A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
There was a temptation to write my review before I had finished reading. To get there first before other reviewers. This race to be first, however, sometimes requires a pause, a reflection about what speed, transparency, fairness all actually require from individuals and companies. The world of finance is often opaque. Between executing a trade with your broker and another individual accepting that trade through their broker there is a ghost world operating on mico-slices of a second. It is a world filled with algorithms that are all focused on a zero-sum game where the individual seems to lose every single trade. It is a wild west were everyone is getting the shaft, except for the large banks and the high-speed traders.
No one is better at exploring the technical world of money and finance on Wall Street (and in Sports) than Michael Lewis. His talent is most obvious in his ability to spot inconsistencies, absurdities, and flaws in a system and explain them using great characters and narratives that the characters tell themselves. There is no Moneyball without Billy Beane, there is no Blind Side without Leigh Tuohy and Michael Oher, and there is no Liar's Poker without John Meriwether and John Gutfreund. There would also be no Flash Boys without Sergey Aleynikov, Brad Katsuyama and Ronan Ryan.
These characters MAKE this book great. Lewis, however, is what makes this story vibrantly great. He is a master of the New New Journalism narrative, a master of timing, and a master of getting to the story before the other suckers do. And... he appears to do it not just because he is fantastically good at it, but from all appearances because, like Brad Katsuyama, Lewis actually gives a micro-F about making the system deliver on its promise
OK, I do not have an economics background, so the level of this discussion was perfect for me. I thought this was one of the most interesting and gripping books I have listened to. The narrator has a great voice which actually sounds a little like Greenspan.
but on to the content. Having been a casual, but not formal, student of economics since the Reagan years, it was great to relook at the last 25 years through the eyes of someone who played a key role in decisions made through the years. Furthermore, the economic insights were the insightful, considered, logical, and unemotional thoughts you might expect from Greenspan. As a non-economist but who has a great interest in human psychology and sociology, the level this book was written at was perfect. The interplay between psychology, economics, social structures, and politics is great great reading. i do not think this was targetted at people who are economics professors, and the book should not be criticized for this: it's targetted at the general readership.
sometimes you listen to books and you find that your mind has wandered for a few minutes and you have lost the train of thought. That never happened to me during this read. I found it rivetting.