The Amazing Life And Career Of Wall Street's Favourite Writer, Michael Lewis

This month, Michael Lewis retook Wall Street by storm with “Flash Boys,” his new book about a group of traders who banded together to understand the damage that high-frequency trading (HFT) was doing to markets.

Whether or not you agree with the premise that HFT is harmful, there’s no question that it’s sparked some serious debate on Wall Street. It’s the kind of thing only a writer with Lewis’ amazing track record — which started with the modern classic “Liar’s Poker” — could do.

The bond salesman turned literary sensation has changed careers three (or maybe it was four) times before settling into his current niche as one of the most prolific journalist-authors of the past two decades.

What’s driving this success? Well, most have attributed it to Lewis’ obsession with the “arena of success,” the competitive spirit that drives the athletic, entrepreneurial, and financial minds.

It’s no doubt that Lewis has built his own arena of success, and it’s only getting bigger.

Lewis was born to a wealthy New Orleans lawyer.

Lewis was born in New Orleans to J. Thomas Lewis and Diana Monroe Lewis, a corporate lawyer and a community activist, respectively.

He attended the prestigious Isadore Newman prep school, where fellow alums include NFL brothers Eli and Peyton Manning.

Source: New York Magazine

After spending his life in the South, he studied art history at Princeton.

Donatello's 'Gattamelata'

Art history. That's right, Lewis graduated from Princeton with a B.A. in art history -- not necessarily a common major for bankers.

His thesis: 'Donatello and the Antique.'


After graduation he worked in fine arts for a year, but the pay was awful.

The Wildenstein & Co. Building on East 64th Street

His first job after Princeton was with art dealer Daniel Wildenstein as a stock boy in Wildenstein and Co.'s New York office.

Source: Telegraph

He changed course and looked for work in finance. The he enrolled in the London School of Economics.

He moved to London, in part following his girlfriend and eventual first wife, Diane de Cordova.

His first attempts at getting a job in finance were fruitless (all described in 'Liar's Poker'), so Lewis went back to school, enrolling in a master's program at LSE.

Bonus fact: He played on the school's Perrier-sponsored basketball team.

Source: New York Magazine

He was worried about finding a job, but everything changed after he dined with the Queen Mother.

While at LSE, Lewis' distant cousin invited him to a dinner hosted by the Queen Mother.

Lewis happened to be sitting next to the wife of a managing director at Solomon Brothers.

The woman was so impressed that she called up her husband and demanded that Salomon Brothers hire the charming LSE grad student.

Source: New York Magazine and Liar's Poker

That's where he met the people who would hire him at Salomon Brothers, where he worked as a bond salesman.

Lewis became a junior bond salesman for the now-defunct firm, splitting his time between the firm's London and New York offices.

Bonus: Michael Bloomberg passed through Salomon Brothers, and Warren Buffett took the helm of the bank after it was rocked by a bond-trading scandal in the early '90s.

Source: New York Magazine

His time at the notorious bank became fuel for his first book, 'Liar's Poker.'

'Liar's Poker: Rising Through the Wreckage of Wall Street' -- a 500-plus-page semiautobiographical account of Lewis' time at Solomon -- is considered the most accurate representation of 1980s Wall Street.

If you haven't read the book, this line from its preface says it all:

'Never before have so many unskilled twenty-four-year-olds made so much money in so little time as we did this decade in New York and London.'

Source: Google Books

When not authoring instant classics, Lewis started working as a financial journalist.

'Liar's Poker' -- and the less famous 'Pacific Rift' and 'Money Culture' -- sparked Lewis' career as a financial journalist, which led the former bond salesman to write for Conde Nast's now-defunct Portfolio magazine, Bloomberg, and The New York Times Magazine.

He is now a contributing editor for Vanity Fair.

Source: Vanity Fair

Then came baseball classic 'Moneyball' in 2003.

