Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

3.7 110
by Michael Lewis, Dylan Baker
     
 

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From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Big Short, Liar’s Poker and The Blind Side!

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

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Overview


From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Big Short, Liar’s Poker and The Blind Side!

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.

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.

The trademark of Michael Lewis’s bestsellers is to tell an important and complex story through characters so outsized and outrageously weird that you’d think they have to be invented. (You’d be wrong.) In Boomerang, we meet a brilliant monk who has figured out how to game Greek capitalism to save his failing monastery; a cod fisherman who, with three days’ training, becomes a currency trader for an Icelandic bank; and an Irish real estate developer so outraged by the collapse of his business that he drives across the country to attack the Irish Parliament with his earth-moving equipment.

Lewis’s investigation of bubbles beyond our shores is so brilliantly, sadly hilarious that it leads the American listener to a comfortable complacency: Oh, those foolish foreigners. But when Lewis 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.

“No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Lewis.”

—Michiko Kakutani, New York Times

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Audio
Part travelogue, part finance journalism, this latest from Lewis tours the countries hardest hit by the financial crisis of 2008—e.g., Iceland, Greece, and Ireland—taking on complex economic issues filled with arcane minutiae and making them utterly compelling. Over the course of his travels, Lewis has numerous culture clashes: while touring Iceland he boards in a room with a natural heat source "so powerful... that some great grinding, wheezing engine must be deployed to prevent it from cooking me." Dylan Baker offers up folksy, everyman narration that is clear and entertaining. He both elucidates complicated financial passages for listeners and captures the spirit of Lewis's adventures. Additionally, Baker is adept at conveying Lewis's dry—and slightly morbid—sense of humor. A W.W. Norton hardcover. (Oct.)
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
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.)
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
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 - 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.”
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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442341258
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster Audio
Publication date:
10/03/2011
Edition description:
Unabridged
Pages:
6
Product dimensions:
5.24(w) x 5.80(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Lewis is the author of Panic!, Liar’s Poker, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, and Home Game, among other works. He lives in Berkeley, California.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
October 15, 1960
Place of Birth:
New Orleans, LA
Education:
Princeton University, B.A. in Art History, 1982; London School of Economics, 1985

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Boomerang 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 110 reviews.
chelseasdad More than 1 year ago
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')
Studiothyme More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Bobg1 More than 1 year ago
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.
committedsavage More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
jhmJM More than 1 year ago
Michael Lewis is one of those writers who writes clearly about even the most confusing subjects. Always worth a look.
Marxo More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent book. It is very informative, contains many facts and reflects many very true amd humerous qualities of European characteristics.
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Enlightening and entertaining when i wasn't terrified
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Bocho More than 1 year ago
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.
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