Liar’s Poker, Michael Lewis’s first book, dramatised the crazy excesses of 1980s Wall St. It was rather like the Wolf of Wall Street but without the 18 certificate. But Michael Lewis knows how to make potentially dull stuff into a good read too, so if you feel you ought to know about the 2008 financial crisis but can’t face reading about it, The Big Short is the book for you. It’s a neat little paperback (or ebook, obviously) that explains the whole sorry mess with clarity and wit. It’s wholegrain but feels like cake: you’ll enjoy reading it and you’ll feel really virtuous afterwards.

His second book on the global financial meltdown, Boomerang, came out of Lewis’s research for The Big Short, and it’s a real page turner. There’s a chapter on each country and its madness – how US mortgage lending caused Greece to go bust, the precarious finances of the European country-sized state of California, and how even some sober-seeming Germans lost their heads, and their liberty. He’s sharp and very funny on national quirks – the chapters on what happened in Ireland and Iceland made me laugh out loud even as I gasped, “How could they get away with that?! And how did we not notice at the time?”

 

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Books | March 2015