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4.4 out of 5 stars
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4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 29 April 2009
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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on 9 February 2004
I have been meaning to read Liar's Poker since I was offered the opportunity to sell my soul to the international money markets ten years ago. Well I finally got round to it. Michael Lewis writes an enthralling fast paced account of life on Wall Street in the hedonistic '80s. I could associate with many of the characters he describes, although a little of the largese is not quite as apparent in today's world. Nevertheless, the desire to get on, the "win at all costs" mentality, and the beating up of the new boy is all alive and well.
If you are searching for a justification for the existence of people who make a huge amount of money out of a bit of financial alchemy, you won't find it here (or, truth be told, in any book written by anyone who still has the faintest grip on reality). But as a guide to the sort of people that inhabit Wall Street and The City there is none better. A page turner if ever there was one.
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on 23 August 1998
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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on 26 February 2008
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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on 16 November 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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on 2 February 2016
Don’t know why this is considered a ‘Wall Street classic.’ It’s fairly tame stuff and doesn’t really note much of interest. It also covers a fairly short career (2 or 3 years from what I gathered) and *SPOILER ALERT* he just quits in the end before having made any real big bucks.

The Audio version is narrated by Lewis, which is a mistake. His tone is a bit dull and hard to listen to. For some reason they also add in a totally unnecessary, 30 second, Seinfeld-type groovy tune at the start of the chapters over the narrator’s voice.

I’m a big fan of Lewis’ newer stuff, but I wasn’t convinced by this. Maybe I’m missing something, but anyone who works in an office could probably write a similar book.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 May 2012
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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on 18 December 2015
Great book as always a very enjoyable read and provides some useful information about banking and history. Would recommend reading barberians at the gate as well as it touches on some of the same characters
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on 23 November 2014
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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on 16 May 2011
LIAR'S POKER is written by Michael Lewis to document his experience of a young man's college life and the maze of choosing combination of subjects in order to earn a competitive degree in the labour market. After his experience as salesman in London where an invitation to a royal banquet gave him the link to Salmon Brothers at Wall Street.
It is a story of treachery, naivety, classroom drama and corporate staff indiscipline told in a funny manner with mischievous wit.
The practice of horse trading, mortgage financing, bond, money and stock trading and factoring were analysed minutely into its constituent elements. The ignorance of the rich public/investors of how Wall street operates makes a pathetic reading. This is a serious tutorial in MBA class delivered with humour.
Fannie Mae and Salmon Brothers were to face a financial crisis that corroborated the author's account of large scale impropriety that looked like poker's game at Wall Street.
Once you start reading the book you wouldn't like to drop until you've read the last page.
Liar's Poker (Hodder Great Reads)
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