Wall Street

Crowdsourcing Flash Boys: The book's most popular passages

April 1, 2014: 4:55 PM ET

Here are the sections of Michael Lewis's new book that have been flagged most by Kindle readers.

Flash Boys Mech 3p_r3.REV.for cat.inddFORTUNE -- It's been out for just 36 hours, but already the latest send-up of Wall Street culture from veteran Wall Street scourge Michael Lewis has caused a mild furor in the financial press. The pundit class and the high-frequency traders have had their say, and the full reviews -- both effusive and terrible -- continue to trickle in.

What do you need to read right now? Here's a quick-and-dirty look at the popular sections so far. Below, find the most-highlighted passages in the Kindle version of the book.

First, the paranoid musings from the man who drilled underground for miles to build a fiber-optic cable between the New York Stock Exchange and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange that could execute a trade between the two in 13 milliseconds (he thought someone else might get to it first): "'When something becomes obvious to you,' he said, 'you immediately think surely someone else is doing this.'" Highlighted by 80 people.

An ominous explainer of the ability to use high-frequency trading technology to exploit tiny differences in the time it takes to buy stocks from different exchanges (the process essentially soaks the buyer by purchasing the stock fractions of seconds before him from a different exchange, then selling it back to him at a higher price): "Someone out there was using the fact that stock market orders arrived at different times at different exchanges to front-run orders from one market to another." Highlighted by 73 people.

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On the death of the old-school trading floor (think switchboards, men in color-coded jackets and bullhorns): "The 1987 stock market crash set in motion a process -- weak at first, stronger over the years -- that has ended with computers entirely replacing people." Highlighted by 72 people.

More on the computerization of trading: "The U.S. stock market now trades inside black boxes, in heavily guarded buildings in New Jersey and Chicago." Highlighted by 68 people.

On what happened when the owners of the new high-speed trading line started to sell access to it to big Wall Street banks, and told them they could only use it when trading for themselves -- not for clients: "Any big bank that leased a place on the line could use it for its own proprietary trading but was forbidden from sharing it with its brokerage customers ... Morgan Stanley wanted to be able to trade for itself in a way it could not trade for its customers; it just didn't want to seem as if it wanted to. Of all the big Wall Street banks, Goldman Sachs was the easiest to deal with. 'Goldman had no problem signing it,' the Spread employee said. " (GS) Highlighted by 66 people.

As the protagonist figures out the mechanics of high-frequency trading: "Brad knew that he was being front-run -- that some other trader was, in effect, noticing his demand for stock on one exchange on buying it on others in anticipation of selling it to him at a higher price." Highlighted by 57 people.

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