Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

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Overview

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 ...

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Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

Reviewing this book, The New York Times noted "Michael Lewis possesses the rare storyteller's ability to make virtually any subject both lucid and compelling." In this case, the subject concerns and fascinates us all. Focusing on several countries, the author of The Big Short and Moneyball writes about the run up and aftermath of the Great International Recession of 2008.

Catherine Whitlow

Publishers Weekly
Essentially an offbeat travelogue, Lewis's latest examines the recent global financial crisis by visiting the locales that have faltered beyond reasonable expectation. Though journalistic, there is a distinctly anthropological approach to vivid depictions of how particular cultural values contributed to such a bizarre, devastating series of events. In his dynamic narrative, Lewis simplifies complex financial systems without condescension, applies a degree of rationality to absurd decisions, and presents key individuals' profiles without denigration. Dark, deadpan humor is injected throughout: Iceland as a nation of fishermen-cum-hedge fund managers with "no idea what they were doing”; Greece's "fantastic mess” of scandalous monasteries, tax-evasion and top-down corruption; Ireland's busted banks and stratospheric losses debilitating a now "distinctly third world” country. Germany is singled-out for its "preternatural love of rules” and naiveté regarding the so-called "riskless asset” while California tops the list of "America's scariest financial places” following their ratings downgrade and piling debts. Easily devoured in one sitting, Lewis (Moneyball) manages to gracefully explain what happened with a unique regard for both the strengths and weaknesses of humankind. (Oct.)
New York Times
“Michael Lewis possesses the rare storyteller’s ability to make virtually any subject both lucid and compelling. In his new book, Boomerang, he actually makes topics like European sovereign debt, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank not only comprehensible but also fascinating… The book could not be more timely given the worries about Europe’s deepening debt crisis and the recent warning issued by Christine Lagarde, managing director of the I.M.F., that 'the current economic situation is entering a dangerous phase.'
Combining his easy familiarity with finance and the talents of a travel writer, Mr. Lewis sets off in these pages to give the reader a guided tour through some of the disparate places hard hit by the fiscal tsunami of 2008, like Greece, Iceland and Ireland, tracing how very different people for very different reasons gorged on the cheap credit available in the prelude to that disaster. The book — based on articles Mr. Lewis wrote for Vanity Fair magazine — is a companion piece of sorts to The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, his bestselling 2010 book about the fiscal crisis. Like that earlier book its focus is narrow. It doesn’t aspire to provide a broad overview of the debt crisis but instead hands the reader a small but sparkling prism by which to view the problem, this time from a global perspective.
At times Mr. Lewis can sound a lot like Evelyn Waugh: shrewd, observant and savagely judgmental, dispensing crude generalizations about other countries, even as he pokes fun at himself as a disaster tourist.
Mr. Lewis’s ability to find people who can see what is obvious to others only in retrospect or who somehow embody something larger going on in the financial world is uncanny. And in this book he weaves their stories into a sharp-edged narrative that leaves readers with a visceral understanding of the fiscal recklessness that lies behind today’s headlines about Europe’s growing debt problems and the risk of contagion they now pose to the world.”
New York Times
“Michael Lewis possesses the rare storyteller’s ability to make virtually any subject both lucid and compelling. In his new book, Boomerang, he actually makes topics like European sovereign debt, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank not only comprehensible but also fascinating… The book could not be more timely given the worries about Europe’s deepening debt crisis and the recent warning issued by Christine Lagarde, managing director of the I.M.F., that 'the current economic situation is entering a dangerous phase.'

Combining his easy familiarity with finance and the talents of a travel writer, Mr. Lewis sets off in these pages to give the reader a guided tour through some of the disparate places hard hit by the fiscal tsunami of 2008, like Greece, Iceland and Ireland, tracing how very different people for very different reasons gorged on the cheap credit available in the prelude to that disaster. The book — based on articles Mr. Lewis wrote for Vanity Fair magazine — is a companion piece of sorts to The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, his bestselling 2010 book about the fiscal crisis. Like that earlier book its focus is narrow. It doesn’t aspire to provide a broad overview of the debt crisis but instead hands the reader a small but sparkling prism by which to view the problem, this time from a global perspective.

At times Mr. Lewis can sound a lot like Evelyn Waugh: shrewd, observant and savagely judgmental, dispensing crude generalizations about other countries, even as he pokes fun at himself as a disaster tourist.

