Books of the Year: Gems among a string of credit-crunch tomes

Three years ago, it was painfully difficult to publish a book about high finance in the mainstream media world.

by Gillian Tett

I know from personal experience: when I decided in early 2007 to write a book about credit derivatives, my US literary agent recoiled in horror at such a seemingly obscure topic.

But 2008's financial crisis turned the literary Zeitgeist on its head. This year, a string of books about high finance have tumbled out, trying to make sense of the credit crisis (of which mine is just one). And although these have tackled a host of topics once considered arcane, this tsunami of credit-crunch works has produced some gems.

One of the best of this pile is Too Big to Fail: Inside the battle to save Wall Street by Andrew Ross Sorkin, a leading reporter with the New York Times. It's an extraordinarily detailed and lively account of the financial crisis that beset the Wall Street banks last year. For a European reader, the work can feel irritatingly US-centric, and at 600 pages, the book has been dubbed 'Too Big to Read' by critics. Nevertheless, this is a stunningly good read that, with a wealth of fly-on-the-wall detail about the events, has left fellow journalists - myself included - impressed and envious.

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