Thursday, November 24, 2016

Lewis, Michael (The Big Short)

No question, this was difficult for me - as someone not a financial analyst and not understanding the complexities of Wall Street and its kin. Yes, I'd seen the movie, and now I will return to the movie to better grasp how Lewis created a narrative cogent enough for someone else to visually depict it.

Because, seriously, I had to have someone else who has both read the book and watched the movie twice help me through this book. Lewis wrote something obviously compelling to many - including the government trying to understand the crisis after the fact! - but it can be somewhat of a slog. I did my best to understand all the most important bits and pieces, but I'm not sure I will be able to tell you tomorrow what a CDO or a CDS is. This kind of fact-retention is not in my wheelhouse. If it is in yours, you will have an easier time; if not, don't work as hard as I did to understand every phrase.

Because, all told, the value of reading a Michael Lewis book is to see how deftly he makes his arguments. His style of writing is informal enough (and frankly, repetitive enough) that you will be able to repeat the main thrust of the argument in the same terms. This, in conjunction with a genius to take super-crunchy themes - his books will always be about math and statistics, I'll bet you - and make them (mostly) understandable to the layperson, is why his writing is so powerful.

With this book, we all know intimately the heartbreak this crisis called. If it didn't happen to you, it happened to someone you loved. Which is why everyone should read this - so that we can not forget the past as we move into the future.

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