The Big Short

  • by Michael Lewis
  • Narrated by Jesse Boggs
  • 9 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Featuring an exclusive audio interview with Michael Lewis
When the crash of the U.S. stock market became public knowledge in the fall of 2008, it was already old news. The real crash, the silent crash, had taken place over the previous year, in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn’t shine, and the SEC doesn’t dare, or bother, to tread: the bond and real-estate derivative markets, where geeks invent impenetrable securities to profit from the misery of lower- and middle-class Americans who can’t pay their debts. The smart people who understood what was or might be happening were paralyzed by hope and fear; in any case, they weren’t talking.
The crucial question is this: Who understood the risk inherent in the assumption of ever-rising real-estate prices, a risk compounded daily by the creation of those arcane, artificial securities loosely based on piles of doubtful mortgages?
Michael Lewis turns the inquiry on its head to create a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his number-one best-selling Liar’s Poker. "Who got it right?" he asks. Who saw the ever-rising real-estate market for the black hole it would become, and eventually made billions of dollars from that perception? And what qualities of character made those few persist when their peers and colleagues dismissed them as Chicken Littles?
Out of this handful of unlikely—really unlikely—heroes, Lewis fashions a story as compelling and unusual as any of his earlier best sellers, proving yet again that he is the finest and funniest chronicler of our times.


What the Critics Say

“No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis....[he] does a nimble job of using his subjects’ stories to explicate the greed, idiocies and hypocrisies of a system notably lacking in grown-up supervision....Writing in faintly Tom Wolfe-ian prose, Mr. Lewis does a colorful job of introducing the lay reader to the Darwinian world of the bond market.” (Michiko Kakutani - The New York Times)
“Superb: Michael Lewis doing what he does best, illuminating the idiocy, madness and greed of modern finance. . . . Lewis achieves what I previously imagined impossible: He makes subprime sexy all over again.” (Andrew Leonard -
"[Michael Lewis] is the finest storyteller of our generation.” (Malcolm Gladwell)


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Very good, very infuriating, but a little narrow

First off, this book tells its story well - its a story of the traders who saw the subprime crisis coming, and, by examining how they managed to bet against the market, the book also illuminates exactly how the subprime debacle occurred. Lewis does a wonderful job showing how so many very smart people made so many stupid assumptions, based on a mix of bad data, bad organizations ("its not my job to worry"), and the most infuriating forms of cheating, lying, and bad-dealing.

My problem with the book, and it is a minor one, is that by staying so narrowly focused on this topic, it tends to follow the progression of a few traders and managers throughout the book, often in great detail. This can make it hard to follow the larger story of the context and economic dealings that surround "The Big Short", especially in audiobook format. Also, since not all of the characters are equally interesting, attention can also wander during parts. Additionally, I suspect that the truly uninitiated will be somewhat confused by terminology - the book assumes you know what "hedging" is and how it works from near the beginning, for example.

While the reader is good, but not great, Lewis is still a great writer, and the story is compact, fascinating, and important. I recommend it, but perhaps only to those who know a little about the subprime crisis to begin with.
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- Ethan M. "On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through"

Informative and Engaging

Lewis should be heralded for the way he takes a very complex idea (sub-prime mortgage default swap collateral debt obligations) and breaks it down into easy-to-understand language. If you were at all confused about how the financial system tanked in 2008, you'll be glad you read this book and also pretty disgusted at the kind of magical thinking that went on on Wall Street. But what makes this book readable is his characterization of three oracular entities (Mike Burry, Steve Eisman, and the Cornwall Capital Group) that foresaw the collapse before anyone else ever did. The characters come across as misanthropic, boisterous, and naive respectively and allow the reader to see the tragedy through three very different perspectives. A read you won't want to put down (...or turn off).
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- Jay

Book Details

  • Release Date: 03-15-2010
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio