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Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  28,577 Ratings  ·  1,744 Reviews
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 pi
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Hardcover, 213 pages
Published October 3rd 2011 by W. W. Norton & Company
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The Big Short by Michael LewisToo Big to Fail by Andrew Ross SorkinLiar's Poker by Michael LewisFault Lines by Raghuram G. RajanBoomerang by Michael Lewis
Understanding the Financial Crisis 2008
5th out of 117 books — 190 voters
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca SklootMe Talk Pretty One Day by David SedarisOne Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezCollapse by Jared Diamond
NPR
27th out of 150 books — 128 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Will Byrnes
Jul 27, 2013 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it
Shelves: economics
UPDATED - July 28, 2013 - at bottom

Checking in with the whiz kids who predicted the Wall Street crash that he wrote about in The Big Short, his excellent look at the latest Wall Street meltdown, Michael Lewis finds that the next big bust will be on the nation-state scale. His construct for analyzing how nations deal with the economic environment of the 21st century is to imagine each of these countries in a dark room in which piles of money were dumped, the easy credit available in the first chu
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Scott
Sep 05, 2013 Scott rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: money, 2010s
Lewis’s Boomerang (2011) is a slick read that coasts on its author’s reputation for writing well about others' fiscal knavery and financial stupidity. I usually don’t pick up a book if the author’s name on the cover is twice the size of the book’s title, especially when that title is anything but fresh and intriguing (How many gazillion books are named Boomerang? Do a Goodreads book search and marvel at the results.); but this one came to me on loan from a neighbor who heard I liked to read (ble ...more
Marsha
Oct 23, 2011 Marsha rated it it was ok
I am a huge Michael Lewis fan - in fact I wish I could have his job. He writes about money and sports, two subjects I find fascinating. However, Lewis crosses the line with this book, which is a compilation of previously published magazine pieces about the financial crisis as it has played out in Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Germany and California. Lewis seems to have reached some sweeping conclusions about the "essential character" of these places, based on spending a couple of weeks there and tal ...more
Nick
Nov 17, 2011 Nick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm loving this. Taken in tandem with Lewis's previous book, The Big Short, it's a hilarious and terrifying explanation of the present financial crisis (ruination, collapse, armageddon?)

I was chatting to a couple of people the other day who really know finance and suchlike, and they objected that Lewis doesn't get everything right. I can't say whether that's a question of fact or a matter of nuance and opinion. What I can say is that a) nothing he writes clashes with my experience or understandi
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Mark Rice
Nov 29, 2011 Mark Rice rated it it was amazing
In 2004, Wall Street's largest investment banks brought about the beginning of a worldwide financial downturn by creating the credit default swap on the subprime mortgage bond. The events that followed have been widely reported. Once-wealthy nations such as Greece, Ireland, Iceland and Germany accrued gargantuan debts, causing governments, banks and other companies to crumble. In 'Boomerang', Michael Lewis explains the details of how and why this happened, visiting the worst-affected countries a ...more
Mark
Jan 25, 2012 Mark rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Any banker
Recommended to Mark by: Mark Rice
Shelves: history
To say i am totally p***ed off is to water down my feelings enormously. having just written out a review of this book which took me an hour my computer has chosen to wipe it and, being a total luddite, i have no idea how to retrieve it. As i went along I was removing the clips from the pages which had struck me as provoking, incisive, witty etc. Now i look at a pile of magnetic page markers and a book wholly free of them. Short of wading my way through again I have no way of tracing them. How in ...more
Brent
Oct 29, 2011 Brent rated it it was ok
Shelves: hmmm, business
As a huge Michael Lewis fan, I was a bit disappointed by this book. The concept was neat, but the lack of an overall narrative and the length of the five stories made them somewhat shallow. Even the best of the bunch (the US) won't tell you anything you don't already know.
Joe
Oct 26, 2011 Joe rated it it was ok
I've read and enjoyed other books from Lewis -- The Big Short, The Blind Side, Moneyball, Liar's Poker -- but this book was a severe disappointment.

I think my main complaints can be summarized with three observations: 1) This book seemed rushed, and not in-depth; 2) Lewis has demonstrated the ability to simplify complex situations, but in this book he instead relies on over-simplistic cliches; 3) as opposed to explaining and illuminating, he seems to have an axe to grind -- a biased viewpoint he
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Cheryl
Oct 08, 2011 Cheryl rated it it was amazing
Who knew it could be so enjoyable reading about the financial crisis, explained with examples from several key areas of the world? Fascinating. Iceland, Greece, Ireland, USA -- these are some of the countries in what he calls the New Third World. We have been undone by our ancient lizard nature of greed, where short term satisfaction overwhelms common sense. Hilarious and sobering all at once.
Scott Rhee
I puzzled over the title of Michael Lewis’s book “Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World”, as the word “boomerang” does not appear once throughout. It confused me until I began to piece together what exactly Lewis was trying to say between the lines.

