Straight to Hell: Memoir Of Banking Debauchery Elicits Mostly Yawns by Jonathan A. Knee, The New York Times

It turned out that John LeFevre was not only never a Goldman Sachs employee, he didn’t work at any investment bank when he started the notorious anonymous Twitter account @GSElevator — which stands for Goldman Sachs elevator — in 2011. What’s more, he had not worked in New York at all for almost a decade, although he previously worked his way up to a midlevel position on the Citigroup debt syndicate desk. For all but a brief period after his analyst training program, Mr. LeFevre was relegated to a series of international Citigroup outposts. So when his identity was revealed, it surprised no one that his lucrative book contract was canceled. It turned out that John LeFevre was not only never a Goldman Sachs employee, he didn’t work at any investment bank when he started the notorious anonymous Twitter account @GSElevator — which stands for Goldman Sachs elevator — in 2011. What’s more, he had not worked in New York at all for almost a decade, although he previously worked his way up to a midlevel position on the Citigroup debt syndicate desk. For all but a brief period after his analyst training program, Mr. LeFevre was relegated to a series of international Citigroup outposts. So when his identity was revealed, it surprised no one that his lucrative book contract was canceled.

More surprising was that, within a matter of weeks, a new publisher, Grove Atlantic, emerged ready to provide its imprimatur to Mr. LeFevre. What, precisely, could the author — who now describes himself as running “a Twitter site that aggregates commentary that is supposed to embody the 1 percent” — have to tell us in a book? The new publisher also appeared to struggle with this question as it ultimately pushed back the release date from last fall to this month. The answer, which is revealed in the too many pages of the profoundly uninteresting “Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals” (Atlantic Monthly Press), is nothing much at all.

The only reminders in “Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals” of the Twitter account that gave Mr. LeFevre any relevance in the first place are the pages of sample tweets that introduce each chapter and an unconvincing and self-serving four-page “author’s note” about the controversies that preceded publication. The rest is a tired and dated memoir of his infantile high jinks as a young banker.

Even if you think that having a contest to see who can run into a restaurant and scream a genitalia-oriented request the loudest is hysterical, this sort of thing has been covered previously in better books like “Monkey Business,” by John Rolfe, which came out before Mr. LeFevre became a banker. The predominantly Asian locales in the book are a distinction from others in the genre, but this only serves as an excuse to increase the misogyny and racism to unbearable levels.

What the book does make clear for the first time about @GSElevator is that the account is not meant to be satirical but rather aspirational. Mr. LeFevre’s lack of both irony and self-awareness is on display with his selection of the first Twitter message in the chapter dividers: “If you can be good at one thing, be good at lying … because if you’re good at lying, you’re good at everything.” There is plenty of evidence in the book and in the events leading to its publication that this tweet represents the author’s personal credo.

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Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals – Description

Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals by John LeFevre

“Some chick asked me what I would do with 10 million bucks. I told her I’d wonder where the rest of my money went.”—@GSElevator

Over the past three years, the notorious @GSElevator Twitter feed has offered a hilarious, shamelessly voyeuristic look into the real world of international finance. Hundreds of thousands followed the account, Goldman Sachs launched an internal investigation, and when the true identity of the man behind it all was revealed, it created a national media sensation—but that’s only part of the story.

Where @GSElevator captured the essence of the banking elite with curated jokes and submissions overheard by readers, Straight to hell adds John LeFevre’s own story—an unapologetic and darkly funny account of a career as a globe-conquering investment banker spanning New York, London, and Hong Kong. Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals pulls back the curtain on a world that is both hated and envied, taking readers from the trading floors and roadshows to private planes and after-hours overindulgence. Full of shocking lawlessness, boyish antics, and win-at-all-costs schemes, this is the definitive take on the deviant, dysfunctional, and absolutely excessive world of finance.

Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals – Review

Advance Praise for Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals

One of Entertainment Weekly’s 10 Must-Reads of Summer

A Time magazine Ultimate Summer Reads Pick

An Amazon Best Book of the Month in Business/Leadership & Humor/Entertainment

“Shocking and sordid—and so much fun.”—New York Daily News

“LeFevre . . . sharply observes the lives of globe-trotting, overindulging, investment bankers.”—Entertainment Weekly

“If you thought the Wall Street culture portrayed in his tweets was bad, the one in LeFevre’s new book Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals is worse.”—CNN Money

“LeFevre’s stories are eye-opening. Also I’m pretty sure he confesses to several felonies, and there’s a price-fixing conference in a Hong Kong hotel room that I hope he ran by his lawyer. But you don’t want to read about bond deals. You want drugs and hookers. LeFevre delivers them with overwhelming force . . . Teenage boys at Choate will want to be investment bankers after reading Straight to Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals.”—Bloomberg Businessweek

“Reads like a frat boy’s fever dream of the highflying life: morning drinking, late-night drinking, and drinking all the hours in between; pranks, bar fights, cheating, travel, and prostitutes. . . . Equal parts fun and train wreck, this is a tale engineered to astonish.”—Publishers Weekly

“Bad Behavior 101 . . . No, it’s not a day at Hunter S. Thompson’s ranch but . . . a day at an ordinary big ticket investment bank. . . . You’d be forgiven for keeping your money under the mattress henceforth.”—Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

John LeFevre has enjoyed a distinguished career in international finance. He joined Salomon Brothers immediately out of college, and worked for Citigroup in New York, London, and Hong Kong. In 2010 he was hired by Goldman Sachs to be head of Debt Syndicate in Asia, a position that he eventually did not take due to a contractual issue. He has written for Business Insider and has been interviewed about @GSElevator by the New York Times, CNN, and other outlets.

Straight to Hell - True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, and Billion-Dollar Deals