Summary of Liar’s Poker

Rising Through the Wreckage on Wall Street

W.W. Norton,
First Edition: 1989 more...

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Liar’s Poker book summary
Racy account of the rise and fall of Wall Street’s premier investment bank and how its bond salesmen ruled the roost.


8 Overall

6 Applicability

8 Innovation

10 Style


In this period of New Economy prosperity, it’s easy to forget that the United States experienced a similar era of unprecedented wealth creation just over a decade ago. But back in the 1980s, no one had ever heard of Silicon Valley. Wall Street was the center of the universe and, for a time, one investment bank was its undisputed king. Liar’s Poker chronicles the rise and fall of Salomon Brothers: its infamous swagger, its aggressive expansion and subsequent decline. The book is written from an insider’s viewpoint by Michael Lewis, now one of the world’s best-known financial journalists, but a bond salesman for Salomon Brothers during its most colorful period. It is a tale of a business and a culture that few of us will ever venture into or understand. And although Liar’s Poker is a historical snapshot of Wall Street, the hubris of its characters and the swift reversals of their fortunes ring especially true today, in this age of the internet millionaire. getAbstract recommends this book to businessmen, executives, students and lay readers alike.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How Salomon Brothers was Wall Street’s undisputed king;
  • How Salomon’s bond salesmen sat atop a brutal caste system;
  • How Wall Street’s first mortgage-trading desk earned Salomon $800 million from 1983 to 1985; and
  • How Salomon was brought down by hubris and mismanagement.


The Gunslingers
“One hand, one million dollars, no tears.” So said John Gutfreund, chairman of Salomon Brothers, to bond trader heavyweight John Merriwether. The challenge to Merriwether was clear: One hand meant one game of Liar’s Poker, one million dollars meant one million dollars and...
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About the Author

Michael Lewis, a former bond salesman, is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine. He has written one other book about Wall Street, The Money Culture, and the bestseller, The New New Thing.

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