How did we get into this economic mess? In The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine (W.W. Norton & Co., 2010, $28), Michael Lewis, a financial insider with both personal experience on Wall Street and as an accomplished investigative reporter, chronicles the run-up to The Great Recession. Lewis manages to make the financial world—subprime mortgage bonds and derivatives and those who created them and those who saw them as the risky investment vehicles they proved to be—understandable, fascinating and darkly risible. I guarantee you will come away both much better informed and angrier than you already are.
Selected by Jeanne Goodrich, executive director for the Las Vegas-Clark County Library District.