What makes for a good nonfiction book? Ask author Michael Lewis, this week’s guest on Masters in Business, and he will tell you it is all about characters and narratives. Describing his thinking about his many acclaimed books — “Moneyball,” “The Big Short,” “Liar’s Poker,” “The Undoing Project,” “The Blind Side,” “Flashboys,” and others — he explained that each of these books is focused on a single character whose experience is a personal story line as well as an instructive tale about a broader event.
In his most recent book, “The Fifth Risk,” Lewis discusses how Rick Perry, the former Texas governor and one-time presidential candidate, led him to look into the Department of Energy. Perry had not realized that the DOE was responsible for nuclear bombs, not energy. That led in turn to a shocking discovery about the Trump transition team: Although the team was supposed to be managed by an experienced political player, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, the entire effort was undercut and thwarted by President-elect Donald Trump himself. From that inauspicious start flows the disorder and chaos that to this day is a hallmark of the Trump administration.
Lewis’s latest project, “Against the Rules,” is a podcast that looks at the declining role of referees and fairness in all aspects of society.
You can stream/download the full conversation, including the podcast extras on iTunes, Bloomberg, Overcast and Stitcher. Our earlier podcasts can all be found at iTunes, Stitcher, Overcast and Bloomberg.
Next week, we speak with the Winklevoss twins about crypto, Bitcoin and blockchain.