Chapter 24. JIM CRAMER

Host of CNBC's Mad Money with Jim Cramer

Former successful hedge fund manager

Co-founded TheStreet.com

Is it an act? That's what I asked him, back before Jim Cramer joined CNBC as a host.

He had already become a well-known hedge fund manager and co-founder of TheStreet.com. He was a regular guest on Squawk Box as a co-host. But it was before his numerous books on investing in the stock market.

Before commercials appeared with takeoffs on his character on CNBC's show Mad Money.

Before CBS's 60 Minutes did a profile on him.

Before his "They know nothing!" tirade against Ben Bernanke and company.

Before he went on the Today show in 2008 during the financial crisis and warned investors that they should take money out of the market if they needed it within the next five years.

Before he became a target—rightly or wrongly—of everyone from the Obama administration to Jon Stewart.

"I learned a long time ago," he told me, "that you have to make it interesting."

And he sure does that.

On his CNBC show Mad Money, while he's ranting and hyperventilating about stocks that you should buy or sell with haste, he looks like someone you'd avoid at the bus station. But here's the deal with Jim Cramer. Even off camera he's high energy, but he's one of the smartest people you'll ever meet.

And it's not like his path to Wall Street was a gilded path. This is a guy who worked as a print journalist. In fact, that's where he learned "to make it interesting." At one point in his life he spent nine ...

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