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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 17 June 2012
Michael Lewis's highly readable account of the collapse of the US sub-prime mortgage market and the worldwide financial crisis it triggered focuses on a small number of characters. People with iconoclastic views determined not to be constrained by the old conventional rules. People who created new financial investments. People who put money into places their investors did not really understand on a good day and did not even know what had been done with their money on a bad day. People who made huge profits as others suffered.

But these people are not the villains - they are the heroes of Lewis' book. These are the people who saw the problems in the sub-prime market and what really lay behind the supposed AAA ratings. They are the ones who understood what was really going on and who, if the rest of the world has listened to them sooner, would have been the saviours who had rescued the financial markets before they inflicted calamities on us all.

Although Michael Lewis does not say so himself, the similarity in behaviours and characters between those who got the sub-prime market horribly wrong and those who called it just right is striking. How to learn from all this when those who were right and those who were wrong turned up to be largely indistinguishable, save that hindsight justifies only one of those groups?

That could make for a rather depressing read amongst all the entertaining narrative. However, in his interview to go with the book (and included in some versions of it), Michael Lewis draws one main regulatory lesson and it is one that is being applied in the UK. It is to split off speculative investments from retail banking, or casino banking from boring banking if you will.

The book itself is a self-consciously narrow take on the financial disaster, looking at the traders involve in the sub-prime markets with the range of other markets and institutions, not to mention other countries, getting only limited walk-on parts.

It is therefore probably not the only book you might want to read about the financial crash, but it should certainly be one of them - especially as Lewis not only dishes out criticism widely but also makes an effort to explain why so many people turned out to have acted in ways that seemed so dumb.
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on 12 October 2017
The film is very good indeed and bears repeated viewing. But the book provides more detail, and if you've seen the film it fills in some of the gaps. It's the kind of book that sometimes you just have to put down because you've just read something that's so unbelievable, but at the same time so well explained that you do believe that that is how it was, that you simply lack the ability to continue. You just sit there, boggling slightly. I now understand something of what happened and what is happening in financial markets. I almost wish I didn't.
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on 4 August 2017
I'm not American, I don't live in any of the 50 states but I found this book a great read and really interesting to understand what actually caused all the problems and quit frankly - well done those who saw it coming and who took advantage of it. This is worth the read
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on 4 December 2017
Great book. Excellent combination of entertaining, eye opening and at times blood boiling. For anyone whos seen the film the book adds more death, and to me brings more life and individualism to the characters. Well worth a read.
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on 27 May 2017
Interesting, insightful and compelling. A must read.
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on 15 December 2017
Just because the book goes at length into too much technical details about the subprime mortgage bonds and CDOs. More could have been written on the personalities of the individuals involved as in TOO BIG TO FAIL.
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on 4 December 2017
one of those rare times when I watched the film before I got to read the book.
Usually i find that the book eclipses the film. and this is no exception! Film is good. but the book is superb.
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on 30 December 2017
Fascinating insight into the crash of 2008. I bought this having watched the excellent film and was riveted. Very readable despite the complex subject matter.
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on 5 May 2017
The build up and storyline were great. It told a detailed and entertaining story of those who benefited from sub-prime and the foolishness of the investment bankers.
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on 8 February 2017
Great story of how the financial markets got arrogant about their own products which none of them understood. It would be funny if it wasn't true!
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