Lewis’s books are all about what’s between the lines. He is all about the subtle extrapolation of meanings and hidden meanings lurking beneath the subject matter. In his wonderful book, “Moneyball”, which was ostensibly about baseball and the econ
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Trish
Mar 02, 2012 Trish rated it it was amazing
Michael Lewis turns his curiosity on the wider world after the financial debacle of 2007 and the success of his book The Big Short . Here he attempts to answer a few questions: How did the crisis unravel overseas, what was the role of European banks, and how did governments and investors deal with the disaster? Then he returns home to America to look at state failures, California specifically, in the aftermath.

I listened to the Recorded Books edition of this book, and Lewis has a laugh in his v
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Perry
Jun 19, 2016 Perry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Icelandic Elves and the German Obsession with Scheiße

It's hard not to be entertained AND enlightened by a Michael Lewis book. His books exploring Major League Baseball, the NFL, the stock market and financial shorting ( The Big Short ) are to non-fiction, somewhat like Apple was to personal computing. He has the creative ability to explain in clear and simple terms subjects that are complex or seem otherwise mundane. As Jobs said, "the way we’re running the company, the product design, the adver
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Greg Bates
Mar 18, 2012 Greg Bates rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2012
With a subtitle like “Travels in the New Third World,” you might pick up Boomerang expecting to read about Michael Lewis tramping through New Orleans and the Deep South, looking at people whose savings and livelihoods were wiped out by the financial crisis and the squalor they deal with on a daily basis. Instead, you get a gleeful travelogue of all the countries he's visited in the last year and a half, complete with rambling diatribe about how the financial crisis affected them and snide commen ...more
Aaron
May 06, 2012 Aaron rated it it was ok
After The Big Short, this is a weird book. Lewis almost completely abandons the Napoleonic narrative of history suggested by The Big Short in this one, where both success and disaster, no matter how broadly written, is basically the result of the choices of special people who are able to exploit unique opportunities to create economy shaking results. There’s almost none of that here. Whereas the American crisis seems to be the result of a few very smart people either creating or identifying a ge ...more
Tim
Dec 15, 2011 Tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
Michael Lewis has a remarkable gift for giving insight through stories. Each of the five sections of the book was fascinating in a different way: how various countries reacted to having a big pot of seemingly free money on offer, how they responded when things didn't turn out as well as they hoped, and what that says about the national character of each.

What I found most fascinating about the story of Iceland was not in the book, but in the comments of a friend who lives there. Because Iceland
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Mary Ronan Drew
Oct 03, 2011 Mary Ronan Drew rated it it was amazing
Michael Lewis is the author of the blockbuster Liar's Poker from 20 years ago (soon to be a major motion picture, by the way.) Lewis has recently done a bit of "financial disaster tourism" as he calls it and the results are in his latest book, Boomerang.

I bought it for Wilhelm but made the mistake of leaving it lying around and yesterday I did what I said I would not do and started reading it. And couldn't put it down. Fortunately it's short.
In an attempt to figure out what happened to the euro
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Mal Warwick
Oct 11, 2011 Mal Warwick rated it really liked it
What goes around, comes around: following the financial meltdown around the world

If you’re scratching your head over the financial news from Europe these days and wondering what on earth has been happening in Greece, Ireland, and elsewhere that has everyone, especially the Germans, in a state of panic, Michael Lewis will make it all clear to you with his customary straight talk, humor, and insight. Boomerang — a collection of Lewis’ articles for Vanity Fair on what he calls “financial-disaster t
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Mark Stevens
Jun 02, 2013 Mark Stevens rated it it was amazing
"Boomerang" isn't afraid to talk about greed and culture. Michael Lewis swoops down into the world economic crisis with a biting, perplexed tone. If you are in the least bit worried that a book about international finance might teeter on boredom, you're presumptions will be shattered. Lewis helps us see the people and the key decisions in Iceland, Ireland, Greece and Germany that continue to play havoc with the global economy in mid-2013. The chapter on the Greek monks ("And They Invented Math") ...more
David
Feb 05, 2012 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Some adjectives that describe this collection of essays by Michael Lewis: smart, clear, entertaining, breezy, moderately informative . They are fun to read, and though not heavily researched, probably accurate as far as they go. Each of the five essays collected here first appeared, in slightly different form, in Vanity Fair. Those dealing with foreign economies (Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Germany) appear to be based on visits Lewis made to the countries in question between late 2008 and mid 2011 ...more
Karla
Oct 09, 2011 Karla rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Thanks to an Amazon reviewer (whose review is no longer there), I was able to get this book of previously-published articles via Lexis-Nexis and the Vanity Fair website. I hadn't heard of Michael Lewis until I saw his interview for this book on The Daily Show (yeah, I don't get out much). Anyway, free book in hand, I thoroughly enjoyed his observations about the meltdowns all over Europe, even if I never completely understood WTF it was all about. But if the people "in charge" had no clue what t ...more
Christine Zibas
Feb 07, 2016 Christine Zibas rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ever wonder just how the global economy got into such a mess? With a generous dose of humor, author and financial guru Michael Lewis turns his attention to the “new Third World,” that is, Europe. And of course, the United States.

