“Most people know about the derivatives that nearly brought down the financial system. Less known, but even more intriguing, are the futures and options traded on exchanges, especially in Chicago.The Futures is a window into that market and its gripping history, with rough-and-tumble locker room trading floors, loud colorful characters, rumpled shirts, cigars, and – most important – lots of money. The book is a front row seat on a massive gambling operation that has been surprisingly stable for a century and a half, and remains closely connected to the very real worlds of farming and food. If subprime mortgage derivatives had been traded openly in a Chicago pit, instead of secretly among Wall Street banks, we wouldn’t have had the recent financial crisis.”

“With a passion for pork bellies, Emily Lambert takes us on an unexpectedly entertaining tour of the most volatile gambling pit in the world. Frenzied and fully wired on caffeine and fiber-optics, the exchange shapes food prices and influences global trade, yet it remains obtuse and impenetrable. Not after reading this fine book.”

“A highly readable, informative and—here’s the most amazing part—downright charming account of where the Chicago derivatives exchanges came from and where they’re going.”

The Futures tells the  rich and colorful story of the Chicago futures exchanges—once the homes of trading in grains, eggs and pork bellies, which then went on to remake themselves into the world’s central marketplace for financial futures—and the generations of traders and speculators and financial entrepreneurs who ran them. It is not only a book about a transformative episode in financial history, it is also a wonderfully vivid portrait of an important slice of Chicago life.”