He grew up in a middle class family in Bayside, Queens both of his parents were accountants. After high school he and his friend began to sell Italian ices from Styrofoam coolers to people at the beach earning $20,000. Belfort planned on using this money to pay for the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery. He left shortly after realizing that he was in the wrong place and dentistry was not for him. Belfort eventually graduated from American University. Years after college Belfort was given a job as a trainee stockbroker for L.F. Rothschild. Soon after getting the job the company experience financial difficulties related to a stock market crash in 1987. He was laid off shortly after. Belfort then started his own investment firm, Stratton Oakmont. It was the largest over the counter firm in the country during the late 1980s and 1990s. The firm participated in many pump and dump schemes artificially inflating the price of an owned stock through false statements. The firm had employed over a thousand brokers. A rookie stock broker was expected to make $250,000 in their first year. By the second year they would be making at least $500,000.
The success of this book revolves around the detailed descriptions of luxurious living and the thrilling tales of his many house parties. Belfort describes in detail what his life was like and what it took to get there. He discussed his first marriage and how once he found his wealth, it began to fall apart. His wife overlooked everything that he did in exchange for money. They eventually got divorced. Belfort also abused drugs and alcohol. He wasn't the only one enjoying the substances, he also made them available for his employees. He knew that he was wasting large amounts of money but it didn't bother him because of the millions he was making at the time. He lived a very risky lifestyle and by doing so it made his behavior out of control. Dallas Library book review carries many agreeable points.