While other financial writers can make eyes glaze over as they detail the markets and throw around acronyms like ECB (European Central Bank) and IMF (International Monetary Fund), Lewis has a rare gift for making economics personal. In “Boomerang: Travels in the New Thir
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Abbey
Oct 13, 2011 Abbey rated it it was amazing
It strikes me as unfair to characterize a whole nation as uptight or reckless or fickle like Lewis does, but maybe it's not so far off the mark. As a whole, Americans take more risks than Japanese. Why is that such a shocking observation? Comparing one Japanese with one American, it may be that the Japanese person is less risk-averse than the individual American; nonetheless, generalities hold true. If this is the case, then the "personalities" of nations could in some way account for the astoni ...more
Jane Stewart
4 stars. Wow. This was excellent. I’m very happy to have this eye-opening knowledge.

The entertainment value is the strange incompetence and stupidity of people. But it is also depressing. Terrible things are happening to ordinary people. I loved hearing it as an audiobook, educating me while I was doing other things. Reading this as a physical book might be less desirable for me. In the book the author describes himself as a “financial disaster tourist.” He travels to and writes about five area
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Sam Quixote
Dec 06, 2012 Sam Quixote rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a big reader of newspapers or watcher of the news, mostly as the news these days is reported as quickly as possible with the barest of facts and, for larger issues like the economic troubles of recent years, almost no understanding of the circumstances for context. That's not to say I'm not interested, but I would only be interested in reading about the financial woes of late through a writer who could write, not as an economist or academic, but a true writer, and could make the subject ...more
Jillwilson
Sep 26, 2012 Jillwilson rated it really liked it
Two interesting and intersecting things from the weekend. Towards the end of Boomerang, Michael Lewis quotes Peter Whybrow, a British neuroscientist, who says that dysfunction in American society is a by-product of America’s success. In Whybrow’s book ‘American Mania’ he explores the concept that the human brain has evolved in an environment defined by scarcity – the brain is not designed for abundance. The reptilian core predominates. "When faced with abundance, the brain's ancient reward pathw ...more
Dave Lefevre
Sep 30, 2011 Dave Lefevre rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: political
Just a note... I got an early copy of this. I pre-ordered and it came to my Kindle early. I have no idea why... it just happened.

This is a good little short book that goes into how the current financial crisis has gone around the world. It's a collection of stories about the credit bubble madness, going from Iceland, where fishermen suddenly decided they could become hedge fund managers, to Greece, a society where the tax collectors are pulled off the streets completely during an election year a
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Kyle
Nov 24, 2012 Kyle rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was too glib for me. Maybe the shallowness is inevitable when an already shortish book is divided among five different stories. But I felt like Lewis left out some really interesting points that *I* know about, and I'm not a professional financial journalist (although I *have* been to Iceland, Ireland, Greece, and California since 2008, just not as a financial disaster tourist).

Like, what about how many Irish businesses are locked into contracts that say their rent can only ever incre
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Zhiqing
Oct 10, 2011 Zhiqing rated it really liked it
Practically read this in one sitting. Very enlightening and entertaining. I hear about Europe debt crisis and bailouts on the radio all the time but have only the vaguest idea of what has caused countries like Iceland, Greece and Ireland to amass such debt. In this book, Lewis did a good job of explaining the complex issues in simple English. Greece story was particularly shocking. The chapter on the "shit" obssessed German culture was funny as hell. How do Germans feel about having to bail out ...more
Joe
Jan 19, 2012 Joe rated it liked it
Boomerang is a surprisingly entertaining book about the recent economic collapse(s). Author Michael Lewis undertakes what he calls something like a "financial disaster vacation" and visits, in turn, Iceland, Greece, Germany, and ultimately, California. In each locale, he writes about the causes and results of their particular version of economic problems while bitingly satirizing their cultures. The book is pretty enlightening and definitely amusing.
Lewis is fascinated by the human capacity for
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Panagiotis Thanopoulos
Michael Lewis is definitely a talented writer with a smart sense of humor. But in this book he meets the wrong people and gets to wrong conclusions.

How can you find the real causes of the crisis by interviewing ministers of economy, bankers and all the financial elite that got us here?

The result is that Lewis gives trivial answers like "Greeks don't like to pay taxes" or "Germans are credulous". What more can you expect if you ask for example the former fin. minister of Greece who is now one ste
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Books Quotes: Boomerang 1 7 Sep 02, 2013 12:32AM  
Isnt there a paperback version? 6 49 Jan 06, 2013 09:02AM  
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Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, The Money Culture, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game, The Big Short, and Boomerang, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.
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“Everywhere you turn you see Americans sacrifice their long-term interests for a short-term reward.” 11 likes
“Germans longed to be near shit, but not in it. This, as it turns out, is an excellent description of their role in the current financial crisis.” 10 likes
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