Mr. Lewis’s ability to find people who can see what is obvious to others only in retrospect or who somehow embody something larger going on in the financial world is uncanny. And in this book he weaves their stories into a sharp-edged narrative that leaves readers with a visceral understanding of the fiscal recklessness that lies behind today’s headlines about Europe’s growing debt problems and the risk of contagion they now pose to the world.”

Library Journal
The cheap credit available from 2002 to 2008 radically transformed societies worldwide, with Icelanders tossing aside their fishing gear to become bankers, for instance. Then the crunch came, and many of these societies are stumbling about as part of the "new Third World." As a greedy debtor nation, we're not so far behind. Lewis's books are always excellent and always best sellers, so this should be at the top of your list.
Kirkus Reviews
A world tour of nations that have collapsed financially or that played a role in the collapse of others. In his previous book, The Big Short (2010), Lewis dug deep into the housing-market failure that precipitated the economic collapse of 2007-08. Here the author tours Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany and California to compose a broader picture of what went wrong. Like Lewis' other bestsellers, this book is alternately wry, snarky, laugh-out-loud humorous, serious and, most importantly, filled with insights. The author is a master at explaining financially complex realms by casting them as narratives of individuals. In each place, he finds people famous, infamous and nearly anonymous who can fairly be rendered as villains or heroes. Each chapter started as an article for Vanity Fair, yet the seemingly disparate features coalesce nicely in the book. Lewis is willing to court danger by generalizing about the characteristics within each nation that led to unexpected consequences. As usual, the author delivers a nice balance of trenchant analysis and lucid writing. In regards to Greece, the most distressed nation of all, "it turned out, what the Greeks wanted to do, once the lights went out and they were alone in the dark with a pile of borrowed money, was turn their government into a piñata stuffed with fantastic sums and give as many citizens as possible a whack at it." An enlightening, scary journey.
Michiko Kakutani
Michael Lewis possesses the rare storyteller's ability to make virtually any subject both lucid and compelling. In…Boomerang, he actually makes topics like European sovereign debt, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank not only comprehensible but also fascinating—even, or especially, to readers, who rarely open the business pages or watch CNBC…Mr. Lewis's ability to find people who can see what is obvious to others only in retrospect or who somehow embody something larger going on in the financial world is uncanny. And in this book he weaves their stories into a sharp-edged narrative that leaves readers with a visceral understanding of the fiscal recklessness that lies behind today's headlines…
—The New York Times
Carlos Lozada
Lewis has a wonderful talent for distilling complicated stories, whether bond trading in New York (Liar's Poker) or a baseball-analysis revolution in Oakland (Moneyball), in simple terms and with telling detail. Boomerang…doesn't disappoint on this score.
—The Washington Post
New York Times - Michiko Kakutani
“Michael Lewis possesses the rare storyteller’s ability to make virtually any subject both lucid and compelling. . . . Combining his easy familiarity with finance and the talents of a travel writer, Mr. Lewis sets off in these pages to give the reader a guided tour through some of the disparate places hard hit by the fiscal tsunami of 2008, like Greece, Iceland and Ireland, tracing how very different people for very different reasons gorged on the cheap credit available in the prelude to that disaster. The book — based on articles Mr. Lewis wrote for Vanity Fair magazine — is a companion piece of sorts to The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, his bestselling 2010 book about the fiscal crisis. . . . Mr. Lewis’s ability to find people who can see what is obvious to others only in retrospect or who somehow embody something larger going on in the financial world is uncanny. And in this book he weaves their stories into a sharp-edged narrative that leaves readers with a visceral understanding of the fiscal recklessness that lies behind today’s headlines about Europe’s growing debt problems and the risk of contagion they now pose to the world.”
Boston Globe - Chuck Leddy
“Lewis’s rare gift as a guide through the world of credit default swaps and sovereign debt doesn’t come simply from his deep understanding of how the global financial system works . . . but also from his skill as a storyteller, his ability to tell the larger tale through fascinating human stories of greed, excess, and self-delusion.”
BookForum - Jessica Loudis
“[Lewis’s] explanations of thorny financial processes are surprisingly compelling, his characters entertaining.”
Jessica Loudis - BookForum
“[Lewis’s] explanations of thorny financial processes are surprisingly compelling, his characters entertaining.”
Chuck Leddy - Boston Globe
“Lewis’s rare gift as a guide through the world of credit default swaps and sovereign debt doesn’t come simply from his deep understanding of how the global financial system works . . . also his skill as a storyteller, his ability to tell the larger tale through fascinating human stories of greed, excess, and self-delusion.”
Michiko Kakutani - New York Times
“Michael Lewis possesses the rare storyteller’s ability to make virtually any subject both lucid and compelling. . . . Combining his easy familiarity with finance and the talents of a travel writer, Mr. Lewis sets off in these pages to give the reader a guided tour through some of the disparate places hard hit by the fiscal tsunami of 2008, like Greece, Iceland and Ireland, tracing how very different people for very different reasons gorged on the cheap credit available in the prelude to that disaster. The book — based on articles Mr. Lewis wrote for Vanity Fair magazine — is a companion piece of sorts to The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, his bestselling 2010 book about the fiscal crisis. . . . Mr. Lewis’s ability to find people who can see what is obvious to others only in retrospect or who somehow embody something larger going on in the financial world is uncanny. And in this book he weaves their stories into a sharp-edged narrative that leaves readers with a visceral understanding of the fiscal recklessness that lies behind today’s headlines about Europe’s growing debt problems and the risk of contagion they now pose to the world.”
Boston Globe
Lewis’s rare gift as a guide through the world of credit default swaps and sovereign debt doesn’t come simply from his deep understanding of how the global financial system works . . . but also from his skill as a storyteller, his ability to tell the larger tale through fascinating human stories of greed, excess, and self-delusion.— Chuck Leddy
BookForum
[Lewis’s] explanations of thorny financial processes are surprisingly compelling, his characters entertaining.— Jessica Loudis
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393081817
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/3/2011
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 692,482
  • Product dimensions: 5.84 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.85 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael  Lewis
Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, The Money Culture, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game, The Big Short, and Boomerang, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.

