Author: Michael Lewis
High finance was a suddenly glamorous world in the '80s, portrayed most prominently in popular culture through Oliver Stone's film Wall Street and Tom Wolfe's novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, both released in 1987. Lewis was one of many seeking Wall Street jobs in record numbers. Salomon Brothers was seen as the best of the best and Lewis fell into his own gig with them essentially through dumb luck.
My own impression of that world is shaped by my experiences temping in New York in the late '90s/early aughts. Liar's Poker confirms all of my suspicions that traders are vile, ruthless, reptilian life forms devoid of scruples. (Apologies to any of you who are traders or have loved ones in the biz and to any of you with a fondness for reptiles.) No matter the topic, Lewis is an expert at drawing vivid, memorable characters, even if they're not especially likeable. To his credit, he doesn't even paint himself as a particularly commendable person, though he does occasionally express regret at screwing over a customer.
As might be expected of an earlier work, Liar's Poker is not as good as The Big Short, though in providing some early history of the mortgage bond market, it does make for an interesting prequel. Liar's Poker is funny, just not as funny. I still can't say I understand any better how the markets work but the fly on the wall perspective is entertaining nonetheless.