Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis

Michael Lewis is an American non-fiction author and financial journalist. His bestselling books include The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Liar's Poker, The New New Thing, Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game, The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game, Panic, Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood and Boomerang. He is currently a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.

Lewis described his experiences at Salomon in Liar's Poker (1989). In The New New Thing (1999), he investigated the then-booming Silicon Valley and discussed obsession with innovation. Four years later, Lewis wrote Moneyball, in which he investigated the success of Billy Beane and the Oakland A's. In August 2007, he wrote an article about catastrophe bonds entitled "In Nature's Casino" that appeared in The New York Times Magazine.

Lewis has worked for The New York Times Magazine, as a columnist for Bloomberg, as a frequent contributor to The New Republic, and a visiting fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He wrote the Dad Again column for Slate. Lewis worked for Conde Nast Portfolio but in February 2009 left to join Vanity Fair, where he became a contributing editor.

In an interview at the 2010 National Book Awards, Tom Wolfe called Lewis one of two "writers to watch" (the other was Mark Bowden).

Inside the Doomsday Machine
(W.W. Norton, 2011)

As Pogo once said, "We have met the enemy and he is us."

The tsunami of cheap credit that rolled across the planet between 2002 and 2008 was more than a simple financial phenomenon: it was temptation, offering entire societies the chance to reveal aspects of their characters they could not normally afford to indulge.

Icelanders wanted to stop fishing and become investment bankers. The Greeks wanted to turn their country into a piñata stuffed with cash and allow as many citizens as possible to take a whack at it. The Germans wanted to be even more German; the Irish wanted to stop being Irish.

Michael Lewis's investigation of bubbles beyond our shores is so brilliantly, sadly hilarious that it leads the American reader to a comfortable complacency: oh, those foolish foreigners. But when he turns a merciless eye on California and Washington, DC, we see that the narrative is a trap baited with humor, and we understand the reckoning that awaits the greatest and greediest of debtor nations.

The Big Short
Inside the Doomsday Machine
(W.W. Norton, 2009)

A brilliant account—character-rich and darkly humorous—of how the U.S. economy was driven over the cliff. Truth really is stranger than fiction. Who better than the author of the signature bestseller Liar's Poker to explain how the event we were told was impossible—the free fall of the American economy—finally occurred; how the things that we wanted, like ridiculously easy money and greatly expanded home ownership, were vehicles for that crash; and how shareholder demand for profit forced investment executives to eat the forbidden fruit of toxic derivatives.

Michael Lewis's splendid cast of characters includes villains, a few heroes, and a lot of people who look very, very foolish: high government officials, including the watchdogs; heads of major investment banks (some overlap here with previous category); perhaps even the face in your mirror. In this trenchant, raucous, irresistible narrative, Lewis writes of the goats and of the few who saw what the emperor was wearing, and gives them, most memorably, what they deserve. He proves yet again that he is the finest and funniest chronicler of our times.

Home Game
An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood
(W.W. Norton, 2009)

Fatherhood for dummies -- a perfectly frank and mercilessly funny account. When he became a father, Michael Lewis found himself expected to feel things that he didn't feel, and to do things that he couldn't see the point of doing. At first this made him feel guilty, until he realized that all around him fathers were pretending to do one thing, to feel one way, when in fact they felt and did all sorts of things, then engaged in what amounted to an extended cover-up.

Lewis decided to keep a written record of what actually happened immediately after the birth of each of his three children. This book is that record. But it is also something else: maybe the funniest, most unsparing account of ordinary daily household life ever recorded from the point of view of the man inside. The remarkable thing about this story isn't that Lewis is so unusual. It's that he is so typical. The only wonder is that his wife has allowed him to publish it.

The Story of Modern Financial Insanity
(W.W. Norton, December 1, 2008)

A masterful account of today's money culture, showing how the underpricing of risk leads to catastrophe.