Biography

Twenty-four year-old Princeton graduate Michael Lewis had recently received his master's degree from the London School of Economics when Salomon Brothers hired him as a bond salesman in 1985. He moved to New York for training and witnessed firsthand the cutthroat, scruple-free culture that was Wall Street in the 1980s. Several months later, armed only with what he'd learned in training, Lewis returned to London and spent the next three years dispensing investment advice to Salomon's well-heeled clientele. He earned hundreds of thousands of dollars and survived a 1987 hostile takeover attempt at the firm. Nonetheless, he grew disillusioned with his job and left Salomon to write an account of his experiences in the industry. Published in 1989, Liar's Poker remains one of the best written and most perceptive chronicles of investment banking and the appalling excesses of an era.

Since then, Lewis has found great success as a financial journalist and bestselling author. His nonfiction ranges over a variety of topics, including U.S./Japanese business relations (Pacific Rift), the 1996 presidential campaign (Trail Fever), Silicon Valley (The New New Thing), and the Internet boom (Next: The Future Just Happened). He investigated the economics of professional sports in Moneyball (2003) and The Blind Side (2006); and, in 2008, he edited Panic, an anthology of essays about the major financial crises of 1990s and early "oughts."

Good To Know

Michael Lewis attended Isidore Newman School in his native New Orleans, LA -- a private college prep school that counts among its more distinguished alumni historian Walter Isaacson, children's book author Mo Willems, singer Harry Connick, Jr., and famous pro-football siblings Peyton and Eli Manning.
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    1. Date of Birth:
      October 15, 1960
    2. Place of Birth:
      New Orleans, LA
    1. Education:
      Princeton University, B.A. in Art History, 1982; London School of Economics, 1985

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 110 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(31)

4 Star

(41)

3 Star

(24)

2 Star

(5)

1 Star

(9)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 111 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 4, 2011

    Don't Waste Your Money...

    All five chapters can be found on the Vanity Fair website: I. Wall Street on the Tundra (Google: 'Wall Street on the Tundra') II. And They Invented Math (Google: 'Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds') III. Ireland's Original Sin (Google: 'When Irish Eyes are Crying') IV. The Secret Lives of Germans (Google: 'It's the Economy, Dummkopf!') V. To Fat to Fly: (Google: 'California and Bust')

    35 out of 49 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 4, 2011

    With the elections coming up this is a must. AND it's a good story.

    Economics is a very intimidating, as well as, confusing subject. Most of us avoided it in school. Now it's time to catch up. Economics being ignored is ruining our lives. Boomerang will catch you without being talked down to making you feel like you are back in school.

    Boomerang fills in the story behind the headlines. Mr. Lewis makes it palatable and fascinating.

    What you don't know will cause you more hard these days than finding out.

    20 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 12, 2011

    Excellent, Must Read

    I just finished Micheal Lewis' highly readable, informative book, Boomerang. On every page I wanted to call Mr. Lewis a liar as I knew that money managers, banks and government officials could not really be that stupid. Sadly, Mr. Lewis proves that they were really that stupid. I feel that the underlying message of this book is that we all have to wake up and be more accountable to ourselves and others. We cannot keep taking from the pot forever. One day the bill becomes due.

    7 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 4, 2011

    Crap

    Fifty pages of what you were expecting padded by one hundred pages of filler. A piece not worthy of past achievements.

    7 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    Do not waste your money

    Has some insights, but not nothing you could not have gotten from watching tv. Drags on way too long and i found myself skipping lots of pages to get to the heart of what each chapter is about. Once there, the material was lightweight. It should have a $0.99 price tag on it.......and perhaps even that is too much. Save your money.....this is not worth reading.

    6 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2012

    Lewis Does It Agian

    As a sports fan and economists Michael Lewis is easily one of my favorite writers. So, I'm sure my opinion is a tad biased. Still, this book is a great read. I saw one reviewer mention that you have to have a graduate degree in business or economics to comprehend the material, but I have to disagree. Lewis puts complicated stuff into an easy to read (and entertaining) format. DON'T read if your easily discomforted about the current (2008-2012+) economic situation because the book is a look at the seedy underbelly of the problems in the world.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 10, 2011

    If this was a high school textbook...

    If this was a high school textbook I think students may actually find economics, civics and history fun and interesting. There is a lot of really good material in this book on topics still in the news today. This is highly engaging, especially the story of his visit to the Greek monastery where he portrays the people he encountered in a sympathetic light while maintaining true to the subject matter. His words show that there are lots of different motives and causes for the things happening and illustrate that what we see on the news is a little flat by comparison. It would be too easy to try to paint a lot of characters in the financial deals as bad and he manages to steer clear of that. Instead these people on all sides are given to us to examine through their own words in most cases and we can see how many times the systemic problems are more of a contributor to the pain than the personal ones.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 28, 2011

    Decent enough

    Good for the less knowledgeable reader. Happy i read it. Cost is high considering. I would agree that it had more entertainment with facts rather than facts with entertainment. Usually though you get too many facts or opinions and that can make the reading ponderous. So i gave it more stars because it made me want to read more rather that less.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    Has me asking so what

    By the time I read this it was all old news and the outcome is still in debate as europe is not yet out of the woods. Its a good accurate and interesting read but leaves you asking zo what? The final chapter about the US situation is the best part.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2011

    Highly recommended

    This is an excellent book. It is very informative, contains many facts and reflects many very true amd humerous qualities of European characteristics.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 14, 2012

    Bah

    Tries so hard to be clever that he totally plotzes in germany and onnly talks about feces disappointingly a bummer

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 24, 2011

    Good writing

    Michael Lewis is one of those writers who writes clearly about even the most confusing subjects.

    Always worth a look.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 10, 2013

    Couldn't put the book down

    Enlightening and entertaining when i wasn't terrified

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  • Posted November 7, 2012

    I knew many facts that the author quoted on the book, but the wa

    I knew many facts that the author quoted on the book, but the way it put it, and by countries, the reader can come (specially generous politicians) to the conclucion: the culture of give up easy to the demand of irrational unions. I think Unions are fine, but somebody has to teach them what is chaos when society do not control itself its spending. The Clifornia case is exemplary. I recommend this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2012

    Great read

    This is a good book but reading it just gets me angry at all the greedy people who were trying to make so much money they screwed it up for everyone else.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2012

    Not good book

    I cant believe he did thtat ..



    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2012

    Wierd summary

    Looks like bad book because of summary but i could be wrong

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 30, 2011

    Disappointed in Missouri

    Nice stories with not much in recommendations

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  • Posted December 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    book review

    good book

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2011

    Very interesting

    Great book on the crisis we are going through today. Hope to see another one with the results

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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