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Liars Poker [Hardcover]

Michael Lewis
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (160 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Nov. 1 1989
In this shrewd and wickedly funny book, Michael Lewis describes an astonishing era and his own rake's progress through the jungle of a powerful investment bank. In two short years he rose from trainee to a bond salesman who could turn over millions of dollars' worth of doubtful bonds with just one call.

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Liars Poker + Big Short, The + Flash Boys
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From Library Journal

As described by Lewis, liar's poker is a game played in idle moments by workers on Wall Street, the objective of which is to reward trickery and deceit. With this as a metaphor, Lewis describes his four years with the Wall Street firm Salomon Brothers, from his bizarre hiring through the training program to his years as a successful bond trader. Lewis illustrates how economic decisions made at the national level changed securities markets and made bonds the most lucrative game on the Street. His description of the firm's personalities and of the events from 1984 through the crash of October 1987 are vivid and memorable. Readers of Tom Wolfe's The Bonfire of the Vanities ( LJ 11/15/87) are likely to enjoy this personal memoir. BOMC and Fortune Book Club selection.
- Joseph Barth, U.S. Military Acad . Lib., West Point, N.Y.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Lewis takes the reader through his schoolboy's progress as trainee and geek in the trading room, to high-powered swashbuckler. The author has a puckish appreciation for the comic. Yet he also has the knack of explaining precisely how complex deals really work. He provides the most readable explanation I've seen anywhere of the origin within Salomon Brothers of the mortgage-backed securities market....It is good history, and a good story. "

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First Sentence
IT WAS sometime early in 1986, the first year of the decline of my firm, Salomon Brothers. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good read for a finance novice too! June 21 2004
I picked up this book as it is highly popular among investment bankers. I am not an investment banker and do not intend to be one but I was keen to find out what makes Wall Street special. The book not only satisfied my curiosity but also was pleasantly amusing.
The author traces the glorious and gloomy times of Salomon Brothers, a big financial enterprise in which he worked long enough to be able to tell this tale and become a rich man. He explains some financial innovations of Salomon brother's in lay man's terms, which makes this book very readable for all.
The author's self-deprecating humor and his vivid analysis of the people he came across in his organization make the account entertaining.
Whether or not the author's opinions on technical matters in this book are meritorious-I am not qualified to say. If you are a finance novice and curious to find out about life in that universe, you will find this book worthwhile.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Remember the Savings & Loans debacle? May 26 2004
This is the author's coming of age story, set in the world of investment banking in the 1980s. As a growth and wisdom book, it's pretty good, but it's really a non-fiction version of Tom Wolf's Bonfire of the Vanities. Of course what makes it interesting is that Michael Lewis came of age by successfully trading bonds for Solomon Brothers.
Among other aspects of the firm, LP describes Solomon's Mortgage Bonds department, its influence over the savings and loans, and the effect of Fed Chairman Paul Volker's 1981 decision to let interest rates float. Lewis does a brilliant job of explaining how this lead to S&L's selling their mortgages in order to fund investments in higher yield securities.
Here's the catch: Liar's Poker appeared before the S&L debacle but it laid out all the signs needed to predict the disaster to come.
Much of the hand wringing over S&Ls in the early 90's could maybe have been avoided if the warnings given in this book had been acted upon. To be fair, the warnings are clear but they are implicit. Lewis never actually projects the current state of the S&L industry into the future, even if he does mention that the basic problem with mortgages (short term funding of long term loans) is not solved.
Good read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
My expectations of this book were perhaps mislead. I thought that this would deal with more the generalized view of Wall Street. However, it really concentrates on the lives of traders.
Lewis does shed some light on Wall Street trading in general, including a good description of mortgage trading and junk bond trading. However, this book sort of throws it into the mix. I wasn't sure what Lewis was trying to do. Sometimes it felt like a history book, sometimes a biography, sometimes an economics lesson, sometimes a comedy. It felt haphazard and lacked direction, and with the writing style presented, it lacked a certain amount of fluidity.
It was fun to learn the different people in Wall Street. From the obese, abusive traders, the short sighted and greedy executives, the brown nosers, to the "back row" trainees. It's basically a fun little description of office life at Solomon Brothers in the eighties, not an exciting expose on the finance industry as the cover would like you to believe.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A little melodramatic, but still a classic Dec 8 2003
Michael Lewis's ten-year-old account of his two-year stint as a bond salesman at Salomon Brothers has become a literary classic in the world of finance, and has probably stroked aspirations in more Wall Street-bound MBAs than any other book. I know many an individual who, after reading the book, become so enamored with the culture described therein that they take it upon themselves to act like the "human piranha" or any of the other clownish characters from the book.
Having worked on Wall Street in various client-facing capacities over the years, especially as a trader with a volatile fund, I feel the book is a bit over melodramatic and over-sensational. Are there such personas on Wall Street? Absolutley. In fact the real people on Wall Street -- the traders, the whiteshoe i-bankers, the jewish deal-makers and deal-breakers -- can be even meaner, nastier than Lewis describes. But the clownish characters he creates are probably more fiction than real. Still, his observation that most traders have huge egos and are among the most despicable human beings (despite their MBAs, Ph.D.s, or MDs) to ever walk on earth, is deadly accurate. The constant politicking is captured vividly by the author, although, again, his writing seems to border on fiction quite often.
Don't take me wrong; I think this is a must-read for anyone interested in how Wall Street breathes and works. Lewis does a fine job at exposing the disgusting nature of greed, the only thing that feeds Wall Street's daily existence.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing read for any market enthusiast July 13 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Lewis shows the ins and outs of a company at its peak and at its demise... Amazing read and turned out to be a real page turner. Would defiantly recommend this to anyone who has interest in the markets. Very easy read as well!
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5.0 out of 5 stars for sure a great read June 22 2013
By Ddog
Format:Kindle Edition
Really great book a must read for all traders or wanna be'll know if u still wanna be.....or is it just the money
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4.0 out of 5 stars Looking under the covers at a Wall Street firm. April 5 2013
By Warren
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Michael gives the reader an inside look at one firm on Wall St. The story is not new: greed, power, money. It never changes. This look from the 1980's does lay some of the ground work for what happened in 2008. Of course Michael would not have realized it when he wrote this book. You may have your opinions of how the Street opporates, this just confirms how one firm went about their daily activities from the view point of a rookie working his way into and up the success ladder at a major Wall Street Firm.
Easy read.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious and Wicked
I highly recommend the audio version read by Michael Lewis.

