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Book Review: Ruthless by Phil Trupp Is Informative, Inspirational and a MUST READ

Posted by Larry Doyle on September 12, 2010 11:24 AM |

From despair may come opportunity but, as Phil Trupp’s Ruthless so cogently details, from despair can also come real inspiration.

The trying times that have resulted from our economic crisis have generated the opportunity for many analysts, bloggers, authors, and publishers to produce works which would help people truly understand the fundamentals of our economic crisis and how they developed. All too often, I have seen these works try to go inside Wall Street and disect the inner workings of our financial architecture. Regrettably, all too often, these works merely look to expose or excoriate those within our financial industry while they do not truly educate investors and American citizens at large. While some of the works are somewhat enlightening, I had yet to read or witness a body of work that connects the massive failings on Wall Street to the personal lives of those on Main Street. Until now.

If you read only one book on this period in our nation’s financial history, then make sure it is Ruthless authored by Phil Trupp and published by John Wiley and Sons Incorporated. Why do I so strongly recommend Ruthless? For so many reasons, but ultimately because Phil Trupp touches the soul and spirit of everyday Americans and provides real inspiration for all of us as we collectively move forward and navigate our economic landscape.

As an overview, Ruthless: How Enraged Investors Reclaimed Their Investments and Beat Wall Street is a detailed review of the financial travesty encompassing the heretofore arcane world of auction-rate securities. The ARS market was a seemingly vibrant means of financing for a wide array of entities but in hindsight the manner in which the ARS market developed, grew, and operated was nothing short of Wall Street’s greatest scam. How large was the ARS scam?

Phil details that this scam entangled close to 150,000 investors with $330 billion in what were supposed to be safe, cash equivalent investments. Ponder those figures for a second. I would venture to say that everybody reading this review likely knows at least one individual impacted by this scam.  The fact that, to a large extent, the ARS scam remains a great mystery and unknown fraud by so many within our country is not a statement on the financial literacy of our populace. Rather, the limited coverage of this fraud is much more a massive indictment — with a few noted exceptions — of those leading our financial firms, the regulators charged with protecting investors, our political operatives, and the media. Phil Trupp clearly and concisely makes this case against each of these entities with extensive and personal detail. Riveting? You will not be able to put this book down.

As I read Ruthless, I was often struck by the fact that this material and the story at large would make for a great feature film. While many of the financial capers which have been captured on the big screen embellish and exaggerate the gross excesses of the monied elite, Ruthless is ultimately about the personal lives of the thousands of everyday Americans, including the author, whose lives were — and to a large extent still are — changed, if not completely derailed, by the ARS travesty. While reading Ruthless, you will likely experience a range of emotions from disbelief, anger, pain, sadness and sympathy. Trupp covers the ARS scam from the macro to the micro and every other point along the way. You will have no problem understanding the financial principles, the regulatory and governmental failures, and ultimately the drive and determination Trupp and others possess to expose this greatest of Wall Street charades.

In summary, having read and savored Phil Trupp’s Ruthless, I am compelled to compare it to one other great American story. That being the story of Erin Brockovich. That said, Trupp’s work does not come at a point when the ARS travesty is completed. The simple fact is there remain tens of thousands of investors with over $100 billion in frozen ARS holdings. Trupp’s work will certainly provide sustenance and inspiration for these investors. For that reason alone, Ruthless is truly priceless.

If critics and editors care to embrace Trupp’s inspiration and simultaneous indictment of so many corners of our financial, governmental, and media landscape, I believe Ruthless can and should be a longstanding best seller and a feature film presentation. Read this book. Share it with your friends, family and colleagues.

Ruthless: How Enraged Investors Reclaimed Their Investments and Beat Wall Street is now available at Amazon and other outlets.

Larry Doyle

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I have no affiliation or business interest with any entity referenced in this commentary. As President of Greenwich Investment Management, an SEC regulated privately held registered investment adviser, I am merely a proponent of real transparency within our markets so that investor confidence and investor protection can be achieved.

  • Mike Barry

    I can’t wait to read this book. Let’s also not forget those who are still trapped in ARS. Especially those trapped by Oppenheimer & Co. I was lied to, led on, and then Oppenheimer went silent and did nothing to help me. What a horrible firm. If you’re reading this, do not EVER invest through Oppenheimer & Co.

    Amnd media – you should be ashamed for ignoring this story, to dumb oafs.

  • ARS Investor

    Thanks for this great review and for bringing further attention to the plight of all those continuing to have frozen ARS holdings. I look forward to reading this book.

    Credit to Phil Trupp for taking on this project. I agree, wouldn’t it be sweet justice to see this on the big screen. We can only hope!!

    • phil trupp

      ARS Investor,
      Thanks for your kind comment. We’re working on the film angle. It’s a slow process, much like a super-complex maze. Will certainly let you know of the progress. Thanks again.

  • John W

    Amazon emailed me… “RUTHLESS” shipped yesterday to me! Looking forward to it like a child does Christmas morning !

  • Bill

    I feel like I could have written the book, having gone through the ARS scandal and having the very good fortune to get my money out. It was a real education, impelling me to delve into the intricacies of some of the financial esoterica, such as the capital structure of closed end funds. I really empathize for those still trapped in this fraudulent quicksand. I’ll never buy another fixed income product without reviewing the prospectus.

    • phil trupp

      Thanks for you encouraging comment. Just want to let you know we’re in this to the end, despite the book having been published. I had six months to finish the manuscript and was juggling uncountable ARS-related emails and phone calls and writing investigative stories all at once. It was a bit frustrating to know that the action would continue after the deadline– but alas, deadlines rule! But this story is far from over.

  • Leslie Mitchell


    congratulations, I look forward to reading this book at some point! and to watch the movie too! hope you and yours are well and again, congrats, altho a bit strayed from marine work (smile)
    best wishes, Leslie

    • phil trupp


      What a pleasant surprise. Thanks for the good words. Yes, it’s a bit distant from my years at sea. But then life is big, and one never knows what twists and turns lie ahead.
      Best to you.

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