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Liar's Poker (Hodder Great Reads) [Kindle Edition]

Michael Lewis
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (94 customer reviews)

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Book Description

From mere trainee to lowly geek, to triumphal Big Swinging Dick: that was Michael Lewis' pell-mell progress through the dealing rooms of Salomon Brothers in New York and London during the heady mid-1980s when they were probably the world's most powerful and profitable merchant bank. A true-life Bonfire of the Vanities, funny, frightening, breathless and heartless, his is a tale of hysterical greed and ambition set in an obsessed, enclosed world.

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"Lewis has a gift for the rapid portrait. Unless you find his flippant one-liners irritating, it is a pleasure to be guided around the jungle of bond markets by his reminiscences and trenchant asides... Apart from the belly-laughs, one of the triumphs of Liar's Poker is that it makes the financial complexities of investment banking and the markets accessible to the layman... Everything from yields to selling short is painlessly clarified in the course of the narrative." -- Victor Mallet "Vivid and memorable." "Lewis takes the reader through his schoolboy's progress as trainee and geek in the trading room, to high-powered swashbuckler. The author has a puckish appreciation for the comic. Yet he also has the knack of explaining precisely how complex deals really work. He provides the most readable explanation I've seen anywhere of the origin within Salomon Brothers of the mortgage-backed securities market...It is good history, and a good story."


'An amazing book, readable, funny and mind-boggling ... one of the great business books of all time' -- Punch 'Read all about it: headlong greed, inarticulate obscenity, Animal House horseplay ...' -- The Sunday Times 'Immense verve and wit' -- 20/20 Magazine 'A highly immoral book' -- Daily Mail 'Wickedly funny' -- Daily Express 'As traders would say, this book is a buy' -- Financial Times

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A classic with a new relevance today 29 April 2009
By P. Bade
Lewis' 'Liar's Poker' was an instant classic upon publication. Yet it had an adverse effect: instead of being read as the critical account it was intended to be, an entire genereation of investment banker's used this book as a 'how to' guide and a prime resource of information on how to survive on Wall Street or in the City of London.

At present it attains a new relevance: the book can be read as am account of the culture that lead to the problems in the financial system.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More fun than serious 23 Aug. 1998
By A Customer
Anybody looking for a sober review of the financial markets in the 1980's and/or Salomon Brothers' role in it will be disappointed. However, as a review of one man's experience on Wall Street, it is suoerb. Michael Lewis is a wonderful storyteller, and he writes this book so that you don't need a deep knowledge of finance to enjoy it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Intensely Prophetic, from a 2011 perspective! 16 Nov. 2011
Just finished it: My second Michael Lewis read (my first being The Big Short) and another highly enjoyable, amusing and insightful take on how Wall Street and, in particular, the bond markets operate. While possibly a bit slight on the technicalities and a bit heavy on the gossip (hence the four star rating), it nevertheless achieves what I believe was its primary aim; to open up up Wall Street to a wider public viewing. Despite the fact that it was published circa 1988, it includes some very portentuous observations, that are absolutely relevant to the US and Europe's current economic standing. Pity I didn't read it all those years ago; I could have made a small fortune working off its predictions. Roll on to Lewis' next tome. I'm now a total convert
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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Liar's Poker offers you a journey into the world of a sophisticated money-making machine: a global investment bank.

As an ex- Bankers Trust employee, I can claim I have met many people similar to the characters in the book, and I can say the characters, events, their habits appear very well pictured. Even though it is technical at times, this book is light years away from many boring books like "see how smart I was making my fortune".

This book explains a lot about how money was made and lost during these times. It gives examples of strategies and market context. More importantly it also shows you of people's greed, fear and the consequences of that. It illustrates relations within junior and senior staff in a bank like this in a very honest way.

The most exciting thing about it is that the author keeps a distance to events, millions of profit, important people and institutions mentioned in the book. Few of people working inside such an institution can say that.
I have recommended Liar's Poker to some people, and it seems it has changed the way they see their jobs and careers. Finally, this book makes you think - that is what good books are about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still relevant 12 May 2012
By Marand TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
At times it is hard to remember that this book was written in the late 1980's. For all that, it still has relevance today inasmuch as the impact of some of the attitudes and behaviours described in the book were implicated in the most recent financial crisis. He succinctly conveys the problems of short-termism, conflicts of interest and the duping of investors (although I have limited sympathy with the investors who should really have known better and questioned more), issues which are still being discussed twenty five years on. Lewis is also pretty scathing about those at the top who appeared to have little knowledge or understanding of the activities of their traders and salesmen. He notes the speed with which raw, inexperienced trainees became 'experts' trading vast sums. Lewis's own rise up the organisation was fuelled in large part by one transaction.

One of the things that Lewis examines is the creation and development of the mortgage bond market, and the slicing and dicing of mortgages to be sold on to investors and which of course were implicated in the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Although there is a fair bit of detail, I didn't find it to be too technical nor overwhelming. Lewis writes well and provides enough detail for the lay man, but not too much.

On the whole I found this to be a very readable account and have been spurred to order Lewis's later books. His aim was to open up the activities of Wall Street & the Square Mile to the wider public and I think he achieved that objective.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Very average, overrated.. 23 Nov. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I read this book 4 years ago because it was one in a list recommended by a trader I respected. I had heard of it before and was aware it was a 'traders' book to read and has received many good reviews.

I've read many trading books from eg the classic Market Wizzards to recently Pit Bull, but was disappointed to find this book isn't really about trading or 'real traders'. It;s more about brokers.

It does give a reasonably interesting account into the life of Lehman Bros in the early days. In that respect I found it a fairly interesting history lesson of a world I never knew about.

Perhaps I'm being harsh as I'm judging the book purely from it's benefit to me as a trader, of which it was no use.I don't know know why this book is recommended as 'essential' reading for traders.

Listen, if you are a real trader, or want to read a book about trading, I suggest read some of the other classics.
If you are interested in the history, world and characters of the financial past, I suspect you will find this book interesting.

P.s. please let me know if you find this review helpful to you because I have read many more books on trading , some of which are real gems and I can write a review on them to help you decide.. just it takes quite a lot of time and only want to do if of use to someone :)

It wasn't for me.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I am happy withe my purchase and the quick delivery.
Published 23 days ago by Mrs M.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great product
Published 1 month ago by sarah
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
So good, it became a reference book.
Published 1 month ago by ash Raffa
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining Education for Investors
A very entertaining and eye opening perspective into the broker dealer world.

Even though the years and technology have moved on since it was written, I have no doubt... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jack Gleeson
5.0 out of 5 stars Autobiography that stands the test of time
Great book. Read it in the 80's and bought to read again. Stands the test of time and Lewis knows how to tell a story. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ian
4.0 out of 5 stars A very good read
I come to this a long time after it was written and I suspect that it has lost some of the impact it had when it was first published as people have become more familiar and maybe... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Rob Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars a good read but not his best work
Not as good as flash boys but very informative and enjoyable except for some wanderings in the descriptions and delivery.
Published 3 months ago by Sean Weatherburn
5.0 out of 5 stars The warning signs are all here
A wonderfully written, vivid account of Salomon Brothers bank in the 80s. The characters, institutional mechanics and prevailing culture described forewarn of the financial... Read more
Published 4 months ago by A. P. Farrell
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 4 months ago by D A Pearce
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting but not engaging...
This was interesting but could have been made into a much better story. Detail on stories outside work would have helped.
Published 4 months ago by mathew wilden
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