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The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine [Hardcover]

Michael Lewis
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 Mar 2010
"The Big Short" tells a story of spectacular, epic folly. It has taken the world's greatest financial meltdown to bring Michael Lewis back to the subject that made him famous. His international bestseller "Liar's Poker" exposed the greed and carnage of the City and Wall Street in the 1980s; he wrote it as a cautionary tale, but people seem to have read it as a how-to guide. Now, he wants to settle accounts. In this visceral tour to the heart of the financial system, Michael Lewis takes us around the globe and back decades to trace the origins of the current crisis. He meets the people who saw it coming, the people who were asleep at the wheel and the people who were actively driving us all of cliff. How could we have all been so deluded for quite so long? Where did it all start? Was it systemic? Was it avoidable? And who the hell can we blame? Michael Lewis has the answers. No one is better qualified to get to the heart of this labyrinthine story. And no one can make it such an enjoyable ride along the way.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Allen Lane (15 Mar 2010)
  • Language: Unknown
  • ISBN-10: 1846142571
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846142574
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.4 x 3.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (164 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 135,448 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Michael Lewis was born in New Orleans and educated at Princeton University and the London School of Economics. He has written several books including the New York Times bestseller, Liar's Poker, widely considered the book that defined Wall Street during the 1980s. Lewis is contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and also writes for Vanity Fair and Portfolio magazine. He is married with three children.

Product Description


There aren't many reasons to be happy about the global financial crisis, but here's one: that it brought Michael Lewis back to his roots, to produce what is probably the single best piece of financial journalism ever written (Felix Salmon Reuters )

Each chapter is full of the kind of dialogue you do not hear even in the best-written Hollywood films ... Lewis is back (John Arlidge Sunday Times )

No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis (Michiko Kakutani New York Times )

Hugely entertaining (Economist )

If you read only one book about the causes of the recent financial crisis, let it be Michael Lewis's, The Big Short (Steven Pearlstein Washington Post )

The Big Short is superb: Michael Lewis doing what he does best, illuminating the idiocy, madness and greed of modern finance ... But what truly sets Michael Lewis apart from other writers is his craft ... the end result is devastating (Salon )

Eagerly anticipated ... A triumph ... Lewis builds the tension of this tug-of-war expertly, so much so that The Big Short reads like a thriller (Antonia Senior Times )

Lewis creates magnificent financial set-pieces (James Buchan Guardian )

Lewis is hugely entertaining ... a terrifying story, superbly well told (David Flusfeder Daily Telegraph )

About the Author

Michael Lewis was born in New Orleans and educated at Princeton University and the London School of Economics. He has written several books including the New York Times bestseller, Liar's Poker, widely considered the book that defined Wall Street during the 1980s. Lewis is contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and also writes for Vanity Fair and Portfolio magazine. He is married with three children.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
By Jennifer Cameron-Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER
We are still living with the consequences of the global financial crisis of 2008. A sad story of losses and losers resulting from the construction and application of flawed mathematical models, untested assumptions and greed. Much has been written about the process of turning subprime mortgages into financial products which were then sold, after being accorded triple A (or equivalent) ratings by ratings agencies. Much is being spent by governments around the world to try to repair the damage. And, hopefully, changes are being made to try to ensure that such disasters are avoided in future.

In this book, Michael Lewis tells the stories of some of those people who analysed the market and saw the possibility that instruments created on the foundation of subprime mortgages could fall. In such circumstances, going short could reap a fortune.

So, how did these people know this? Were they prescient, or just lucky? Maybe both: together with the fact that they undertook some analysis of the subprime mortgages and realised that the facade was rotten. Who were these people? Mr Lewis writes about Steve Eisman and his team, who understood the US housing market and Wall Street. He writes of Michael Burry, who immersed himself in the bond market, and of the `garage band hedge fund' created by Jamie Mai and Charlie Ledley.

I found this book interesting because it sheds light on a different aspect of the crisis. Its discomforting to think that while some individuals undertook the analysis required to determine an opportunity for profit, the multiple entities involved in the subprime mortgage financial path (from lending money initially to manufacturing the financial products sold as a consequence) did not undertake appropriate risk analysis. And now, sadly, individuals and taxpayers are bearing the cost.

