Zuckerman provides the closest thing readers may ever get to a definitive account of how Jim Simons, a mathematics prodigy turned code-breaking savant, built Renaissance Technologies into the greatest money-making machine in Wall Street history ... Zuckerman brings the reader so close to the firm’s inner workings that you can almost catch a whiff of the billionaire’s Merit cigarettes, even if he doesn’t completely lay bare the secrets of how Ren Tech’s black box actually works ... Zuckerman provides a nuanced profile that explains why it was Magerman, and not Simons -- one of the country’s largest Democratic donors -- who ultimately raged against Mercer’s political activities ... There are more great details of the episode -- and many others -- in the book, with Zuckerman providing an even-handed account of what has so far been an event that the tight-lipped firm and its reticent former co-CEO have declined to talk about.
Zuckerman says he became fixated with cracking the Simons code. And though he doesn’t entirely succeed, he divulges much more than anyone has before. More important, despite the tendency to dot his book with such daunting phrases as 'combinatorial game theory' and 'stochastic equations,' he tells a surprisingly captivating story. It turns out that a firm like Renaissance, filled with nerdy academics trying to solve the market’s secrets, is way more interesting than your typical greed-is-good hedge fund ... Zuckerman does a fine job of bringing not just Simons to life but most of the other 'quants' who played key roles in creating Renaissance’s system.
Accessible if sometimes-turbulent ... Of more than passing interest are the liberal Simons’ dealings with partner Robert Mercer, who applied quant methods to politics and came up with the likes of Donald Trump and Steve Bannon, a decision that brought enough heat on the house to force Mercer’s resignation ... Worthwhile reading for budding plutocrats and numerate investors alike.