Pub. Date:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

by Michael Lewis
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“Lewis shows again why he is the leading journalist of his generation.”—Kyle Smith, Forbes

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 pinata 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393343441
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 09/04/2012
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 185,826
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Michael Lewis is the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side, The Big Short, and The Undoing Project. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.

Date of Birth:

October 15, 1960

Place of Birth:

New Orleans, LA


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. 126 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.
vguy on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Laugh out loud funny, but also a clear explanation of much of what has brought the financial system into the present mess. Good character readings and cultural observations ( Schwarzenegger's crazy bike ride as metaphor of his political style, the icelanders who bump into you all the time, the german obsessions with rules and scheisse, Irish long-suffering in misfortune). overall we get a sense of a world gone mad and wonder how anything works at all.
GShuk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Uses story to tell how countries default on their debts. An easy entertaining insightful audio to listen to.
JerryColonna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Feels a bit out of date but Lewis' writing is brilliant AND scary.
gbelik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is an economics book which is really sociology and it is a delight. Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany and California and how economic catastrophe has played out in each of these societies. Witty and wise.
Periodista on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Certainly well written. It's the breezy style befitting Vanity Fair, where just about all these pieces originated. And yet terrifying. There are minute personality sketches (How about the Greek monks?), dubious national character sketches and mind-boggling stats.I had already read the Greece, Iceland and Ireland ones for free. I think the only new one might be the last one about California, where the first town had gone bankrupt and it sure looks like more are to come, starting with San Jose.This books is actually better than The Big Short in that Lewis attempts an overview of each country. The straits of Greece, Iceland and Ireland are so different, tho it defies rationality why there weren't whistle-blowers, journalists, investors and the IMF screaming the these economies could only go off the cliff. I now keep coming across pundits and comment slugs explaining the Greek crisis. But they only cite one thing at a time when what makes Greece's problems so intractable. But it's just so many things, in fact: the massive amounts of nat'l budget expenditures kept off the books, the national pastime of avoiding personal and corporate taxes, the generous benefits to hairdressers, railway workers, teachers, etc. retiring at 55. Not to mention all the govt workers employed in phantom jobs. Hard for me to understand why Germans (and the French) weren't better informed about the way Greeks do business.I found the rationale for Germany's own financial mess the least convincing: It bought stupid sub-prime bonds from Lehman Bros et al and lent so many billions to the Greek govt because Germans are so trusting and naive and believe numbers will keep them safe? Germany ain't Iceland and Germans have been doing international investment and trade for a very long time. They must know how to judge a govt solvency and corruption ration. OTOH, a great chunk of the reckless lending to Asian banks up to 1997 was by German banks. Lewis doesn't seem to be aware of this at all.I have long heard that a lot of municipal bonds all over the US might go bad but Lewis doesn't really show that the reasons for the underfunding of California's cities and towns are the same as in the rest of the country. I mean, Californians certainly are capable of raising and paying taxes. They are wealthy enough. They just aren't willing to. But it does remind of a theme in a recent New York interview of retiring rep Barney Frank. As Franks says, Americans want govt to provide all these services (so they are more politically liberal than most realize) but they don't want to pay taxes to pay for them. Which is how you end up with deficits, deficits that mount up over time.
addunn3 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A quick read that reviews the status of Ireland, Iceland, Greece, Germany, and California in the face of economic collapse.
Kathleen828 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Funny, incisive, mordant, clear and informative. Lewis encapsulates much of the current European economic chaos, and does not fear to share the blame around. One of the best 10 books I've read this year. Highly recommended.
dougcornelius on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Michael Lewis packages his stories on the effects of the global financial crisis in Iceland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, and California into one book: Boomerang. If you had ready the stories when they were published in Vanity Fair, then you've ready the book. If you missed some (or all) of those stories then this book is great viewpoint on how five countries got themselves into trouble with excessive debt.I had already read the first four articles when they appeared in Vanity Fair, but I had not yet gotten to the article on California. In fairness, Boomerang was a given to me as a gift so I did not come out of pocket to put it on my bookshelf. I enjoyed revisiting the four stories and the new California story.They each seemed to work better in the collection than standing on their own. Since each story is relatively short, they lack the depth and understanding I'm used to getting in one of Michael Lewis' books. Collectively, there is bit more depth as you can see how the five different countries got into trouble in different ways by becoming over-leveraged.It's a Michael Lewis book, so that means it's easy to read and smart. He has a gift for taking complicated subjects and using individuals to highlight how his theories work in the real world.