In 'Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,' Lewis writes about Oakland A's manager Billy Beane and how he used sabermetric analytics to build a talented team on a small budget.

Slate's Rob Neyer described 'Moneyball' as 'the single most influential baseball book ever.'

Source: Google Books

In 2006, Lewis finished his next sensation, 'The Blind Side.'

In 'The Blind Side,' Lewis told the story of his high-school classmate Sean Tuohy, whose wealthy Memphis family adopted homeless football prodigy Michael Oher.

The book follows Oher's rise from destitution to fame, examining offensive football strategy on the way.

Source: Google Books

The book about a wealthy family that took in a poor high-school football player was turned into a hit film in 2010.

It starred none other than Sandra Bullock as Leigh Anne Tuohy.

Lewis' latest adaptation, 'Moneyball,' was released in 2011.

Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill stole the show.

All together, Michael Lewis' film adaptations have been nominated for eight Academy Awards.

Sandra Bullock nabbed the Best Actress Oscar for her role in 'The Blind Side.'

Source: New York Magazine

Most recently he's made waves with his new book, which is critical of high-frequency trading: 'Flash Boys.'

'Flash Boys' is the story of the founders of IEX, a private exchange that purposely slows down high-frequency traders to make the market more fair overall. The protagonists are a group of former traders/Wall Street guys who figured out how high-frequency trading firms were gaming the market while at the Royal Bank of Canada.

The story has prompted fierce debate on Wall Street.

Less than a week after the book came out, the protagonist, Brad Katusyama, was on CNBC fighting with the CEO of the Bats exchange.

A few weeks later, reports say the SEC is planning a 'purge' of high-frequency trading firms.

That's the power of the pen.

As for his personal life, Lewis is married to photographer and former MTV veejay Tabitha Soren. They have three children.

He chronicled his parenting misadventures in the book 'Home Game' after his first child was born.

Then he wrote the Slate magazine column 'Dad Again' in 2002 after the birth of his second child.

The column became 'Dad Again, Again' in 2007 when baby No. 3 came along.

Soren is Lewis' third wife.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Before that, he was married to Kate Bohner, a Wall Streeter and a journalist.

Bohner is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia University's School of Journalism. She has worked at Lazard, CNBC, and Forbes, among other places.

She has also worked with Donald Trump, co-writing his 1997 book, 'Trump: Art of the Comeback.'

Source: New York Times

Besides writing Oscar-worthy works of nonfiction, Michael Lewis made his name as a political activist.

In the middle of last fall's Occupy Wall Street fervor, Michael Lewis was open about his pro-99% leanings.

He wasn't hanging in Zuccotti Park, but he did write two satirical columns for Bloomberg relaying his support: 'Advice From the 1%' and 'Princeton Brews Trouble For Us 1 Percenters.'

Even after the Occupy Wall Street fervor of fall 2011 ended, he spoke openly about income equality.

He was the keynote speaker at Princeton's commencement in 2012. There, he delivered a speech that urged students to remember that they are lucky -- not naturally superior to others.

From the speech:

All of you have been faced with the extra cookie. All of you will be faced with many more of them. In time you will find it easy to assume that you deserve the extra cookie. For all I know, you may. But you'll be happier, and the world will be better off, if you at least pretend that you don't.

Never forget: In the nation's service. In the service of all nations.

Right now, Lewis has a 'Liar's Poker' film in the works, and a deal for 'Flash Boys' could come soon.

And who would play the young Mr. Lewis in 'Liar's Poker' the movie?

Zack Efron, Lewis told CNBC.

A movie deal for 'Flash Boys' is still in talks, according to Variety.

And 'Boomerang.'

For a look at Lewis' thoughts on the sovereign debt crisis in Ireland, Germany, Greece, and the U.S., check out 'Boomerang.'

As The New York Times wrote: 'Michael Lewis possesses the rare storyteller's ability to make virtually any subject both lucid and compelling.'

And if you're curious about what's happened to Lewis' protagonists:

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