In 2008, the satirists at the Onion released a straight-to-video comedy that included a faux news segment on little-known national stereotypes. Dutch people love speaking to telemarketers. Puerto Ricans can dangle from steel beams for hours on end. Irish men have enormous nipples. And poncho-clad Peruvians always swoop in at the last second and save the day.
Well, turns out they missed a few. In “Boomerang,” his latest book on the planet’s seemingly endless financial implosion, journalist Michael Lewis drops in on Iceland, Greece, Ireland and Germany, and chronicles the mess they’ve made of their markets and money. Yet even as “Boomerang” captures the essence of the international economic crisis — as a sort of travelogue version of Lewis’s must-read “The Big Short” — it also offers an odd collection of searing, sometimes funny but mostly head-scratching judgments and stereotypes about the offending countries. Lewis not only shows us what the Greeks and Icelanders and Irish and Germans did to get into trouble, but he attempts to unveil their souls, too. And it’s not a pretty sight.