This is the funniest book ever written about trading. Read more
Published 12 months ago by NeroTulip1961
5.0 out of 5 stars Different story about the financial street
I love Michael Lewis books. Well researched, well written with a touch of humor. All his books are a must
Published 13 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favourite Book About Wall Street
Care for an insight into the world of greedy Wall Street Investment Bankers of the 1980s? If the answer is yes, then this is definitely the book for you.
Published on June 22 2011 by S. Ghavami
4.0 out of 5 stars fun and hilarious
Lewis makes the world of Wall Street come alive in hilarious absurdity in this classic. Wears its age well in 2011, even though the book has been around 20+ years. Read more
Published on May 11 2011 by Rodge
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable read
It is an enjoyable read. It should be no surprise to people who have read other books by Michael Lewis, that he tells a story with humor and is just a great storyteller in... Read more
Published on March 20 2011 by B.H
5.0 out of 5 stars Liar's Poker
Very well written, easily one of the best books I have read to date... The best Christmas present I received this year. Read more
Published on Jan. 26 2011 by marketmkr
5.0 out of 5 stars liars poker
a must read to start to comprehend the scope and roots of the market collapse of 2008. Helps one to see wall street for what it truly represents; an unregulated pyramid scheme!
Published on June 16 2010 by Jackson Mooney
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick account of a telling experience at Salomon Brothers
With a Douglas Coupland-like flair for summarizing and humanizing organizational culture, Micheal Lewis has forged a business-school classic in a bite-sized read. Read more
Published on April 10 2010 by Trevor G. Stack
5.0 out of 5 stars very good book
An excellent story that shows how the real world of a giant brokerage firm works, and how they dictated the market for a period of time.
Published on March 19 2010 by S. Zehlawi
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Inside View Of Wallstreet
I read this book back when it was a best seller. Lewis gives us a great insight into the world of Salomon Brothers. Read more
Published on June 8 2009 by Patrick Sullivan
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