Michael Lewis is one of those authors who I’d read regardless of the subject. He’s adept and entertaining and a brilliant writer. The Big Short is the story of the US subprime crisis.
In short, a handful of very smart men figured out how to game the system—but they were able to game the system because a handful of other smart men had reasons to create these opportunities to game the system. Overtime, more and more opportunistic folks entered the marketing, some smart and some foolish. At the end of the day, the smart folks playing the game got rich, the opportunistic folks got rich and the fools also got rich. The only people who lost are the people who didn’t realize they were playing, the Americans who had mortgages that they should have never been given.
Vanity Fair has a great excerpt, which is how I originally discovered this book. Lewis crafts an incredibly compelling narrative that is part detective story, part horror story and part unbelievable reality tv as text. Read the except, it sets the stage for the book.
The Barnes & Noble Review of The Big Short is far better written than anything I can pull off today.
My lasting impression of The Big Short is that a lot of people screwed each other other and the subprime crisis is the tip of the iceberg. Some folks got arrested, fined or jailed, but the system is still the same system. The idiots who created the right conditions for the opportunists are still at the helm.
There are a few books that let you look inside at the inner workings of the complex systems that govern our society. These books are always terrifying in that once you have this information, you must act on it.
The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis (Published by WW Norton). A look at Wall Street and the financial risk takers who brought down the system.
The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals by Michael Pollan. A look at industrialized food production and how corn will, and is, bringing down the system.
Confessions of an Economic Hit Man by John Perkins. A look at how U.S. intelligence agencies and multinationals ensure foreign leaders serve U.S. foreign policy and award lucrative contracts to American business. Perhaps more conspiracy that you’d like, but this level of corruption along with Lewis’ account of Wall Street presents a system that is not pure, fair or unbiased.
Any others to add to the list? Stevie Cameron’s On the Take?