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Book Review: Way of the Turtle by Curtis M. Faith

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Jul 25, 2007
Book Review: Way of the Turtle by Curtis M. Faith

Apparently, there was an interesting “experiment†begun in 1983 that resulted from a wager between two successful commodities traders, Richard Dennis and William Eckhardt, regarding nature vs nurture. Dennis felt that ordinary people could be taught to trade successfully using the techniques that he had used to become successful while Eckhardt felt that traders were born not made. So, they devised an experiment where they placed an ad in the paper, screened many individuals, and picked 23 people, training them over 2 weeks time. Faith was 19 years old and ended up turning $2 million (Dennis bankrolled) into $30 million in just over 4 years. The group was known as the “Turtles†and this book tells their secrets.

The introduction tells about how the author becomes involved by answering an ad in the paper. It is a neat little story. From there, he goes on to discuss some generalities of the market. Chapter 1 discusses risk and that traders trade risk. Companies will hedge costs and traders will take on some of this risk with the hope of profiting from it. Chapter 2 discusses human emotion in the market and the biases that can affect one’s ability to trade.

Chapter 3 gets back to the Turtles and sums up the two week training session in 4 main points:
1. Trade with an edge: this means you want some system that you would expect to generate gains over the long term. Not every trade will be profitable but the gains will outweigh the losses.
2. Manage risk: live to trade another day
3. Be consistent: stick to your plan
4. Keep it simple
Curtis goes on to discuss some of his trades and that at the end of a month trial period, he received $2 million with which to trade.

The rest of the book goes on to talk about such concepts as thinking in terms of probabilities, cutting losses short, expectancy and position sizing.

Overall I thought it was a very good book. I had difficulty putting it down. If you don’t care for trading, however, you may not enjoy it as much. It gets into some mathematics but more in general terms and not highly technical. It is not a “how-to†book in that it doesn’t tell you how to trade but encourages you to develop a system and then use that system with a certain mindset.

I would give the book a score of 4.2 out of 5.

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