’t put his book down. “The Wolf of Wall Street” has definitely become one of my favorite books.