I turned in the first truly complete draft of the book two weeks ago. Almost 120,000 words of efficient markets fun. And we now have a publication date that seems achievable: September 2007.
That said, there’s still a lot of work to do. Much of it is cutting, which I’m good at. But, especially in the latter half, there’s lots of refining, pulling together of story strands, even a bit of new reporting still to do. At least, that’s what I think. I’m having lunch with my editor next Monday, at which point I will learn what my opinions count for.
Eric Beinhocker, author of the massive and (judging from the two-thirds of a chapter that I’ve read) spectacularly good The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics, stopped by the office today for a chat. As he was leaving, he mentioned that it was only after finishing his first draft that he figured out what his book was about. I know the feeling now, too.
One other factor in figuring out what my book is about, though, is what’s in other new books like Beinhocker’s. He does a far more exhaustive and convincing job than I ever could of explaining the roots of equilibrium economics and its flaws. So now that’s one more thing I can breeze through in my book. There are lots of other recent books that have chipped away at the edges of my territory, and in the process made it much clearer what exactly I was writing about. Perry Mehrling’s biography of Fischer Black convinced me that I didn’t need to do a bunch of original research on Black, and William Poundstone’s Fortune’s Formula contains so much great biographical detail on the amazing Ed Thorp that I no longer felt the urge to devote half my book to the smartest man in Newport Beach. I have yet to read much of Donald MacKenzie’s An Engine Not a Camera, but I’m assuming it will absolve me from giving a lengthy explanation of options-pricing theory. I’m still a little worried about Peter Bernstein’s planned update of Capital Ideas, which could conceivably render my book entirely superfluous. But Peter has assured me we’re going after different readers. And of course he’s right. Right?