A very comprehensive but understandable narrative about Wall Street's catastrophic investment in "subprime mortgages" (i.e., home loans to people who couldn't pay them back) leading to the economic meltdown of 2008. It's a bit dry at times, but Lewis explains everything clearly and soon you'll be following along as he discusses Mezzanine CDOs and all the other arcane financial terms brokers and traders use to deceive (yes, deliberately deceive) investors.
Greed and deceit on Wall Street? Shocking! No, but really, the problem as Lewis explains it is not that Wall Street is greedy and dishonest but that most of the people on Wall Street don't actually know what they're doing
. You'd think guys put in charge of handling billions of dollars would take the time to research their investments. Even if they don't care about screwing the public, they don't really want to bring down the entire economy. Yet that's exactly what they did, because they were lazy and ignorant. Even the CEOs.
If your understanding of the implosion of the housing market and the economy is kind of vague and you want to know the details, this is a very good book to start educating yourself with. Of course Lewis tells the story from his own viewpoint, and some of his opinions are not shared universally, so this isn't necessarily the definitive book on the subject.
He populates the book with an interesting cast of characters, not necessarily the biggest names in the catastrophe, but the little guys who made a killing seeing what the big investment banks didn't: that Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers were holding billions of dollars of bad paper. It almost makes you believe that you could make a killing on Wall Street if you were willing to put in the time and the study -- and if you were willing to hold on for a white-knuckle ride while everyone else is telling you you're about to lose your pants.