When it comes to markets, the first deadly sin is greed. Michael Lewis is our jungle guide through five of the most violent and costly upheavals in recent financial history: the crash of '87, the Russian default (and the subsequent collapse of Long-Term Capital Management), the Asian currency crisis of 1999, the Internet bubble, and the current sub-prime mortgage disaster. With his trademark humor and brilliant anecdotes, Lewis paints the mood and market factors leading up to each event, weaves contemporary accounts to show what peoplethought was happening at the time, and then, with the luxury of hindsight, analyzes what actually happened and what we should have learned from experience.

As he proved in Liar's Poker, The New New Thing, and Moneyball, Lewis is without peer in his understanding of market forces and human foibles. He is also, arguably, the funniest serious writer in America.

The Real Price of Everything
Rediscovering the Six Classics of Economics
(Sterling, 2008)

In his New York Times bestsellers Liar's Poker and Moneyball, Michael Lewis gave us an unprecedented look at what goes on behind the scenes on Wall Street. Now he takes us back across the centuries to explore the four classics that created and defined not just Wall Street, but the entire economic system we live under today. Brought together with Lewis's illuminating editorial commentary, they form an essential reference for any student of economics—in fact, for anyone who wants to understand the market forces and government policies that have shaped our world, and will continue to shape our future. Includes:

1776: The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith
1798: An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Malthus
1817: Principles of Political Economy and Taxationby David Ricardo
1899: The Theory of the Leisure Class: An Economic Study of Institutions by Thorstein Veblen
1936: The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money by John Maynard Keynes.

The Blind Side
Evolution of a Game
(W.W. Norton, 2006)

The young man at the center of this extraordinary and moving story will one day be among the most highly paid athletes in the National Football League. When we first meet him, he is one of thirteen children by a mother addicted to crack; he does not know his real name, his father, his birthday, or any of the things a child might learn in school—such as, say, how to read or write. Nor has he ever touched a football.

What changes? He takes up football, and school, after a rich, Evangelical, Republican family plucks him from the mean streets. Their love is the first great force that alters the world's perception of the boy, whom they adopt. The second force is the evolution of professional football itself into a game where the quarterback must be protected at any cost. Our protagonist turns out to be the priceless combination of size, speed, and agility necessary to guard the quarterback's greatest vulnerability: his blind side.

The Art of Winning an Unfair Game
(W.W. Norton, 2003)

The Oakland Athletics have a secret: a winning baseball team is made, not bought.

In major league baseball the biggest wallet is supposed to win: rich teams spend four times as much on talent as poor teams. But over the past four years, the Oakland Athletics, a major league team with a minor league payroll, have had one of the best records. Last year their superstar, Jason Giambi, went to the superrich Yankees. It hasn't made any difference to Oakland: their fabulous season included an American League record for consecutive victories.

Billy Beane, general manager of the Athletics, is putting into practice on the field revolutionary principles garnered from geek statisticians and college professors. Michael Lewis's brilliant, irreverent reporting takes us from the dugouts and locker rooms—where coaches and players struggle to unlearn most of what they know about pitching and hitting—to the boardrooms, where we meet owners who begin to look like fools at the poker table, spending enormous sums without a clue what they are doing. Combine money, science, entertainment, and egos, and you have a story that Michael Lewis is magnificently suited to tell.

The Future Just Happened
(W.W. Norton, 2001)

A mordantly funny exploration of the brave new world spawned by the Internet.

In Liar's Poker the barbarians seized control of the bond markets. In The New New Thing some guys from Silicon Valley redefined the American economy. Now, with his knowing eye and wicked pen, Michael Lewis reveals how the Internet boom has encouraged great changes in the way we live, work, and think. He finds that we are in the midst of one of the greatest status revolutions in the history of the world, and the Internet is a weapon in the hands of revolutionaries. The old priesthoods—lawyers, investment gurus, professionals in general—have been toppled. The amateur, or individual, is king: fourteen-year-old children manipulate the stock market; nineteen-year-olds take down the music industry; and wrestlers get elected to public office. Deep, unseen forces seek to undermine all forms of collectivism, from the mass market to the family. Where does it all lead? And will we like where we end up?

The New New Thing
A Silicon Valley Story
(W.W. Norton, 1999)

The book that does for Silicon Valley what "Liar's Poker" did for Wall Street.

