Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street



The Pequod Review:

Michael Lewis’s first book, Liar's Poker, avoids some of the problems of his later non-fiction work by being strictly a memoir. And not just any memoir, but one written from the perch of the Solomon Brothers derivatives desk from 1984 to 1988, perhaps the best possible spot to have witnessed the emerging financialization of the American economy. Lewis’s story is just great fun — an exuberant and informative portrayal of the 1980s New York City financial world. And throughout he occasionally sprinkles in moments of insight unexpected from a 28-year-old who spent only four years on Wall Street:

If there was a single lesson I took away from Salomon Brothers, it is that rarely do all parties win. The nature of the game is zero sum. A dollar out of my customer’s pocket was a dollar in ours, and vice versa.


“It’s taboo,” he said. “When they ask you why you want to be an investment banker, you’re supposed to talk about the challenges, and the thrill of doing deals, and the excitement of working with such high-calibre people, but never, ever mention money.” 

It is not hyperbole to describe Liar’s Poker as one of the most influential memoirs in modern American history; nearly every college graduate over the last 30 years who aspired to work on Wall Street would read the book (and generally draw the wrong conclusions). Meanwhile, Lewis's engaging prose style strongly influenced the narrative non-fiction genre more broadly.