By David Denby

During this Bracingly sincere, Page-Turning Memoir, what starts off as a manic funds chase-desperate to hold directly to his domestic after his marriage breaks up. David Denby realizes he can purchase out his wife's percentage provided that he can first make a killing within the inventory market-ultimately turns into an unforgettable come across with such everlasting matters as envy, love, loss of life, sanity, and happiness. American Sucker is a singularly compelling story of the high-tech bubble similar no longer by way of a industry guru or an funding expert yet via a witty, perceptive, and eloquent outsider.

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Tall, forty-fivish, with wire-frame glasses and a full head of curling gray hair, Walsh, who had a background in advertising and cable TV, spoke in a tumultuous rush. This man was not a babbling brook, he was a torrent of claims, boasts, 45 4132 American Sucker 11/6/03 11:23 AM Page 46 promises, visions. His company, VerticalNet, establishes separate Web sites, or separate vertical portals — Walsh calls them “vortals” — for such unglamorous industries as poultry processing or waste management. com.

41 4132 American Sucker 11/6/03 11:23 AM Page 42 I knew the story well. The rarified taste for these flowers became a marketable commodity, and in the fall of every year, a kind of “futures” mania developed. , taverns) and traded contracts for the bulbs that would emerge in spring. A mortgaged farm for a few bulbs! Eager to trade, some of the buyers delayed payment, offering as “collateral” stock which they had paid for only in part. The trades were sealed with wine. Madness! , speculation. For, of course, money, not flowers, became the point for many people.

But how dangerous was it? Internet Capital Group was a speculative play, but the others were great companies essential to the growth of their industries. They made hardware or system software; they were not Internet retail sites selling, for $7,500 a shot, designer dresses that no woman could try on. One had to keep making moves. I was sure of it, because I had not moved in the past. I brooded over my story, my blunder. It is the primal scene, the type of wound that almost everyone carries around during a boom period.

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