Just when you thought it wasn't possible to get any more angry about the people who run the stock market along comes Michael Lewis with another tale of abominable behaviour amongst the elite of Wall Street and the City if London. His schtick; for those who haven't read his other excellent offerings; is to take the complexity of modern financial markets and render them comprehensible by following a few good men and women as they try to do the right thing in a wicked world while making a relatively fair profit. In Flash Boys he pokes around in High Frequency Trading and highlights a racket in which IT experts and huge merchant banks fleece anyone who has shares or a pension scheme through the deployment of sophisticated IT and telecoms based trading strategies. The self-serving behaviours on show are so brazen and such a betrayal of any sort of professional ethics that they make me want to dig up Tony Benn and apologise to him in person for leaving the socialist workers party. Audible's moderators will no doubt not allow this review onto the website due to the thinly failed swearing and Trot sentiments. C'mon guys - fight the power.
Some readers seem to feel that Surowiecki stretches this idea further than it really deserves thus leading to some repetition or padding. It didn't feel that way to me. Using genuinely interesting examples the author makes a case for how and why the wisdom of crowds works before going on to clarify the conditions that differentiate this approach from a simple matter of asking a bunch of people what they think and averaging the results. In addition to being just long enough it's also well narrated although the production standards are poor; hence the dropped star. Ten minutes in I no longer noticed the slightly muffled delivery.
I think we're all agreed that the content's good if you can get past the narration. But I really haven't found the narration on this one to be that bad. The narrator has a mildly off-putting style and it sounds like the producer has mixed it in such a way that when he speaks quietly we hear every catch in the throat but compared to Barry Cunliffe's Brief History of the Druids or The Red Prince this narrator is doing a grand job. Others have obviously found this a very tough listen but for me the narrator's tone was nicely varied in a way that suggested that he was thinking about he was reading and last but not least this is an important and helpful book for those of us who work in organisational consulting. The production could be better but as with many Audible business titles it does a fine job of saving busy people the time required to sit down and plough through a useful book. Hence 4 stars overall