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Publisher's Summary

The long-awaited follow-up to the global best-seller Liar's Poker, The Big Short tells a story of spectacular, epic folly.

It has taken the world's greatest financial meltdown to bring Michael Lewis back to the subject that made him famous. His international best seller Liar's Poker exposed the greed and carnage of the City and Wall Street in the 1980s; he wrote it as a cautionary tale, but people seem to have read it as a how-to guide. Now, he wants to settle accounts. In this visceral tour to the heart of the money-making machine, Michael Lewis traces the origins of the crisis and introduces us to a new cast of compulsively fascinating characters. We meet the people who saw it coming, the people who were asleep at the wheel, and others who were actively driving us all off the cliff. Where did it all start? How could we have all been so deluded for quite so long? Did it really have to be this way? And who the hell can we blame? Michael Lewis has the answers.

No one is better qualified to reveal the dark truths about how our world really works. No one else could make it such an enjoyable ride along the way.

This edition includes a prologue read by the author, plus an exclusive author interview.

©2010 Michael Lewis (P)2010 Penguin Books Ltd

Critic Reviews

"Lewis is the finest storyteller of our generation." (Malcolm Gladwell)
"The funniest book about Wall Street I have ever read" (Tom Wolfe)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Flabbergasted

Narration is good. Story is interesting and shocking. Provides an insight into financial crisis which is a little sickening. You will not be a fan of wall street after this.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fascinating and boring

This story is incredible. I watched the film and thoroughly enjoyed the story, and so I wanted to get into more of the detail. However, it's a seriously detailed read and not so easy to follow the technical aspects. But enjoyable none the less -- especially having the characters from the film in my imagination.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Awesome book, bugs in the app

This is a great book. however, the app did not show the chapters correctly. I found the app a bit annoying.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Enjoyable story of disaster

A fascinating true story of the subprime crisis and Wall Street malfeasance. Leaves you with a distaste for what the US government did in bailing out the banks. They should have been allowed to fail with the cash and guarantees going to the savers instead of the speculators.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Olivier
  • 01-23-13

Sub-Primes for Dummies

Anyone who wants to understand the roots of the sub-prime crisis, which has plunged the world in recession for the past 5 years, should definitely get this book. Michael Lewis explains in easily comprehensible terms the concepts and reasons behind the splitting of mortgage loans into various floors and how this dissociation of the loans from the assets led to ever more abstract constructions which finally sent the world into chaos in the summer of 2008. A must read if you want to know why, and how, we got into the mess we are in nowadays.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Joe
  • 10-16-11

Complex but enjoyable

If you can get your head around complex wall street 'financial speak' such as synthetic CDO's and credit default swaps then this book is a revelation. Or at least it was for me; I thought the banks had been irresponsible now I know they are downright corrupt. The great irony is that they made these complex financial models to hide the risk but the models became so complex that they didn't understand them themselves.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • 02-10-15

A thriller that is still evolving into a nigthmare

What happens when you add complexity to an equation, then add more complexity and more and more and more, not knowing what the answer will be?
What happens when your long term is three month but your construct is measured in years?
What happens when men plan only for a myopic self serving individualistic benefit, not thinking for a moment about the larger society?
What happens when you stop thinking of other human beings as real but just streams of future income, expendable, usable, inconsequential?
What happens when you have so much money; you no longer understand the reality of others, when thirty million dollars is not enough to enter a game. when a hundred million only lets you pick at the table; when a billion is just a start?
What happens when the regulators all want to be the regulated because that is where the real money is?
What happens when you and your children pay for the insanity this questions propose?
I have picked behind the curtain, and what I saw was madness, mountains of madness.
The failures of our economies are the failures of our morality and the rot is so deep in our humanity, we need to have a radical removal of it virulence; or it will metastasise in all our values, and institutions.
Must read a thriller that is still evolving into a nightmare.

11 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • christina
  • 08-17-11

Just enough technical detail and a good story

I've worked a lot in financial regulation so I understood a lot about the events described already, but I still learned a few things from this. All the technical details are well explained and I think people without a financial background could understand a lot of it as well.

As for the story, it's well done. If I have a criticism, it's that it's a bit too black and white - Lewis's world is populated by two types of people - one group who are smart, hardworking and honest, and another who are stupid, shady and just out to make a quick buck. But I guess he exaggerated the characters a bit to make the story more engaging. And engaging it is. Would recommend to anyone interested in understanding what caused the crisis but not wanting to get bogged down in technical analyses

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Chris Downing
  • 04-22-10

What went wrong, in a way you'll understand.

