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The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine Audiobook, by Michael Lewis Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Michael Lewis Narrator: Jesse Boggs Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: March 2010 ISBN: 9781442300064
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Michael Lewis is the writer of Liar's Poker which came out in 1989. Even back then, Lewis was writing about Wall Street and the levels of corruption that existed in that milieu. He freely admitted that he was part of this corrupt movement and boasted about his year-end bonus in that book. In The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Lewis gives us yet another insider look at what led to the financial crisis of 2008 which is going to cost the economy several trillion dollars. He does this by following the careers of three people who saw the direction in which the economy was heading and decided to make a killing from it.

There are two character types in financial markets—the long and the short. Whereas the long invests in a security that is not currently doing well in hopes that it will do so in the long run, the short sells off the security whose price, he suspects, is going to plummet and plans to buy it back cheaply at a later date. The stories of Steve Eisman, Michael Burry and Charlie Ledley are examples of those who shorted securities and made several hundreds of million dollars in 2008.

Eisman recognized that the housing market didn't perform the kind of analysis necessary before handing out mortgages and made money by selling off the worst of these. Michael Burry is a doctor with Asperger's who started a fund with some money that came his way as a settlement. He started looking into bonds and, realizing how much lending standards had fallen, made money by shorting subprime mortgage bonds. Charlie Ledley came to the conclusion that the best way to make money was to take the thing Wall Street considered least likely to happen and to bet on its happening.

The Big Short shows how, even when most people believed certain outcomes to be impossible, mavericks like Eisman, Burry and Ledley had the presence of mind to look in a different direction and see what was really going to happen, either through analysis or just by noticing things others didn't. These are stories we can keep in mind to prevent something like the crash of 2008 from happening again.

Lewis was born in New Orleans to a lawyer and a community activist. He went to Princeton University where he studied Art History, and later, he attended the London School of Economics where he got a Master's in Economics. He worked for Salomon brothers before retiring to become a financial journalist. He has written for The New York Times Magazine, The Spectator, Conde Nast Portfolio and Vanity Fair where he is currently a contributing editor. He is the writer of over a dozen books including Moneyball which was made into a hit movie starring Brad Pitt. He has been married three times and currently lives in Berkeley, CA with his third wife, Tabitha Soren and three children.

Featuring an Exclusive Audio Interview with Michael Lewis

When the crash of the U.S. stock market became public knowledge in the fall of 2008, it was already old news. The real crash, the silent crash, had taken place over the previous year, in bizarre feeder markets where the sun doesn’t shine, and the SEC doesn’t dare, or bother, to tread: the bond and real estate derivative markets where geeks invent impenetrable securities to profit from the misery of lower and middle-class Americans who can’t pay their debts. The smart people who understood what was or might be happening were paralyzed by hope and fear; in any case, they weren’t talking.

The crucial question is this: Who understood the risk inherent in the assumption of ever-rising real estate prices, a risk compounded daily by the creation of those arcane, artificial securities loosely based on piles of doubtful mortgages?

Michael Lewis turns the inquiry on its head to create a fresh, character-driven narrative brimming with indignation and dark humor, a fitting sequel to his #1 bestselling Liar’s Poker. Who got it right? he asks. Who saw the ever-rising real estate market for the black hole it would become, and eventually made billions of dollars from that perception? And what qualities of character made those few persist when their peers and colleagues dismissed them as Chicken Littles? Out of this handful of unlikely—really unlikely—heroes, Lewis fashions a story as compelling and unusual as any of his earlier bestsellers, proving yet again that he is the finest and funniest chronicler of our times.

Michael Lewis, “is the finest storyteller of our generation.”—Malcolm Gladwell Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “No one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Mr. Lewis....[he] does a nimble job of using his subjects’ stories to explicate the greed, idiocies and hypocrisies of a system notably lacking in grown-up supervision.” 

