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.
The Greeks wanted to turn their country into a piÃÂ±ata stuffed with cash and allow as many citizens as possible to take a whack at it. The Germans wanted to be even more German; the Irish wanted to stop being Irish.
The trademark of Michael LewisÃ¢ÂÂs bestsellers is to tell an important and complex story through characters so outsized and outrageously weird that youÃ¢ÂÂd think they have to be invented. (YouÃ¢ÂÂd be wrong.) In Boomerang, we meet a brilliant monk who has figured out how to game Greek capitalism to save his failing monastery; a cod fisherman who, with three daysÃ¢ÂÂ training, becomes a currency trader for an Icelandic bank; and an Irish real estate developer so outraged by the collapse of his business that he drives across the country to attack the Irish Parliament with his earth-moving equipment.
LewisÃ¢ÂÂs investigation of bubbles beyond our shores is so brilliantly, sadly hilarious that it leads the American listener to a comfortable complacency: Oh, those foolish foreigners. But when Lewis turns a merciless eye on California and Washington DC, we see that the narrative is a trap baited with humor, and we understand the reckoning that awaits the greatest and greediest of debtor nations.
Ã¢ÂÂNo one writes with more narrative panache about money and finance than Lewis.Ã¢ÂÂ
Ã¢ÂÂMichiko Kakutani, New York Times
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