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Levine and Co.

Levine & Co.

Douglas Frantz. Henry Holt, $19.95. He who writes first does not necessarily write best. Consider Douglas Frantz. The "Levine' in the title, in case you've forgotten, is Dennis Levine, the Wall Street investment banker who masterminded the insider-trading scandal that brought down the whole house of cards. It's odd: Levine's fall was such a big deal when he was first caught, and now the particulars of his case seem almost boring as so many bigger fish have followed, their own particulars vastly more lurid than his. And that was even before Black Monday, which has made the whole insider-trading scandal seem, somehow, far less interesting.

Frantz's goal was not so much to have the most complete book, or the most interesting book, or the best reported book on the scandal--only the first one. The question is: is that a goal that makes sense when a scandal is still breaking? Levine & Co. would suggest that the answer is no. What we get here is nearly 400 pages of Dennis Levine and his associates (surely you remember Ira Sokolow?)-- and then, at the end, a few pages about Ivan Boesky and Martin Seigel, clearly pasted on as the book was being rushed to press. That's all he had time for.

Levine comes across as a creepy enough character, but neither he nor his compatriots are ever brought to life. Levine's lure, for instance, is still a mystery to me. Why were people willing to commit crimes for him when even they didn't like him very much? In addition, the book reads like a long newspaper story (Frantz works for the Los Angeles Times) and the reporting does not go much beyond what was published in newspapers as the scandal was breaking. Oh, well, at least it was first.
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Author:Nocera, Joseph
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Dec 1, 1987
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