Michael Lewis’ undergraduate thesis advisor suggested that he not pursue a career in writing, based on his 166-page senior thesis titled "Donatello and the Antique." Despite feeling the first twinge of literary ambition at Princeton, Lewis eschewed creative writing courses and studied Greek and Roman sculpture instead, intending to become an art historian. As many career plans go, Lewis’ took some unexpected swerves.
Following his 1982 graduation with a Bachelor of Arts in art and archaeology, Lewis began a career on Wall Street, working as a bond salesman at Salomon Brothers. The experience stirred up his storytelling urge and prompted him to write his first book, Liar's Poker, which was published in 1989 and ultimately launched his writing career. As a financial journalist and New York Times best-selling author, the New Orleans-born Lewis has published 16 books on subjects ranging from presidential campaigns, to Silicon Valley, to the evolution of America's cultural landscape. Three of his books — Moneyball, The Blind Side, and The Big Short — have been made into popular Hollywood films. In addition to his longer works, his magazine articles have appeared in publications including Vanity Fair, The New York Times Magazine, The New Yorker, Gourmet, and Sports Illustrated.
The connection between Lewis and his alma mater has remained quite sturdy over the years. In recognition of his many contributions to American letters, Princeton honored the Ivy Club member with an invitation in 2012 to be the keynote speaker during Princeton’s 265th Baccalaureate ceremony. On a lighthearted note, he joked that having studied art history, he graduated sure of only one thing: “I was of no possible economic value to the outside world.” But with a bit more gravitas, Lewis also urged the new graduates to embrace the good fortune of their Ivy League education. “Don’t be deceived by life’s outcomes,” he advised. “While not entirely random,(they) have a huge amount of luck baked into them. Above al,l recognize that if you have had success, you have also had luck — and with luck comes obligation. You owe a debt, and not just to your gods. You owe a debt to the unlucky.”