September 10, 2001 12:00 PM

by Michael Lewis

Just as Al Gore likes to introduce himself as the guy who “used to be the next President of the United States,” the Internet is now the punch line that was supposed to change the world. But the joke is on you, world. So, persuasively, argues Lewis, one of the Net’s few remaining yea-sayers. But this is not a book about balance sheets and stock prices. It’s a book of stories, mostly about kids.

A pimply New Jersey teen busted by the SEC for touting stocks he owned—much as Wall Street firms do with clients’ stocks—pays a huge fine. But he is allowed to keep more than $500,000 because, Lewis argues, the SEC knew they couldn’t win at trial. So much for the credentialed class. Meanwhile, a 14-year-old housekeeper’s son in England is a termite eating the foundation of the entertainment business. His program, unlike Napster’s, allows people to swap songs without a central server—a system seemingly lawsuit-proof. As in Liar’s Poker and his other books, Lewis is a master of the far from obvious, giving a jargonectomy to big concepts. (Norton, $23.95)

Bottom Line: Untangles the Net

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