The Revolution That Wasn’t

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What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

From Wall Street Journal columnist Spencer Jakab, the real story of the GameStop squeeze – and the surprising winners of a rigged game.

During one crazy week in January 2021, a motley crew of retail traders on Reddit’s r/wallstreetbets forum had seemingly done the impossible – they had brought some of the biggest, richest players on Wall Street to their knees. Their weapon was GameStop, a failing retailer whose shares briefly became the most-traded security on the planet and the subject of intense media coverage.

The Revolution That Wasn’t is the riveting story of how the meme stock squeeze unfolded, and the real architects (and winners) of the GameStop rally. Drawing on his years as a stock analyst at a major bank, Jakab exposes technological and financial innovations like Robinhood as ploys to part investors from their money, within the larger story of evolving social and economic pressures. The surprising truth? What appeared to be a watershed moment – a revolution that stripped the ultra-powerful hedge funds of their market influence, placing power back in the hands of everyday investors only increased the chances of the house winning.

Online brokerages love to talk about empowerment and ‘democratising finance’ – while Wall Street thrives on chaos. In this nuanced analysis, Jakab shines a light on the often-misunderstood profit motives and financial
mechanisms to show how this so-called revolution is, on balance, good for Wall Street. But, Jakab argues, there really is a way for ordinary investors to beat the pros: by refusing to play their game.

‘Jakab adeptly skewers the popular but dangerously wrong narrative of Reddit’s David thumping Wall Street’s Goliath, and shows how the casino always wins in the end. DeepF***ingRespect for an important book with lessons far more durable than GameStop’s stock market levitation.’ Robin Wigglesworth, author of Trillions

© Spencer Jakab 2022 (P) Penguin Audio 2022

Critics Review

  • Jakab adeptly skewers the popular but dangerously wrong narrative of Reddit’s David thumping Wall Street’s Goliath, and shows how the casino always wins in the end. DeepF***ingRespect for an important book with lessons far more durable than GameStop’s stock market levitation.

    Robin Wigglesworth, author of Trillions
  • Ever since the GameStop saga erupted into the headlines in the winter of 2021, we’ve all been waiting for the definitive take. This book is it. No matter how much you think you know about Wall Street, Jakab will surprise you, infuriate you – and educate you.

    Bethany McLean, bestselling co-author of The Smartest Guys in the Room and All The Devils Are Here
  • The saga of GameStop and other meme stocks is revealed with the skill of a thrilling whodunit. Jakab writes with an anti-Midas touch. If he touched gold, he would bring it to life.

    Burton G. Malkiel, author of A Random Walk Down Wall Street
  • The real story of the GameStop short squeeze. Jakab walks us through every twist and turn with nuanced insight and sheds a clarifying light on the shifts happening in today’s retail revolution.

    Jaime Rogozinski, founder of Reddit's WallStreetBets
  • An unputdownable post-mortem of the freakiest tale of pandemic-age finance – and of how investing became gamified. Jakab speaks with the key characters and highlights the structural issues, deploys the nihilistic “degen” jargon and recounts priceless anecdotes, cutting through the narrative to tell us what really happened during the GameStop short squeeze

    Gian M. Volpicelli, Senior Writer, Wired
  • A gripping account of the social movement that took over the investing world in 2020-2021. The heroes here thought they were sticking it to the man, but became the man’s stick. Jakab tells this story with warmth and humor, making financial concepts accessible to a lay audience. You will be entertained.

    Scott Galloway, Professor of Marketing at NYU Stern School of Business, and New York Times bestselling author of The Four and Post Corona

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