The notion of logging a Wall Street novice's yearlong quest for investment profits during what turns out to have been the height of a roaring bull market in common stocks has a certain everyman appeal. Unfortunately, Rothchild did not execute the order nearly as well as he might have. The author, a Miami-based free-lancer, ventured into the financial services marketplace at the start of 1986 with high hopes and about $14,000 in cash. At the end of his random-walk tour, which took him through Chicago's commodity pits, the NYSE, a cram course for aspiring brokers, and other of capitalism's outposts, Rothchild was deeply in the red after allowance for travel expenses as well as losses of principal and transaction costs. At its best, the author's ruefully anecdotal recap of how he and his money were parted in easy stages offers antic insights, e.g., expecting broken to be knowledgeable about finance is akin to supposing shoe salesmen are steeped in podiatry. In like vein, he cautions that ""past performances improves with age."" As a practical matter, the frequently shrewd nature of Rothchild's observations undercuts his credibility as a naif who throws money away on unpromising option straddles and obscure over-the-counter issues. Nor is it easy to accept that a reporter able to secure productive interviews with some of the financial community's leading analytic lights (including Henry Kaufman of interest-rate fame) would put much stock in an astrologer--or call the SEC to inquire about the legality of holding a garage sale of his less rewarding securities. The bottom line: a fitfully amusing account of capital punishment that's literally too absurd to be believed.