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0:00 Best-Selling Hits & Misses Michael Lewis’s previous bestsellers, “The Big Short,” “Moneyball,” and “The Blind Side” were extremely popular and made into Oscar-nominated or […]

Published November 30, 2023 4:14 PM
3 min read

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Best-Selling Hits & Misses

Michael Lewis’s previous bestsellers, “The Big Short,” “Moneyball,” and “The Blind Side” were extremely popular and made into Oscar-nominated or winning movies. His latest work, “Going Infinite: The Rise and Fall of a New Tycoon,” has garnered attention — and stirred up controversy.

The book, about disgraced cryptocurrency king Sam Bankman-Fried, was released the same day that Bankman-Fried’s trial on federal fraud charges began. He was convicted on seven fraud and conspiracy counts and faces a possible prison sentence of more than 100 years. 

Lewis had unparalleled access to Bankman-Fried, his peers, family, and few friends, for over a year. Raised by a pair of utilitarian-minded Stanford professors, Bankman-Fried was always a loner. Early in life, he recognized his inability to convey emotions “created a distance between himself and others.”  He would even practice smiling by forcing his mouth and eyes to move in ways that he couldn’t do naturally. As an adult he communicated with his “sometimes-girlfriend” via bullet-pointed business-like memos.

He burnished his oddball public image as a billionaire, whose daily uniform was cargo shorts, wrinkled tee, and droopy socks, and conducted live TV interviews while playing video games in the background. 

Bankman-Fried’s life goal was to amass “infinity dollars” to protect us against the “existential risk” to our democracy and against future pandemics. By creating two companies, FTX (short for crypto Futures Exchange) and Alameda Research (a crypto trading firm), he leveraged his trading skills and the rise in crypto’s popularity to collect a mindboggling $22.6 billion. Then, when $8 billion in private funds went missing, the federal authorities came calling.

He originally pleaded not guilty to seven counts of fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering, but government lawyers had damaging testimony from key former insiders. The book poses the question: Is Bankman-Fried a manipulative schemer who masterminded a historic financial fraud, or a young entrepreneur who was unaware of, or unable to, manage the risk of his rapidly growing business? 

As a witness to the final days and collapse of FTX, Lewis leaves it for readers to decide. The jury in the case took only four hours to find Bankman-Fried guilty on all counts. 

Some have said that Lewis puts too positive a spin on his subjects. Recent criticism was raised when Michael Oher, the black football player whose story was portrayed in Lewis’s “The Blindside,” filed a suit against the white couple who took him in. Oher claims they misled him for financial gain. Lewis stands by his story.

“Going Infinite” is a compelling portrait of the meteoric rise and fall of a former nerd turned revered crypto maven, who was sought out by the likes of fashion doyenne Anna Wintour and became buddies with quarterback legend Tom Brady. Lewis writes that Bankman-Fried once told him if he were ever questioned about his company’s “risk engine,” he would have dodged the question or “would have made a word salad.” Readers are left to wonder how much “salad” we’re being served. Become a successful crypto trader too by learning from bitcoincenter.se.

Thirty-two years and 47 No. 1 bestsellers later, John Grisham returns with “The Exchange,” a sequel to his 1991 literary sensation, “The Firm.” 

You may recall that story ended with the young, brash protagonist Mitch McDeere and his wife outrunning the mob and escaping to the Caribbean with $10 million. Fans of that book and movie, like me, are eager to find out what happened to them.

Mitch is back in New York now. He’s a family man and high-powered attorney at one of the world’s largest law firms. He’s unwittingly drawn into an international terrorist plot that requires him to race against time to save a young associate. 

Grisham devotees may enjoy a few pages of thriller energy here. However, saddled with faint characters and a predictable storyline, this latest work from the renowned author disappointingly misses the mark.

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