In the weird glow of the dying millennium, Michael Lewis sets out on a safari through Silicon Valley to find the world's most important technology entrepreneur, the man who embodies the spirit of the coming age. He finds him in Jim Clark, who is about to create his third, separate, billion-dollar company: first Silicon Graphics, then Netscape-which launched the Information Age-and now Healtheon, a startup that may turn the $1 trillion healthcare industry on its head.

Despite the variety of his achievements, Clark thinks of himself mainly as the creator of "Hyperion," which happens to be a sailboat . . . not just an ordinary yacht, but the world's largest single-mast vessel, a machine more complex than a 747. Clark claims he will be able to sail it via computer from his desk in San Francisco, and the new code may contain the seeds of his next billion-dollar coup.

On the wings of Lewis's celebrated storytelling, the reader takes the ride of a lifetime through this strange landscape of geeks and billionaires. We get the inside story of the battle between Netscape and Microsoft; we sit in the room as Clark tries to persuade the investment bankers that Healtheon is the next Microsoft; we get queasy as Clark pits his boat against the rage of the North Atlantic in winter. And in every brilliant anecdote and character sketch, Lewis is drawing us a map of markets and free enterprise in the twenty-first century.

Liar's Poker
(W.W. Norton, 1989)

In this shrewd and wickedly funny book, Michael Lewis describes an astonishing era and his own rake's progress through the jungle of a powerful investment bank. In two short years he rose from trainee to a bond salesman who could turn over millions of dollars' worth of doubtful bonds with just one call.

Trail Fever
(Knopf, 1997)

A wickedly funny and astute chronicle of the 1996 presidential campaign--and how we go about choosing our leaders at the turn of the century. In it Michael Lewis brings to the political scene the same brilliance that distinguished his celebrated best-seller about the financial world, Liar's Poker.

Beginning with the primaries, Lewis traveled across America--a concerned citizen who happened to ride in candidates' airplanes (as well as rented cars in blinding New Hampshire blizzards) and write about their adventures. Among the contenders he observed: Pat Buchanan, a walking tour of American anger; Lamar Alexander, who appealed to people who pretend to be nice to get ahead; Steve Forbes, frozen in a smile and refusing to answer questions about his father's motorcycles; Alan Keyes, one of the great political speakers of our age, whom no one has ever heard of; Morry Taylor—"the Grizz"—the hugely successful businessman who became the refreshing embodiment of ordinary Americans' appetites and ambitions; Bob Dole, a man who set out to prove he would never be president; and Bill Clinton, the big snow goose who flew too high to be shot out of the sky.

We watch the clichés of this peculiar subculture collide with characters from the real world: a pig farmer in Iowa; an evangelical preacher in Colorado Springs; a homeless person in Manhattan; a prospective illegal immigrant in Mexico. The politicians speak and speak, often reversing positions, denying direct quotations, mastering the sound bite, dodging hard questions, wreaking havoc on the English language. Spin doctors spin. Rented strangers (campaign workers) proliferate. One particular toe sucker goes awry. Ads are honed to misrepresent and distort. Money makes the world go round.

And the citizens are left dumbfounded or cheering empty platitudes. When trail fever breaks on Election Day, half of America's eligible voters stay home.

This book offers a striking look at us and our politics and the mammoth unlikelihood of connection between the inauthentic modern candidate and the voter's passions, needs, and desires. In telling the story, Michael Lewis once again proves himself a masterful observer of the American scene.

The Money Culture
(Penguin, 1992)

An intrepid and mercilessly sharp-sighted safari through the financial jungles of the 1980s--from the author of the New York Times bestseller Liar's Poker. With devastating wit and a flair for unveiling the smoke and mirrors of high finance, Lewis takes a new look at many of the most influential and devastating episodes of the get-rich-quick decade.