The politicians blamed the bankers, the bankers blamed the poor, the business people blamed everyone and we didn't know who to blame. At last a book that tells what happened and where it all went wrong, without the writer needing to play a political or buisness position.

Be warned though, after listening to this you'll find it mighty hard to accept the bilge that passes for business, political and accepted truths about what is the World's biggest financial disaster. Do yourself a favour and wise up to what's been going on. Start taking action to avoid getting sucked in to all this. This story won't be completely played out for another ten years - so it's going to influence you, your wealth and income and your well being. Read the book and get ready.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Judy Corstjens
  • 06-23-11

Terrific

A dramatic story that leaves a normal person feeling very angry. The bad guys waltz off with millions and the good guys aren't exactly heroes either. Some details are a little hard to grasp for a layperson, but then again 99% of Wall Street insiders didn't quite understand the Ponzi scheme they were rolled up in either. An amazing tale of our times, well-told by an able story-teller.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • M. Griffiths
  • 02-19-17

Staggering

Great and awful story told in an engaging way through the eyes of a variety of players. I defy anybody to listen to this without having a visceral reaction.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Philip A.
  • 08-26-16

Dense financial detail made accessible

What did you like best about this story?

Explores complex minutae but in a way that illustrates the big picture about the financial industry as a whole

What does Michael Lewis and Jesse Boggs bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

I think I might have bogged down in the detail reading it myself

Any additional comments?

Anyone who wants to know how the financial crisis happened would find this very interesting

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Fiona
  • 08-03-16

fascinating

Fascinating account of the financial crisis if 2008, sub prime mortgage bonds, synthetic CDOs, a real eye opener.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Srjane
  • 07-25-16

If only I understood it all

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

I would recommend it to a historian or financial investor - but my dearest friends and family? No. I struggled to understand the terminology (even though it was fully explained in the book) and when things start going downhill - well I was totally lost.

What did you like best about this story?

I loved the insights into the financial markets and the characters that pervade that scene. It was great to see how the institutions look down on all us plebs and rip off everyone on such a grand scale. Scary

What does Michael Lewis and Jesse Boggs bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Loads of information and insights on how stock market works and also the world within the world and the influence at every level in society.

Did The Big Short inspire you to do anything?

It inspired me to see the film to see if it made more sense than the book. I got lost halfway through. The film sorted out the basics of the book but it also glossed over a lot that I still needed explaining.

Any additional comments?

I think you need an interest in stock markets and banking to really fully understand what happened here.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Craig Newns-Smith
  • 10-26-17

Hard to fathom it's based on a true story

Fascinating, enthralling, deeply concerning and eye-opening all at once. A story that beggars belief as it's set in an industry that many of us are aware of yet know so little about. The level of detail and explanation of financial products was spot on. Enough to raise and maintain interest yet not be so convoluted that it all became too hard to understand.
Have lessons actually been learnt from this crisis or are we on track to experience yet another version of this story? Only time will tell I guess and if it does, I'll be sure to listen to The Big Short 2

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  • Brian
  • 10-08-16

Great characters for non fiction

Really enjoyed this book, eclectic characters embellished the factual components and provide a background context and atmosphere.

Found the narration clear, could even Double speed it clearly.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Katie
  • 05-15-16

Great story and good mental test just to keep up

What did you like most about The Big Short?

I learnt something from this book and it was very topical. It was also a great workout for the synapses trying to follow the complex list of characters, transactions and jargon

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Graham B
  • 03-30-16

The details of a corrupt system. An eye opener.

A really well written them off corruption ignorance and deceit which unfortunately we tried and still resonates thought the world. This book also describes for a corrupt seem was asked from change after the GFC and how you're responsible for away with it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Trevor
  • 05-17-15

Awesome

don't think I have read/heard a bad book written by Michael Lewis, he makes history and facts fascinating reading/listening

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-09-17

boring

What would have made The Big Short better?

I could not keep my concentration in this book. It was monotonous with nothing of interest to make be continue listening.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Bhavik
  • 05-15-16

Mind blowing!!!

Fantastic account of what actually went down in 2008 financial crisis. It provides with tell tale signs that we need has to be looked out for even today. I am sure that financial crisis in the future would bet riggers by financial institutions rather than ordinary people not knowing how to manage finances.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful