LastÂ week I received from Michael Covel a copy of his latest book [easyazon-link asin="0061241709"]The Complete TurtleTrader: The Legend, the Lessons, the Results. Michael and I first crossed paths a couple years ago when I was the Content Editor forÂ Trade2Win website. It was shortly after he had released his first book, Trend Following, and he was gracious enough to do an interview for the site.
TheÂ first impression one gets from the book isÂ quite favorable. It is anÂ attractiveÂ format, and a pretty easy read, though well written and detailed. The primary text is about 200 pages, which I got throughÂ inÂ a single afternoon (though I do read faster than most).Â AndÂ the price tag isÂ extremely reasonable for a hardcover trading book, much lower than what youÂ often see.
The Complete TurtleTrader definitely continues along the path of the trend trading subject of Covel’s earlier book, but does so through the story of the famous Turtles. Readers of Jack Schwager’s book, Market Wizards, and it’s follow-up, The New Market Wizards,will beÂ familiar with the Turtles. They are the result of a nature vs. nurture running debate between famous futures trader Richard Dennis (a Market Wizard) and his partner William Eckhardt (profiled in The New Market Wizards). [The audio of the Dennis chapter from Market Wizards is also available separately.]
The Turtle program was an effort to determine whether traders can be created, developed through training as opposed to having some innate talent for it. ThisÂ topic has been the subject of debates in trading circles for probably as long as there has been traders. To a certain degree, the classic movie Trading Places, which was released very near the time of the first Turtle program, has at it’s core the same theme.
In The Complete TurtleTrader, as the subtitle suggests,Â Covel tells the story of the Turtles from the selection process whichÂ brought together two very diverse groups of peopleÂ in 1983 and 1984 all the way through to where they are today. It includes a discussion of their training program, their performance, and of course the ideas underlying the system they employed, one based on trend following. The explanation of the latter is pretty directÂ – definitely enough to give the reader a really good idea of the way the Turtles were taught to trade,Â which they didÂ very successfully. Figures to that end are provided throughout the text and in supporting appendices. The author also includes comments on how individual traders can apply the Turtle techniques and philosophyÂ themselves.
For someone like myself who first heard about the Turtles through Schwager’s writings, this book was a really interesting back-filling of the story. When Schwager was putting his books together, the Turtles and their instructors were very tight-lipped about the details of the experience. In this book, Covel has been able to flesh things out not just in a kind of history text sort of exposition, but one which includes a great many comments and anecdotes from the participants. It is a tale which really explores the whole perspective of life as a Turtle.
The storyÂ Covel lays outÂ offers a great many insights. Obviously, the first one is that learning how to trade, and to make bigÂ returns,Â is possible. Probably the mostÂ interesting part of the narrative, though,Â (in terms of theÂ story, anyway)Â is what happened to the Turtles after they left the program. It will come as no surprise that the diversity of their backgrounds and personalities has been reflected in the diversity of what they have done over the intervening years. IÂ was particularlyÂ enthralled byÂ the discussion of the adjustments they had to make to be successful as big-timeÂ money managers, something their mentor Dennis was never quite able to do.
Overall IÂ consider The Complete TurtleTrader a very enjoyable and worthwhile read. It has a lot of elements, and of course trading strategy. I actuallyÂ foundÂ reinforcementÂ of many of my own trading ideas as I was reading, seeing them in a different light. That’s not something which happens much after twenty years of trading and reading books and articles on the subject. Of course not everyone is going to find the fullness of theÂ theory or applicationÂ behind Turtle trading suitable to them, but it is always worth making an effort to learn from those who have achieved success before us, and that’s an opportunity this book provides.