The Blind Side

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. As he did so memorably for baseball in Moneyball, Lewis takes a statistical X-ray of the hidden substructure of football, outlining the invisible doings of unsung players that determine the outcome more than the showy exploits of point scorers. In his sketch of the gridiron arms race, first came the modern, meticulously choreographed passing offense, then the ferocious defensive pass rusher whose bone-crunching quarterback sacks demolished the best-laid passing game, and finally the rise of the left tackle—the offensive lineman tasked with protecting the quarterback from the pass rusher—whose presence is felt only through the game-deciding absence of said sacks. A rare creature combining 300 pounds of bulk with "the body control of a ballerina," the anonymous left tackle, Lewis notes, is now often a team's highest-paid player. Lewis fleshes this out with the colorful saga of left tackle prodigy Michael Oher. An intermittently homeless Memphis ghetto kid taken in by a rich white family and a Christian high school, Oher's preternatural size and agility soon has every college coach in the country courting him obsequiously. Combining a tour de force of sports analysis with a piquant ethnography of the South's pigskin mania, Lewis probes the fascinating question of whether football is a matter of brute force or subtle intellect. Photos. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


From Publishers Weekly
Putting an engaging and irreverent spin on yesterday's news, Lewis (Liar's Poker; The New, New Thing) declares that power and prestige are up for grabs in this look at how the Internet has changed the way we live and work. Probing how Web-enabled players have exploited the fuzzy boundary between reality and perception, he visits three teenagers who have assumed startling roles: Jonathan Lebed, the 15-year-old New Jersey high school student who made headlines when he netted $800,000 as a day trader and became the youngest person ever accused of stock-market fraud by the SEC; Markus Arnold, the 15-year-old son of immigrants from Belize who edged out numerous seasoned lawyers to become the number three legal expert on AskMe.com; and Daniel Sheldon, a British 14-year-old ringleader in the music-file-sharing movement. Putting himself on the line, Lewis is freshest in his reportage, though he doesn't pierce the deeper cultural questions raised by the kids' behavior. As a financial reporter tracing the development of innovative industries like black box interactive television and interactive political polling from their beginnings as Internet brainstorms, Lewis reminds readers that the twin American instincts to democratize and commercialize intertwine on the Internet, and can only lead to new business. In the past, Lewis implies, industry insiders would simply have shut out eager upstarts, yet today insiders, like AOL Time Warner, allow themselves "to be attacked in order to later co-opt their most ferocious attackers and their best ideas." Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

The New New Thing

The New York Times Book Review, Kurt Andersen
It is a splendid, entirely satisfying book, intelligent and fun and revealing and troubling in the correct proportions, resolutely skeptical but not at all cynical...

Wall Street Journal, Fred Moody, 22 October 1999
[R]emarkable....Clark proves to be a character as enthralling as any in American fiction or non-fiction....Lewis tells a great story in this book, with prose that ranges from the beautiful to the witty to the breathtaking.

The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani, 26 October 1999
[Lewis] does for the late 1990s world of techno-geeks and software cowboys what he did in Liar's Poker for the 1980s Wall Street world of traders and arbitrageurs.

Time, Joshua Quittner, 25 October 1999
[A] superb book....[Lewis] makes Silicon Valley as thrilling and intelligible as he made Wall Street in his best-selling Liar's Poker.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, 31 October 1999
Lewis brilliantly describes Clark's intensity and passion, his genius for technology and leadership and his impatience with convention. He also faithfully chronicles Clark's ruthlessness, willingness to exact revenge on opponents and ability to casually upset people's lives. The fact that these last qualities are described in almost complimentary terms reflects a Silicon Valley sensibility that they're laudable.

Wired "Must Read," November 1999
...Michael Lewis takes readers inside the now-familiar world of Silicon Valley excess, the frantic deal making, the absurdly hyped expectations, the phenomenal wealth. But the 39-year old best-selling author of Liar's Pokerand The Money Culture brings something genuinely exotic to the mix: near-total access to one of the Valley's biggest and most enigmatic players.

Joe Nocera, Slate, 25 October 1999
Michael Lewis' The New New Thing is the best book ever written about Silicon Valley. There. I've said it. Said it to you (wondering, to be sure, whether you agree--do you?); said it to the readers of Slate; but most of all, I've said it to myself. Michael Lewis' The New New Thing is the best book ever written about Silicon Valley. There. I've said it again.

