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Swimming with Sharks

Joris Luyendijk

A gripping work of reportage about the financial time bomb at the heart of our society.

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‘It’s not the people who are bad, it’s the culture.’

‘Friends turned on me, on my wife.’

‘This job involves in some part selling your soul for a good salary.’

‘You’re sitting there, and you may have just made the decision that destroyed the world.’

Winner of the NS Public Prize for Book of the Year 2015

Joris Luyendijk, an investigative journalist, knew almost nothing about banking until he was assigned to investigate the financial sector. Over two years he spoke to more than 200 people – from the competitive investment bankers and elite hedge fund managers to downtrodden back office staff and those made redundant in regular ‘culls’. They opened up about what they actually do, about the toxic hiring and firing culture and about the overwhelming technological and mathematical opacity of their work. They admitted that in the crash of 2008, they hoarded food, put their money in gold and prepared to evacuate their children to the countryside. And they agreed that nothing had changed since then.

Critic Reviews

This is the most entertaining book on banking since Liar's Poker.

Simon Kuper
Critic Reviews

Luyendijk dives deep into the most important social pocket in the world: among the elite financiers who nearly killed the global economy a few years ago - and who are right now carrrying on as before in a system that's as shaky as ever. All this is described not with spleen, but with an attentive empathy - and the book is all the more terrifying for it.

Aditya Chakrabortty
Critic Reviews

An exploration of the inner workings of banking that's both enormously entertaining and utterly terrifying. Proceeding in his fair-minded, unsensationalist way, Joris Luyendijk ends up showing how the financial system has evolved to offer all the wrong psychological rewards for all the worst behaviour - and how we may be teetering on the brink of a greater crisis than those we've already seen. It's not (mainly) that bankers are bad people. It's far scarier than that.

Oliver Burkeman
Critic Reviews

Based on interviews with bankers, Joris Luyendijk's Swimming with Sharks argues that the problem in banking is systematic rather than with individuals. While suggesting another crash is inevitable, Luyendijk also achieves the near-impossible: making you pity these "masters of the universe".

Evening Standard

Joris Luyendijk was born in Amsterdam. He is a writer, journalist and author of Hello Everybody!: One Journalist’s Search for Truth in the Middle East.In 2011 Luyendijk was as ignorant of a ‘CDO’ or any other maddening financial acronym as you or I. The Guardian asked him to look at the world of finance from a beginner’s perspective and chart…

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