Michael Lewis’s New Book – Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World – Free Copy Online

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I’ve enjoyed every Michael Lewis book that I’ve read, from Liar’s Poker to Moneyball to The Blind Side. Reading his writing is as easy as listening to a great storyteller, making the most mundane subjects interesting. I’ve been hearing about his new book Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World, and was surprised learn from Felix Salmon of Reuters that the book is simply a collection of previously written articles from Vanity Fair magazine. Articles that are still available, for free, online!

I looked inside a copy of the book, and it’s true. Amazon reviews confirm it. The articles are the same, word for word. You can even read the only “new” thing, the Preface, online for free at Amazon since it’s the “free first chapter”. I don’t feel bad sharing this, since Vanity Fair paid Lewis good money to write these articles, put them up publicly with ads, and no doubt enjoy the traffic. So if you want to read Boomerang electronically, the Table of Contents of the book is below. I used Instapaper on my iPod Touch and read parts of them while waiting at the doctor’s office.

Preface: The Biggest Short – Amazon book page (“Read first chapter FREE”)

I. Wall Street on the Tundra – Iceland (Partial only, but Archive.org has the entire article. Thanks to reader Travis.)

II. And They Invented Math – Greece

III. Ireland’s Original Sin – Ireland

IV. The Secret Lives of Germans – Germany

V. Too Fat To Fly – California

Warning: Reading this book will make you some combination of scared, angry, and depressed. I’ve only read the Preface, Greece, and California chapters, and I’m already seriously thinking of buying some gold and guns to join my food hoard. I remind myself that Lewis is a gifted storyteller, but some people still disagree with they see as oversimplification and broad stereotyping of cultures. But just going by the hard numbers given, I’m still worried.

* Update: The Iceland article has been changed to only a partial stub at VanityFair.com, pushing you to buy the book “The Hangover” to read the rest. Interesting, the same article recycled in two separate books. The rest of the articles are still up, but I’d print to PDF or similar in case they change them as well. The Iceland article was free to read for years before this book came out, so it’s still out there if you look hard enough. Update 2: A couple of astute readers found saved versions. I recommend visiting this Archive.org link and saving it quickly.

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  1. I just read the Greece chapter. Great story. Rings true from what I saw when I visited Greece many times, but much deeper of course. So interesting to see the situation playing out one year later from the pub date of that story.

  2. Jon I would seriously recommend you consider investing at least 5% of your portfolio in physical gold that you keep somewhere you can access at any time (hint: not in a safe deposit box). This would be nice insurance in case things go to sh*t, along with food and water. And the nice thing about gold is that if it does end up going down, it will mean that the economy is down well again and uncertainty is lower, so the rest of your portfolio will be doing well anyways. And considering the fact that interest rates are so low anyways, your opportunity cost of holding gold is almost nothing.

  3. Aurelien, if things go to sh*t, no one will buy your gold coin. Maybe your silver coin could be traded for some food but your gold coin will be a tough sell.

    Alternative to gold coin hoarding: become a Mormon and stock up. 😉

  4. Just finished this book last night.

    While you might say that his generalizations about German, Irish, and Greek cultures are largely conjecture, it’s hard to dispute what those nations actually did with the big pile of money that the easy credit of 2000-2006 made possible.

    His observations about the disunity of the Eurozone were particularly interesting. Basically, the euro was predicated on the notion that everyone would behave like the Germans. As we’ve seen, though, people all across those nations went crazy and borrowed and spent money on insanity – chiefly real estate bubbles and lavish public service compensation.

    It’s a great read. It should become even more popular once the dominoes start falling Europe. The only mystery now is how far they will fall.

  5. Jonathan, I feel like a dunce… How do you read the preface for free? I did a Control-F and searched for the phrase you quoted “Read first chapter FREE” and came up blank. I see that I can read most of the preface using the “Search Inside This Book” feature, but for some reason it starts mid-sentence between pages IX and X.

    I’ve already instapapered the rest and look forward to reading it. Thanks for the tip!

  6. I’ve heard great things about this book, can’t wait to check it out!

  7. Dan, great tip on that instapaper site. Thanks!

  8. Dan–over on the right I see a button called “Read first chapter Free” right below the button to buy the ebook.

    No idea if this link will work for you:

    This is the picture

  9. So for those who advocate some physical gold along with food and water. Seriously, if things go that bad do you think you will be able to do anything with that gold and how are you going to protect it in that type of environment. Why don’t you just build your cabin and the woods now?

  10. Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager says

    Thanks for sharing these free resources. Need to check it out.

  11. Gabe, thanks! I’m not a dunce after all, just blind!

  12. @Dan – I’m sorry, it might be simply because I have a Kindle, or maybe just the Kindle app installed on my computer. This is what I see:


  13. The Iceland article is behind a paywall, so there’s at least one reason to buy the book.

  14. The fact that Greece just straight-up lied to get on the Euro, and then lied about all their finances for years, simply leaving off huge amounts of debt off their public balance sheets, knowing that one day the poo would hit the fan, just boggles the mind. I can understand a culture that tries all the time to avoid paying taxes, but the magnitude of deception of so-called “leaders” is crazy.

    I can’t imagine what would happen if the US were caught in a similar scandal.

    I don’t own hardly any gold and don’t own any guns, although I did learn to shoot one recently and am eligible for a handgun license now. The need for gold and guns may not last forever like a Mad Max movie, but it might last for a short period of great uncertainty.

  15. Wow, thanks for the tip. I was planning on purchasing this book, but looks like I don’t have to.

  16. The Iceland Section is only a stub on vanityfair.com.

  17. @mactenchi @Gee – Thanks for the heads up. That’s too bad. The rest of the available articles are still quite good, and they do stand on their own given that’s how they were written in the first place.

  18. The Iceland article is still floating around, from when it was still free. I found it here


  19. People are thinking the wrong way about gold. It’s a place to store value as fiat currency is debased. Unfortunately for Americans living in the U.S., if things get really bad you will have your gold confiscated by the government. With the reporting requirement that was stuck into the Obamacare bill any significant gold purchases are tracked so you can’t hide it.

    Elsewhere in the world gold is used as money all the time so if things get even worse then you CAN use it to buy things. Sorry folks, if you live in America you have few options but to hope that it doesn’t get that bad. However, the trend is very clear.

  20. @Gina @Travis – Nice finds! I like this link better because it loads faster (mostly text) and includes the entire text of the article.


  21. Vince Thorne says

    Just ordered it. Was kind of in two minds but this blog and a late night show appearance by the author convinced me. This would be a different subject for him from his previous work.

  22. I find the book alarming but informative.. Our monetary system used to be based on objects and things.. like land. not mysteriously moved electronic bits.
    Thinking that art is a better investest than gold… but your can’t eat either.
    How did it become legal to play with money this way?

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