About Talkin' Big and Tom Dittmer

Talkin' Big is the inspiring and often hilarious story of larger-than-life American entrepreneur Tom Dittmer, Iowa farm boy turned commodities tycoon who co-founded the REFCO group. The futures business in 1970s Chicago was the Wild West, and Dittmer was a maverick and gunslinger with the best (and worst) of them. In a time like no other in business history, Dittmer was smack in the middle, pushing, shoving, and above all persevering.

Raised by a single mother, young Dittmer had barely the grades to graduate high school, let alone overcome poverty, illness, dyslexia, and a crippling stutter. And yet through sheer determination, Dittmer graduated from the University of Iowa and went on to serve in the US Army's elite 3d Infantry in Washington, DC, where he was also appointed a White House Social Aide. He soon met and married a smart, beautiful Texan and off they went to Chicago, fortune, and a modicum of fame.

By turns hilarious and heartbreaking, occasionally off-color but always colorful, Dittmer tells his story his way: simply and directly in a chain of events that reads more like a movie script than a memoir. With a cast of characters including celebrities, heads of state, fugitives, financiers, Nobel laureates, and no-good scoundrels, Talkin' Big is about living large, winning big, losing badly, and staying true to who you are. With invaluable insights into business and life, Dittmer has the grace and chutzpah to enjoy the whole ride, and you can't help but enjoy it, too.

Tom Dittmer, legendary figure and pioneer in the world of commodities trading, grew up in Sioux City, Iowa. A University of Iowa graduate, Dittmer served in the US Army's prestigious 3rd Infantry Old Guard and as a White House Social Aide. With stepfather Ray Friedman, Dittmer co-founded the erstwhile brokerage firm Refco in 1969, in its heyday the world's largest commodities brokerage firm. Concurrently Dittmer partnered in one of the world's largest cattle feeding operations, Cactus Feeders Inc. In 1999 Dittmer sold his stakes in both businesses and retired as Refco's chairman to pursue other business and personal interests. In 2005 he was elected to the Futures Industry Association's inaugural Hall of Fame class alongside the likes of Lloyd Blankfein, Alan Greenspan, and Paul Tudor Jones II. A father and grandfather, Dittmer lives with his wife Frances Schultz in the Santa Ynez Valley of California.

Jacket design by Brian Peterson
Jacket photograph by Frances Schultz
Business/Memoir US $24.99/Can $33.99