    New York Times

  • “Superb: Michael Lewis doing what he does best, illuminating the idiocy, madness and greed of modern finance…Lewis achieves what I previously imagined impossible: He makes subprime sexy all over again.” 


  • “[Lewis] returns to his financial roots to excavate the crisis of 2007–2008, employing his trademark technique of casting a microcosmic lens on the personal histories of several Wall Street outsiders who were betting against the grain—to shed light on the macrocosmic tale of greed and fear…Narration duties are assumed by Jesse Boggs… [Boggs] is well suited to the task and trips lightly through a maze of financial jargon.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Lewis is a capable guide into the world of CDOs, subprime mortgages, head-in-the-sand investments, inflated egos--and the big short.” 


  • A 2010 Publishers Weekly Top 10 Book for Nonfiction
  • A USA Today bestseller
  • A #1 New York Times bestseller
  • A 2010 San Francisco Chronicle Best Book for Nonfiction
  • Winner of the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Current Interest
  • Winner of the 2011 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 sean2e | 9/5/2016

    " If you've seen the movie but want a more indepth look at the 2008 GFC then this is well worth it. I'm about to go buy more of Lewis' books. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jack | 2/18/2014

    " Interesting account of the Sub-prime mortgage crisis. Except for my own money I have little interest in all things financial but this author actually made it interesting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tucker | 2/11/2014

    " Readable, informative and thoroughly enjoyable stories illustrating the causes of the 2008 financial crisis. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Alexander | 2/8/2014

    " Michael Lewis does an amazing job of explaining the crash of 2008 clearly and in an extremely interesting manner. Rather than simply demonizing the investment bankers for their mistakes, he shows the environmental variables that resulted in their actions. While the media or an average person on the street might blame the bankers poor moral judgement, or lack of empathy, Lewis takes a more sociological position and demonstrates the way in which compensation and recognition were structured within the mortgage IBankong industry in a way that encouraged behavior that was not in the long term interest of the market or the firm. Highly recommended for anyone who enjoys a great financial story or wants to understand the catalysts of the 2008 crash and following recession. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Eric | 2/6/2014

    " And I thought I had a low opinion of people in finance before... "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jake | 2/5/2014

    " A pretty good little story of the before and middle of the financial crises told through the eyes of a bunch of Wall Street outsiders who profited by "shorting" it (i.e., betting against it). Odd-ball characters. Under-dogs. Nobodies who get rich quick betting on something everyone else bet against. Despite the collapse, Lewis says we're all still screwed. Ultimately you'll wonder if the "The Big Short" refers not to the betting on the housing collapse and subsequent financial panic, but on how the common person is short-changed, no matter how badly financiers muck things up. Nothing profound, but still, it's interesting. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Victor | 2/1/2014

    " Just another BORING book talking about the 2007 sub-prime crisis. why not writing more forward-looking books on solutions on how to get out of the crisis? "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vaishak | 1/26/2014

    " Michael Lewis's 'The Big Short' is a fascinating summarization of all that went wrong in the real estate derivative markets, essentially leading to the financial meltdown fueled by the so-called credit default swap market. It is also incredulous in its honest caricature of bond sellers being blatantly ignorant of what they were betting on, and what the stakes are. The culprits include a variety of banking institutions, which makes the case, and the story, that much more incredible. A few people predicated the mess, and some of them even bet against it, but as Michael makes clear, this is one of the those situations where saying 'I told you so' is not helpful, because the ones who suffered are ordinary people whose role in the game was entirely unintentional. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 John | 1/23/2014

    " This was a very informative book that describes the origins (and perpetrators) of the subprime mortgage market which produced the great recession and the stock market crash in 2008. FYI, it all began in the late 90s. Michael Lewis actually makes it interesting. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gary | 1/20/2014

    " Interesting expose of sleazy people "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Princesa_ksc | 1/16/2014

    " A fascinating account that personifies the financial crisis. For me, the numbers now have faces. LOVED! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Paul | 1/15/2014

