If you’re not watching Billions on Showtime, you are absolutely missing out. It’s like if Wolf of Wall Street and House of Cards had a corrupt little baby. And, honestly, we can’t think of anything that sounds better than that!
The star-studded show is nearing the end of its second season, which concludes on May 7, and if you haven’t been watching, we’re promising you that you’re going to want to binge Billions immediately.
Billions stars Paul Giamatti as Chuck Rhoades, the cutthroat U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who’s gunning for hedge fund manager Bobby “Axe” Axelrod. Played by Damian Lewis, Axe seems philanthropic, but he’s secretly using insider trading to grow his empire. Rhoades becomes determined to take him down, despite the fact that his wife Wendy (Maggie Siff) is a loyal employ of Axe’s. Rhoades and Axelrod are kind of like the Tom & Jerry of Wall Street, playing a dangerous game of manipulation, bribery and power in order to try and stay one step ahead of the other. It’s a well-acted, intense drama that is guaranteed to hook you from the first episode.
As the latest season comes to a close, here are four books that definitely capture the corruption and insider intrigue of Billions:
Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street, Sheelah Kolhatkar (Random House, February 7, 2017)
Though fictional, Billions is loosely based on hedge fund manager Steve Cohen and his relationship with U.S. Attorney, Preet Bharara – which is also the subject of journalist Kolhatkar’s new nonfiction book. Kolhatkar dives deep into Cohen’s life and how he built SAC Capital, a hedge fund that eventually became a 15 billion dollar empire. For years, Cohen was seen as an eccentric genius who could do no wrong – until his entire empire came crashing down on him, thanks to a long, intense government investigation into his use of insider trading. Kolhatkar chronicles it all, giving us a close look at how Cohen rose to success and how he fell so far. She also turns her sharp journalistic eye on Wall Street in general, and why its just as corrupt today.
Big Law, Ron Liebman (Blue Rider Press, January 10, 2017)
Corruption is the name of the game in former lawyer Liebman’s latest legal thriller. Carney Black is a lawyer for a prestigious NYC law firm, called Dunn & Sullivan. He’s used to working with Big Business, defending those rich clients who are clearly in the wrong (he’d probably be defending Axe!). So when he decides to take a case where he’ll represent the victims instead, he’s intrigued by the thought of turning a new leaf. Of course nothing goes as planned, and Liebman crafts a true cautionary tale of Big Lawyers interacting with Big Business. If you’ve ever wanted to know about the corruption of law at the highest levels, then this book is for you.
A Man For All Markets: From Las Vegas to Wall Street, How I Beat the Dealer and the Market, Edward O. Thorp (Random House, January 24, 2017)
Thorp is a legendary mathematician and author of the bestselling Beat the Dealer, a mathematic guide to gambling that came out in the 1960s. A Man for All Markets is a memoir about his life, but it also dives heavily into his experiences on Wall Street, and how he helped revolutionize quantitative finance. Thorp learned how to ‘beat the system,’ by using mathematical formulas to dominate the market, making him one of the original quants. Not only is this memoir riveting and juicy (Thorp rubbed elbows with everyone from Warren Buffett to Claude Shannon), it’s also informative: Thorp explains the complicated financial principles in a way that almost anyone can understand. Any fan of Billions will be drawn to Thorp’s intelligent, insider view of what actually happens on in the world of finance.
Confessions of a Wall Street Insider, Michael Kimelman (Skyhorse Publishing, March 28, 2017)
Kimelman’s memoir is a direct look into what it means to be on Wall Street – the good and the bad. Like Axe, Kimelman was the founder a successful hedge fund. But it all came crashing down in 2009 when the Feds arrested him at his suburban home. Always maintaining his innocence, Kimelman ended up serving time in the Lewisburg Penitentiary for almost two years. This memoir was mostly written while he was in prison, reflecting on the people and actions that brought him there. This true story is filled with plenty of scandal and insider knowledge that will definitely appeal to any Billions fan.