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  • Writer's pictureJulie Erwin

The Big Short - The Book

The Big Short was written by Michael Lewis, an American author and financial journalist. The full title of the book is The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine and it was written in 2010.

What is The Big Short about?

The premise of The Big Short is a description of the build-up to the US housing bubble of the 2000s. Michael Lewis provides an in-depth account of the activities of the individuals who predicted it and ultimately made a lot of money betting that it would happen.

The Big Short book cover

These were based on real people, some of whom are fictionalised in the book. The Big Short goes into how the bubble developed and explains which financial instruments allowed traders to profit from the subsequent collapse.

What is Michael Lewis' background?

Born in New Orleans on 15 October 1960, Michael Lewis went to Princeton University to study art history, and later gained a Master’s degree at the London School of Economics (LSE). From there he moved to the investment bank Salomon Brothers, where he worked as a bond salesman. It is here that he gained first-hand knowledge of the financial industry, the subject of some of his most famous books.

Michael Lewis - author of The Big Short
Michael Lewis © Rex Features via AP Images

After leaving Salomon Brothers, Michael Lewis became a successful writer, receiving the National Book Award, amongst others. He has also worked as a financial journalist, receiving the Gerald Loeb Award for Business Journalism, and has taught financial journalism classes at the University of California, Berkeley.

Was The Big Short made into a film?

The Big Short was made into a 2015 film, directed by Adam McKay, with a star-studded line-up including Christian Bale, Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling and Brad Pitt. The book features many of the same characters seen in the later film, such such as Mark Baum, Jared Vennett and Michael Burry. Michael Lewis was closely involved with the screenplay of the film.

What did critics say about the book?

Reviews of the book were generally very positive. In The New York Times, Michiko Kakutani praised the book as "superbly well-written" and "a tour de force of reportage" that "reads like a thriller." In The Guardian, Ed Crooks described the book as "a gripping account" and "an astonishing story" that "reads like a novel."

In The Washington Post, Steven Pearlstein considered the book "an excellent primer on the factors that contributed to the crisis" and "a fascinating account of the people who saw it coming and made a killing betting on it."

The Big Short has been translated into many languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish, Danish, Polish, Czech, Hungarian, Romanian, Greek, Turkish, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and Arabic.

Has Michael Lewis written other books about trading?

Michael Lewis’ others books about trading include Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt and Liar’s Poker.

He is also famous for his books about politics (The Fifth Risk and Losers), Silicon Valley (The New New Thing), baseball (Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game and Coach: Lessons on the Game of Life) and American football (The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game).

His latest book, The Premonition, was published in 2021. In it he explores the US’ early response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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