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

Front Cover
W. W. Norton & Company, 1989 - Biography & Autobiography - 249 pages
228 Reviews
In this shrewd and wickedly funny book, Michael Lewis describes an astonishing era and his own rake's progress through a powerful investment bank. From an unlikely beginning (art history at Princeton?) he rose in two short years from Salomon Brothers trainee to Geek (the lowest form of life on the trading floor) to Big Swinging Dick, the most dangerous beast in the jungle, a bond salesman who could turn over millions of dollars' worth of doubtful bonds with just one call.

With the eye and ear of a born storyteller, Michael Lewis shows us how things really worked on Wall Street. In the Salomon training program a roomful of aspirants is stunned speechless by the vitriolic profanity of the Human Piranha; out on the trading floor, bond traders throw telephones at the heads of underlings and Salomon chairman Gutfreund challenges his chief trader to a hand of liar's poker for one million dollars; around the world in London, Tokyo, and New York, bright young men like Michael Lewis, connected by telephones and computer terminals, swap gross jokes and find retail buyers for the staggering debt of individual companies or whole countries.

The bond traders, wearing greed and ambition and badges of honor, might well have swaggered straight from the pages of Bonfire of the Vanities. But for all their outrageous behavior, they were in fact presiding over enormous changes in the world economy. Lewis's job, simply described, was to transfer money, in the form of bonds, from those outside America who saved to those inside America who consumed. In doing so, he generated tens of millions of dollars for Salomon Brothers, and earned for himself a ringside seat on the greatest financial spectacle of the decade: the leveraging of America.

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
4 stars
3 stars
2 stars
1 star

Fun for the insight it gives into Wall Street. - Goodreads
Great intro to the 1980s bond market - Goodreads
I really enjoy Michael Lewis's writing. - Goodreads
I think that Michael Lewis is a superb writer. - Goodreads
It was a very good book, and I like the humble ending. - Goodreads
It's a page turner :) - Goodreads

Review: Liar's Poker

User Review  - Marisa Carlos - Goodreads

The Big Short is much better. Read full review

Review: Liar's Poker

User Review  - Jack Hwang - Goodreads

A great read for a financial layman like myself. I start to get a glimmer of the past 3 decades that lead to today's totally confusing financial world. Read full review


Liars Poker
Never Mention Money
Learning to Love Your Corporate Culture
Adult Education
A Brotherhood of Hoods
The Fat Men and Their Marvelous Money Machine
The Salomon Diet
From Geek to Man
The Art of War
How Can We Make You Happier?
When Bad Things Happen to Rich People

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1989)

Michael Lewis, the best-selling author of Liar’s Poker, The Money Culture, The New New Thing, Moneyball, The Blind Side, Panic, Home Game, The Big Short, and Boomerang, among other works, lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.

Bibliographic information