"You want the book to be special, and they are not always going to be special, but at least you want that to be the ambition. So the only way that happens is if you are not pressing to write a book." -- Michael Lewis
Michael Lewis (born 1960) is an American contemporary non-fiction author and financial journalist. His bestselling books include Inside the Doomsday Machine, Liar's Poker, The New New Thing,The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,Evolution of a Game, Panic and Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood. He is currently a contributing editor to Vanity Fair.
"Baseball is this intense subculture that actually doesn't speak very much for the larger culture.""Book tours are almost designed to beat out of an author any affection he has for his book.""I don't think there is a national pasttime. Watching TV is a national pasttime. Really. If there is a national pasttime, it is watching TV.""I think that fans are always looking for someone to blame. Wouldn't it be nice if they looked in the mirror?""If you had to point to one thing that made it less likely that the Red Sox would win the World Series, I would say it was those people that go to Fenway Park to watch the games. And then the media around it.""In Japan, mothers insist on achievement and accomplishment as a sign of love and respect. Thus to fail places children in a highly shamed situation.""My judgement is not good when I am on a book tour. I am not thinking about it that much. What happens is I will go back home. I have a 4-year-old and a 1-year-old and a wife who is now taking care of them who is wondering where her husband is.""People who think they know what they are talking about when they talk about baseball include the announcers and all of the sports press - no matter how much evidence you present them to the contrary they will continue to think that what they think is right.""The Oakland clubhouse is a wonderful place. A lot of these guys feel like rejects. They were rejects and they feel - they can tell you how baseball screwed up.""The Red Sox are a curious thing because so much here is media driven. You can't go fire half your scouts here because they are all friends with the local reporters. Your life is going to hell in the papers.""The Red Sox are the local scapegoats. It's hard enough to play baseball without being the local scapegoat too.""The sentimentality of baseball is very deeply rooted in the American baseball fan. It is the one sport that is transmitted from fathers to sons.""The sports world is an echo chamber. All it takes is one quote from a general manager and a thousand sports columns bloom.""There are several insights at the heart of the A's system that I think are wonderful for baseball. One, that it's a team game. That no one player is going to make that much of a difference to your team, so for god's sake don't go blow a quarter of your budget on one guy.""There has been this - and it's reflected in the broadcasts - this moronic use of statistics. Which has suggested to everyone who is intelligent the use of statistics is moronic.""Why pay $20 million to Harrison Ford? I don't even understand that. They think they have to do it... If someone puts a price on himself, that suggests he is irreplaceable, then he better find somewhere else to work."
Lewis was born in New Orleans to corporate lawyer J. Thomas Lewis and community activist Diana Monroe Lewis. He attended the private, nondenominational, co-educational college preparatory Isidore Newman School in New Orleans. Later, he attended Princeton University where he received a BA in art history in 1982 and was a member of the Ivy Club.
After graduating from Princeton, he went on to work with New York art dealer Wildenstein. Despite his degree in art history, he nonetheless wanted to break into Wall Street to make money. After leaving Princeton, he tried to find a finance job, only to be roundly rejected by every firm to which he applied. He then enrolled in the London School of Economics to gain a Master's degree in economics.
While in England after graduating from the LSE, Lewis was invited to a banquet hosted by the Queen Mother at St. James's Palace, where he was purposely seated by his cousin, Baroness Linda Monroe von Stauffenberg, one of the organizers of the banquet, next to the wife of the London Managing Partner of Salomon Brothers, in the hope that his intelligence might impress her enough for her to suggest to her husband that Lewis be given a job with Salomon Bros., which had previously turned him down, and as it turned out, this strategy worked, for Lewis was granted an interview and did land the job.
He received his Masters degree in Economics from the LSE in 1985. Michael Lewis: Greater Talent Network Speakers Bureau After graduation as a result of the interview, Lewis moved to New York City for Salomon's training program. Here, he was appalled at the sheer bravado of most of his fellow trainees, and indoctrinated into the money culture of Salomon and Wall Street in general.
After New York, Lewis was shipped to the London office of Salomon Brothers as a bond salesman. Despite his lack of knowledge, he was soon handling millions of dollars in investment accounts. In 1987, he witnessed a near-hostile takeover of Salomon Brothers but survived with his job. However, growing disillusioned with his work, he eventually quit to write Liar's Poker and become a financial journalist.
After working for a while at Salomon, Lewis described his experiences there in his first book, Liar's Poker (1989). While at Salomon Brothers, he continued to work nights and weekends as a journalist, an effort he continues to this day with pieces for periodicals like The New York Times Magazine.
In The New New Thing (1999) he investigated the then-booming Silicon Valley technological scene, and discussed obsession with innovation. He considered this phenomenon both from the perspective of the computer engineers actually making the new products, and the entrepreneurs who invested in them.
Four years later, Lewis again entered the cultural mainstream with Moneyball, in which he investigated the dramatic success of Billy Beane and the Oakland A's, a baseball team which won consistently despite not being particularly well-funded by Major League Baseball standards. He noted the influence of baseball thinkers such as Bill James on the Oakland front office, which used their arguments to find underrated baseball players. In contrast to other teams which still considered potential players almost entirely on their physical abilities, such as speed and strength, Beane considered prior performance at the college and minor league level. This allowed him to find players whose physical skills might have been ordinary, but were still able to play extraordinarily well on the field. James also argued that certain skills, such as the ability to get on base, were equally valuable as the ability to hit, though most baseball decision makers considered the latter to be of more importance. Beane was thus able to find players who were able to provide high value for bargain prices. Lewis determined that these strategies, among others, allowed the relatively cash-poor A's to often outperform much wealthier teams.
In August 2007 he wrote an article about catastrophe bonds that appeared in The New York Times Magazine, entitled "In Nature's Casino."
Lewis has worked for the New York Times Magazine, as a columnist for Bloomberg, and a visiting fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. He wrote the Dad Again column for Slate. Lewis was one of the high-profile hires to Conde Nast Portfolio but in February 2009 he left Portfolio to join Vanity Fair, where he became a contributing editor.
Lewis married Diane de Cordova Lewis, his girlfriend prior to his Salomon days. After several years, he was briefly married to former CNBC correspondent Kate Bohner, before marrying the former MTV reporter Tabitha Soren on October 4, 1997. Lewis lives with Tabitha, two daughters, and one son (Quinn, Dixie, and Walker) in Berkeley, California.