The Fifth Risk - Michael Lewis

The Fifth Risk

By Michael Lewis

  • Release Date: 2018-10-02
  • Genre: Politics & Current Events
Score: 4
4
From 153 Ratings

Description

New York Times Bestseller

What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works?

"The election happened," remembers Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, then deputy secretary of the Department of Energy. "And then there was radio silence." Across all departments, similar stories were playing out: Trump appointees were few and far between; those that did show up were shockingly uninformed about the functions of their new workplace. Some even threw away the briefing books that had been prepared for them.

Michael Lewis’s brilliant narrative takes us into the engine rooms of a government under attack by its own leaders. In Agriculture the funding of vital programs like food stamps and school lunches is being slashed. The Commerce Department may not have enough staff to conduct the 2020 Census properly. Over at Energy, where international nuclear risk is managed, it’s not clear there will be enough inspectors to track and locate black market uranium before terrorists do.

Willful ignorance plays a role in these looming disasters. If your ambition is to maximize short-term gains without regard to the long-term cost, you are better off not knowing those costs. If you want to preserve your personal immunity to the hard problems, it’s better never to really understand those problems. There is upside to ignorance, and downside to knowledge. Knowledge makes life messier. It makes it a bit more difficult for a person who wishes to shrink the world to a worldview.

If there are dangerous fools in this book, there are also heroes, unsung, of course. They are the linchpins of the system—those public servants whose knowledge, dedication, and proactivity keep the machinery running. Michael Lewis finds them, and he asks them what keeps them up at night.

Reviews

  • Frightening but pleasantly insightful

    5
    By JohnnyVonRotten
    I highlighted very liberally reading this. The core premise - that the United States government is something that most people really don't understand, or understand the ways they depend and have depended on it, and that the Trump administration is dedicated to staying ignorant even as they're charged with running it - is very effectively communicated. But what's more, Lewis - as he always does - is extremely adept at actually educating you in the process and making you care about the things he cares about. Some of his personal portraits, too... Fantastic book. If you want to better understand some of the pieces of our government, and understand the stakes of placing them in the hands of inept cronies... read it.
  • The Fifth Risk

    4
    By Dccyclist222
    As a young journalist, I was told there are no dull stories, just dull writers. Lewis takes what would be a dull subject, the energy and commerce departments, and makes it exciting, including tornado chasing by the National Weather Service. My only complaint is the book is fairly short.
  • Another Winner

    5
    By Bossgolfer1
    Mr. Lewis does it again. One of my favorite authors.
  • A bit thin.

    2
    By trsilvius
    I am a democrat, but blaming the right for this level of complexity is absurd. One or two managers out of 100,000 do not matter a bit. Please check on how long it took prior administrations took to build cabinets. In short, a very thin book with biased and thinner arguments. Remember, I am the resistance!
  • another useless liberal rant

    1
    By WeldonT3
    when will intelligent people realize liberal governing elites care only about themselves? This is just another rant without an understanding that many many government posts are nothing but patronage.
  • Enlightening & Breathtaking

    4
    By Colin Izer
    The Fifth Risk, the new book by Michael Lewis (Liar’s Poker, Moneyball, The Big Short), is a tour de force. His main message is that our federal government does a lot of good things that we don’t understand or properly appreciate; and that we have a lot of smart, decent, mission driven people working in it. That’s 90% of his message. The other 10% pans the incoming Trump administration for being unwilling and unable to grasp this or manage it. Leaving his politics aside, his stories about people and functions within relatively obscure agencies like Agriculture, Energy and Oceanic/Atmospheric are enlightening and breathtaking.
  • Best and lovely

    5
    By Cleanheart202
    Best and lovely book ever