The Big Short:Inside the Doomsday Machine
Michael Lewis, 2010
Book Review by Molly Lundquist
A handful of guys made spectacular sums of money when Wall Street crashed—and, for most of us, it's hard to tell whether they're heroes or villains.
For Michael Lewis, they're mavericks—loners who bucked the system. As Lewis tells it, while others ran mindlessly with the herd, listening to the sound of their own hooves, these men knew the herd was headed over a cliff—it was just a matter of time. And they saw it coming for years.
The Big Short reads like a well crafted novel. A character-driven story, it follows the fortunes (literally) of three men who spent the time—and considerable brain power—to learn what was actually in those toxic mortgage-backed securities.
What they found convinced them that the subprime mortgages couldn't help but fail—it was inevitable—and the entire system would come tumbling down with them. They even figured out when the collapse would begin...and they were right on the money.
But the three were relatively unknowns, so when they spoke up no one listened—or no one wanted to. There was simply too much money being made to pay heed. Steve Eisman, Mike Burry, and Gregory Lippmann were barking in the wind.
At its core, The Big Short is a human interest story: you find yourself liking these guys—and their families—rooting for them as underdogs in the face of indifference, disbelief, even hostility. Lewis has given us a compelling read: simplifying complex financial issues and heightening the drama.
I think book clubs would have fascinating discussions of what was at the heart of the Wall Street crash of 2008—who knew what...and when did they know it!
See our Reading Guide for The Big Short.
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