`Success was individual achievement; failure was a social problem.'

Jennifer Cameron-Smith
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137 of 153 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Let me get one thing straight out of the way - this book is unlikely to have the impact of Liar's Poker (Hodder Great Reads) for two reasons. The former was one of the first on the subject and defined 1980s banking to an extent, it got many graduates excited about potentially becoming BSDs themselves. It was in a way the perfect pitch for the industry, working even better as a result of being a critique of the system. The second reason was that while Liar's Poker was timely, this book came out a bit late to the 2008 financial meltdown party. Books like The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable or Fooled by Randomness: The Hidden Role of Chance in Life and in the Markets were a lot more timely, and while not everyone will appreciate Taleb's writing style, they were in some ways more general and applicable to broader sets of situations.

Be that as it may, Lewis is still an accomplished writer and knows how to package the book well. Unlike in Liar's Poker, this book is not based on his own personal experiences (he retired from the industry prior to writing Liar's Poker) but follows several of the investors, who saw the unsustainability of the subprime mortgage market and decided to short it ahead of the curve. Through their stories Lewis shows how the market developed, the systemic problems plaguing the sector (a bit like in the second part of Liar's Poker) and how the downfall happened.
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75 of 84 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Generation Kill goes to Wall Street 12 May 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Michael Lewis is one of the most gifted and entertaining writers today - anyone who has read his reputation-forming Liar's Poker will know this (if you haven't, and you aspire to a career in finance, you should), but his subsequent offerings, particularly the singularly brilliant Moneyball have also been outstanding. He distinguishes himself from his peers firstly by his thorough insider's understanding of how, when and why finance works (and by extension how, when and why it doesn't) but also a deft turn of phrase and devastating wit. When the subject is the logic-defying but leaden topic of tranched portfolio credit derivative armageddon, both attributes are in good demand. And both, in the shape of Lewis' airy but insightful writing, are in abundant supply.

The rosette for "best book about the financial meltdown" is hotly contested - luminaries such as George Soros, Mohamed El-Erian and Hank Paulson have entered more or less weighty tomes (some excellent, some portentous, some a bit wacky); as have well-respected and deeply learned journalists like the NY Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin and the FT's Gillian Tett.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars The Great Exposure
A great book. As always, Lewis gets the facts and chases the money trail. A little over the head of a the normal average mortgage holder to apreciate but a startling inditement of... Read more
Published 23 days ago by Trevor Evans
5.0 out of 5 stars if you have even a passing interest in how the subprime mortgage...
Another excellent Lewis book, played out through a set of characters, this book is a masterpiece! However reading it without some basic derivative/finance knowledge is going to be... Read more
Published 1 month ago by R. B. Mason
5.0 out of 5 stars If you thought the financial crash was bad, read this
If you thought Lewis' story of the 2007/8 crash was scary, His sequel exposes the 'conspiracy of ignorance' in several governments and the legacy of debt that is still unfolding... Read more
Published 2 months ago by MR D E RANCE
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
The technical words are not too difficult to understand for someone outside of finance.
Would recommend it to anyone for or against the financial sector
Published 2 months ago by sean
5.0 out of 5 stars Good description of the financial world
This book is very easy to read and explains how inside Wall Street only a few people found that the sub-prime mortgage system was about explode. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ignacio N.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very entertaining
The book to read my M. Lewis besides Liar's Poker. Both are very entertaining trips to what really happens on Wall Street...
Published 2 months ago by Tero Ojanperä
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Excellent very informative read, especially for those who don't know much at the outset. Very clear descriptions and interesting book.
Published 2 months ago by Olivia
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent explanation
Gives a real insight into how hubris and greed caused the destruction of the financial world between 1980 and 2008. Thank you USA you have given us so so much.
Published 2 months ago by Pentakomo
5.0 out of 5 stars continuing professional development in everyday stories of the money...
exposes the goings on that everybody knows all about when the have made their first ten million and kept some of it.
Published 3 months ago by abbeybarn
5.0 out of 5 stars Hillarious
One of the best books I have ever read. I need to find a time soon and read it again.
Published 4 months ago by Ondrej Nezdara
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