    " Probably my favorite Lewis book. The man can write, and he writes the shit out of this one. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joy | 12/20/2013

    " This book is a little repetitive, but it is very good at telling the story of how the banks failed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dustin | 12/11/2013

    " You never regret reading a Michael Lewis book. Boomerang and Liar's Poker are just as good if not better, but I'll consolidate all of that under a single 5 star rating. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Shivam | 10/31/2013

    " Gives you a great idea into what happened with Lehman Brothers and more. I recommend it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Phil | 10/5/2013

    " Dodd-Frank won't be enough to stop these maniacs. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Caro | 8/13/2013

    " this is a book about the collapse of the us financial market. and it is a thriller. and extremely well written and a total page turner. and as a bonus it will also teach you what a credit default swap is. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Anita | 6/16/2013

    " Smart, fast, funny. On story #2 you think you've figured out how they did it. But by story #5, you realize that you really don't understand a thing. The epilogue will make you mad. Maybe some people and companies will take the fall after this election. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jordan | 4/15/2013

    " A bit technical and sometimes a little repetitive, but all in all a very informative and compelling book. Anyone interested in what happened on wall st to cause the '08 recession should definitely read this! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Matt | 9/30/2012

    " A very revealing view of what happened. Reading this and "All The Devils are Here" made me feel much more informed, and much more depressed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tim | 8/17/2012

    " A good book trying to explain why the banks failed in '08. Any short comings are on my part not the authors. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ahmed | 6/19/2012

    " An excellent book. A must read for an inside look into the puzzling world of high class gambling/stock markets "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dennis | 5/14/2012

    " A great basic explination of the sub-prime morgage mess, and how some savvy but disregarded investors were able to figure out what was going to happen and make a killing investing against the big banks and brokerages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dana | 3/9/2012

    " It gets points in a lot of ways. A good explanation of the opaque financial insturments the led to the 2008 financial crisis. Bad guy vs. Worse guy competition amongst money managers. Agressive, and hilarious Wall St dialogue. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tanya | 1/17/2012

    " Finally, a clear account that explained for me what toxic assets are, how they were sliced and diced, and who saw them for what they were early on. Great read if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of the origins of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Allison | 10/6/2011

    " Great overall picture I what went so horribly wrong. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 5/21/2011

    " Excellent look at the financial crash of 2008. Lewis is a strong storyteller and probably the clearest writer on finance we have today. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wayne | 5/19/2011

    " I know that the rhetoric is to make me mad. And it worked. Really well. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Benjamin | 5/17/2011

    " Michael Lewis tells a good story but it's also quite informative. He offers a good description of the collapse of the global financial system from the eyes of a few savvy investors that identified the problems and found a way to bet against it. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew | 5/16/2011

    " Compelling writing/reporting on an arcane topic. Great decision to marry the tale with the telling so you get to see the events unfold alongside the characters....and what characters they are. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 5/16/2011

    " so far this book is really good. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Drew | 5/15/2011

    " Excellent look into the financial crisis by focusing on less well-known players. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 doug | 5/14/2011

    " Lewis's Big Short is interesting account of a few people who saw the housing crisis coming and made ridiculous profits betting big on the impending economic collapse. It provides a unique perspective and is a fun read for anyone interested in learning more about the housing crisis. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 5/14/2011

    " It's is mind blowing how reckless people were with billions of dollars of other people's money. "

About the Author

Michael Lewis is the New York Times bestselling author of several books. His global bestselling books lift the lid on the biggest stories of our time. They include Flash Boys, an exposé of high-speed scamming; The Big Short, which was made into a Oscar-winning film; Liar’s Poker, the book that defined the excesses of the 1980s; The Fifth Risk, revealing what happens when democracy unravels, and The Premonition, one of the first books to take account of the coronavirus pandemic. He was educated at Princeton University and the London School of Economics.