starkravingmad on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Moderately entertaining and informative, but lacking insight and a well-developed thesis that links the vignettes. He's written much, much better.
klh on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Entertaining and insightful. Puts human faces on the 2008 crash. Happy economies are all happy in the same way. Unhappy economies are each unhappy in their own unique way.
NewsieQ on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
After reading the author¿s The Big Short, which provided insight into the financial meltdown of 2008, I thought Boomerang might prove to be a lighter read. Although it was a fast read (I started and finished it the same day), Boomerang wasn¿t exactly light. In fact, reading it so quickly probably wasn¿t a great idea. In Boomerang, Michael Lewis visits four countries ¿ Iceland, Ireland, Greece and Germany ¿ to put a spotlight on three of Europe¿s faltering economies and one country that just might ¿save¿ them. The feeling these stories engendered was slight dyspepsia. Mr. Lewis has a curious ability to find quirky interview subjects, and often focuses on their insights and delusions, their strengths and weaknesses ¿ as he did in The Big Short. This he also does for the countries he visits. He also has a wonderful writing style ¿ comic and tragic in turns. He subtly outlines and illuminates the absurdities in his stories and subjects without bullying them or seeming moralistic or judgmental ¿ he leaves that up to his readers.Then the author visited one last country (the United States, specifically California). Piled on the other stories, reading about California¿s problems was just plain sad. When a prison guard in California earns $100,000 and is allowed to retire after five years and receive a pension almost that generous ¿ how can anyone believe that¿s sustainable? Yet California¿s political gridlock is not that much different from that of the US Congress ¿ and that doesn¿t bode well for any quick recovery from our economic doldrums.I¿ve read a string of books about Wall Street and the US economy recently, and that may seem like masochism to some people. Oddly, I feel better understanding the US and the world as they really are. It makes me feel I¿ll be able to sort out the rhetoric in next year¿s presidential and congressional elections and figure out whom to believe.
rivkat on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Greece, Ireland, Iceland, Germany, and the US: all places where people did very strange, foolish, and criminal things with money in the past decade, sometimes more than one of those at once, and where people (some of them overlapping with that first set) are now suffering for it. Lewis is more interested in looking for national differences than in causation, really, producing a book rich in small details and impoverished in explanations: everyone he meets seems bewildered about what happened, and he never does a lot to clear it up.
everfresh1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
As all Michael Lewis' books it's insightful and entertaining at the same time. It's a combination of anecdotal evidence and serious investigation that shows how such different countries as Iceland, Greece and Ireland took different paths to the same sad current state of affairs. It also shows - which we kind of knew - that US haven't fallen into the same financial abyss just by certain amount of luck and financial flexibility that we have. However, if nothing will change we will also get there. I wish that some descriptions of countries and politicians wouldn't look so like caricature though.
damcg63 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book scared the heck out of me.
dickmanikowski on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thank you, JoAnn, for recommending this book to me. It wasn't until I located the book at a local library that it was written by Michael Lewis, the author of one of my favorite books--Moneyball.The subtitle says it all: Travels in the New Third World. Michael Lewis provides context for the international economic crisis by visiting and profiling four regions that were semi-willingly victimized by it. Three of the regions are obvious in retrospect--Iceland, Ireland, and Greece.He also visits and profiles a region that finds itself at the epicenter of the world economy: Germany. Germany finds itself in the unenviable position of being the most likely source of funds to bail out the failing economies of other European countries.But it wasn't until the final chapter that I grew really uneasy. The fourth region that's on its way to joining the Third World is California. While his comments on former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger are laudatory (the guy did his legitimate best to govern an essentially ungovernable state and actually had some limited successes), the overall prospects of The Golden State are pretty bleak. The book closes with a visit to the bankrupt city of Vallejo, CA.
teckelvik on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a well-written, interesting overview of the economic collapse of 2008-2010, viewed from the different countries that were affected. I'm a regular reader of "The Economist," and there was nothing really new here, but it was put together well, with telling local details and an overarching analysis that I found helpful. I suspect that people who don't read "The Economist" or other financial publications would find it even more informative.I was very interested that it ended on an optimistic note. I hope that view is correct!