'Your Fucking Book Destroyed My Career'S

Henry Blodget, the Wall Street analyst returned to journalism, wrote that Michael Lewis' (last?) Portfolio article on short-seller Steve Eisman and the collapse of Wall Street generally is "pure pleasure from start to finish." It's true; it's the sort of piece that will keep you up late, assuming you're remotely interested in the ongoing collapse of the modern financial system. But the article's most compelling section deals not so much with finance as with the eternal tension between writer and subject, i.e. fucking over your sources. '

Lewis' feud with former Salomon Brothers CEO John Gutfreund was especially fraught, because he worked for Gutfreund before betraying him. Lewis' Liar's Poker portrayed a crude, cutthroat culture of excess under Gutfreund at Salomon Brothers, where Lewis worked as a bond salesman. That and a bond trading scandal helped push Gutfreund out within two years of the book's publication.

Cue the Lewis-Gutfreund reunion, amid still more Wall Street carnage:

They weren't the hands of a soft Wall Street banker but of a boxer. I looked up. The boxer was smiling-though it was less a smile than a placeholder expression. And he was saying, very deliberately, "Your…fucking…book."



I smiled back, though it wasn't quite a smile.



"Your fucking book destroyed my career, and it made yours," he said.



I didn't think of it that way and said so, sort of.



"Why did you ask me to lunch?" he asked, though pleasantly. He was genuinely curious.



You can't really tell someone that you asked him to lunch to let him know that you don't think of him as evil. Nor can you tell him that you asked him to lunch because you thought that you could trace the biggest financial crisis in the history of the world back to a decision he had made...



...He watched me curiously as I scribbled down his words. "What's this for?" he asked.

I told him I thought it might be worth revisiting the world I'd described in Liar's Poker, now that it was finally dying. Maybe bring out a 20th-anniversary edition.



"That's nauseating," he said.

One hopes there was at least some scotch on hand, maybe a coupe of martinis.

(Lewis photo via Morning News)