Newsweek, Steven Levy, 25 October 1999
[Lewis] has a natural talent for spinning hilarious scenes and uncovering wicked details.

Business Week, Robert D. Hof, 8 November 1999
[Lewis's] incisive and entertaining volume largely succeeds in getting past the glitter of money to identify the real key to the Valley's vibrancy: new ideas....Lewis provides a look that is penetrating as anything written so far.

Publishers Weekly starred review, 27 September 1999
Lewis has created an absorbing and extremely literate profile of one of America's most successful entrepreneurs.... he provides a detailed look at the professional life of one of the men who have changed the world as we know it.

From Booklist , October 1, 1999
Lewis, in his eye-opening and best-selling Liar's Poker (1989), told tales on himself: about his meteoric rise from trainee at Salomon Brothers investment firm to very successful trader. Now he tells tales on someone else: Jim Clark, who created Netscape and thus "triggered the Internet boom." To write this profile, Lewis more or less shadowed Clark for a while, and dogging him meant participating in Clark's transatlantic journey in his obsessively designed, totally computerized sailing ship, Hyperion. Lewis' book, in effect, provides a look at the whole computer industry, for the more we learn about Clark, the more we learn about the industry as a whole. Silicon Valley, referred to as "the greatest legal creation of wealth in the history of the planet," is the Wall Street of the 1990s, and Clark is a primary mover and shaker. He is strictly an idea man, coming up with new ideas of how to make millions and leaving his engineers to arrive at workable details. Clark, as we follow and marvel at his career, invents his life as he goes along. What drives him is his abiding need to pursue new concepts and experiences. He is protypical of the superwealthy leadership in Silicon Valley: "the geek holed up in his basement all weekend discovering new things to do with his computer." That's the point of the Silicon Valley computer industry: people don't have to build new computers to make a fortune, they just have to devise new things for the computer to do. This book will prove very popular, not only with readers interested in business and computers but also with those who are simply curious about "the new new thing."
-- Brad Hooper Copyright© 1999, American Library Association. All rights reserved

Kirkus Reviews
A rip-roaring profile of the high-rolling technology entrepreneur Jim Clark, and the strange Silicon Valley subculture in which he thrives, from one of our best business journalists. Michael Lewis, the petulant sprite whose Liar's Poker(1989) hilariously exposed the venalities of Wall Street investment bankers, vies for Tom Wolfe's ice cream suit with an effortlessly glib account of how the last decade turned Jim Clark, a middle-aged, chronically depressed Texas-born physicist whose futuristic concepts earned him little more than ridicule, into a Promethean, globe-trotting billionaire vainly searching for the next new thing that might make him happy. ...Funny, feverishly romantic business reporting in which the American lust for wealth becomes a Byronic quest for the next dream that will change the world.

San Jose Mercury News, Jeffrey Klein, 10 October 1999
The New New Thing is bound to become the big big book of the fall season, and deservedly so.

Forbes, Rich Karlgaard, 18 October 1999
[A] great book....The New New Thing is the best Silicon Valley book to come out yet.

Salon, Mark Gimein, 22 October 1999
Like all Lewis' writing, The New New Thing is funny. It is funny in a wry, carefully observed way -- "Gibagibagibagiba," babbles a baby unfortunately brought to a gathering of investment bankers. It is funny also in a slashing, profane way: "Clark's friends who did not know Ed McCracken," writes Lewis of Clark's early nemesis, "came to believe the man's name was Fucking Ed McCracken." Yet what makes The New New Thing an exceptional book is not how funny it is, but how closely it sticks to a mission of investigating the mythic properties of Clark's singularly mercurial character.

Michael Lewis discusses The Big Short and the future of finance
University of California Berkeley Haas School of Business | September 13, 2010

Author Michael Lewis discusses his book The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, the future of finance as he sees it, and his thoughts on whether today's business students have a chance at changing it. Part of the Dean's Speaker Series, co-sponsored by the Center for Responsible Business as part of its Peterson Series on Sustainable Finance.

Interview by Charlies Rose on PBS | October 4, 2011

Michael Lewis discusses his book Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World.

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