The Fifth Risk - Michael Lewis

The Fifth Risk

By Michael Lewis

  • Release Date: 2018-10-02
  • Genre: Politics & Current Events
Score: 4
4
From 308 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

  • The Fifth Risk

    5
    By Hetz W.
    What a great presentation of facts, people and circumstances into a story that is hard to put down. As scary as many of the details are...it’s important for all Americans to understand the current state and the amazing people that have insured our safety and security throughout their service to our country and communities. Well done...I only hope Mr. Lewis gets on more shows to share his findings. I see another movie in the making soon.
  • Interesting narrative, interesting thesis, but.....

    3
    By Ms. Hush Puppy
    Is this a book? I read this in e-book form so when it ended, I was surprised. Lewis's thesis is not fully-fleshed out, but is well-supported in parts. No real conclusions or predictions or parallels to other branches of government--why or why not.
  • 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.
  • Somewhat of a bait and switch

    2
    By PR 475
    As I read the sample section this book had my full attention. Shortly after I downloaded and paid for it ,the focus shifted and became less interesting. I thought it was going to describe the mindset of the Donald. I was bored all the way to the finish line or in this case the cash register. Come on Mike you can do better than this!
  • 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.
  • Promising setup, incomplete finish

    3
    By BBALL coach 22
    Full of interesting anecdotes and Lewis’ energetic style. And quite revealing as to Trump’s approach to transition (there wasn’t any) and some key appointees (figureheads at best). Many cabinet positions and departments were not addressed. And ones that were...maybe more on what might be the long term impact of the ignorance in DC. Entertaining and fast, but wanted more.
  • Yes, yes, Trump is evil…we get it.

    2
    By ManicMonkeyMojo
    Yawn. Another boring Trump is so dumb, and the people who support him—ugh, so gross! Whereas, the eternally employed, never fired, bureaucrats who staff the behemoth that represents the modern state? Wow, they’re so great. And handsome/beautiful. And smart. Not once, not on any page of this book does the author take a step back and ask pertinent questions about the alleged horrors he imagines are assaulting the great, hulking edifice of the U.S. government. Why, for example, are there not enough appointees? (Answer: because the great bureaucratic behemoth purposely withholds necessary clearances, and those who make it past the post find themselves under constant harassment and bogus HR and Inspector General investigations.) Why do appointees discard briefing materials? (Answer: they’re written by the permanent bureaucracy, to benefit the bureaucracy and its nefarious outside lobbyist cabal.) Why are important programs being gutted? (Answer: because they aren’t important, are duplicated throughout the various departments of the U.S. Government, and waste untold billions of dollars on bureaucratic overhead.) Why aren’t the experts listened to by the barbarians at the gate? (Answer: because those experts got us into two 20 year wars that never seem to end, and bailed out the wretched Wall Street banksters who have hallowed out the country, but who never have to pay the price for their gambling.) All-in-all a boring, pedantic waste of time to make the author feel good about himself and his virtue. Yawn.