Katina's Reviews > Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World

Boomerang by Michael   Lewis
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May 09, 2012

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bookshelves: 2012

Boomerang was written, as I understand it, as an offshoot of another Lewis book on the financial crisis, "The Big Short." He followed the sub-prime mortgage morass to other markets and reports on the crises in Iceland, Greece, and Ireland (the "new third world" as he terms it) among other places. This book is the result of that travel and research.

Parts of this book were really fascinating, and Lewis is a strong writer. I got so tired of the gross generalizations about certain cultures that permeated this book though. I mean, yes, it's true, a lot of Greeks are crazy anarchists. And the Greek economy is totally screwed up. But I don't think you can say that the reason the Greek economy is a disaster is because all Greeks embody the characteristics of x, y, or z. Same for the Irish etc.

In the chapter on Germany, Lewis almost admitted to the problems inherent in this type of cultural generalization, but not quite. I do note that, in retrospect, I was not nearly so uncomfortable with the generalizations ascribed to Americans in the chapter on California. Probably because I happen to live in CA and so does Lewis, to my knowledge. I think he, and I, are probably better positioned to stereotype our fellow Californians than we are to generalize what it means to be from Iceland, or what it means to be Greek.

The chapter on California turned out to be the stand-out in this book. Lewis interviews Schwarzenegger, which is pretty intriguing, and profiles the dire financial situation in San Jose and the municipal finance disaster that is Vallejo. If for not other reason than that you are a Californian, you might want to pick up the book to read the last chapter.

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