On this day in 1960, Michael Lewis, author of such nonfiction best-sellers as “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side,” is born in New Orleans.
Lewis studied art history at Princeton University, graduating in 1982, and earned a degree from the London School of Economics. He went on to work as a junior bond salesman for Salomon Brothers, a New York City investment bank. After several years, Lewis left to chronicle this experience in his first book, “Liar’s Poker.” Published in 1989, “Liar’s Poker,” which painted an unflattering portrait of 1980s Wall Street culture, was a best-seller.
Lewis became a full-time journalist, going on to pen more than a dozen nonfiction books and numerous magazine articles, with business and sports serving as his frequent subject matter. He earned a reputation for taking complex topics, particularly those involving the financial industry, and making them easier-to-understand, character-driven narratives. His books include “Next: The Future Just Happened” (2001), about the Internet boom, “The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine” (2010), about the 2007-2008 American economic crash and “Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World” (2011), about the global financial crisis in the first decade of the 21st century.
Among Lewis’ most well-known books is “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game” (2003), which tells the story of Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland A’s, who despite having the smallest payroll in Major League Baseball built a winning record, in part through the use of statistical analysis. According to New York magazine: “The book, which sold over a million copies, changed the way baseball was played, made ‘Moneyball’ a shorthand term for data-driven innovation in any field, and turned Beane himself into a savant legend well outside of baseball circles.” Brad Pitt played Beane in a 2011 big-screen adaptation of Lewis’s book.
Another Lewis best-seller, “The Blind Side: Evolution of a Game” (2006), features the real-life tale of a well-off, white family in Memphis, Tennessee, the Tuohys, who took in a homeless African-American teen, Michael Oher, who later became a professional football player. Sandra Bullock starred in a movie adaptation of “The Blind Side” that debuted in 2009. Many of the people spotlighted in Lewis’ books have gone from obscurity to fame as a result of Lewis writing about them. The Tuohys and Michael Oher each have produced books of their own.