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.
The Fifth Risk is a 2018 political book by Michael Lewis. It examines the transition and political appointments of the Donald Trump presidency, especially with respect to three government agencies: the Department of Energy, the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Commerce. Lewis is known for his non-fiction works The Big Short, Moneyball and others. As of February 3, 2019, it has been on The New York Times non-fiction best-seller list for 14 weeks.Barack and Michelle Obama have acquired the rights to the book for a possible Netflix series to better understand the U.S. Government...
Wow, what a great book. I always pick books that I feel might test my political views, most of them do for a day two, this one continues to resinate. 55
Awful attempt to persuade reader that government is useful. Private enterprise would do a better job if given the same footing! Johnny spastic 15
I can’t figure out what the point of this book is. It’s just a few interviews with some civil-service workers whom Lewis seems to have selected at random. They’re all unhappy with the Trump administration because there is no direction from above. I get that, but Lewis makes that point in the first few pages. After that, it just rambles along with one pointless anecdote after another. 15
I thought this book was more about the Trump administration not staffing various positions in the federal government. Instead it was a fascinating look at what leads various government employees to do what they do, and how important (and underappreciated) their jobs are. In that regard, the book was fascinating. 45
I have always enjoyed ML’s books and agreed with and learned things. This one was a flop!! Michael I’m sorry you don’t like President Trump, at least half of the country loves him. He won and I’m guessing your candidate lost. Go back to your old style of writing and keep your political beliefs to yourself. 25
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. 55
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. 35
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. 55
Slow but satisfying. The author has a knack for shedding light on the unnoticed facets of our government. And the negligence that they are faced with in this administration. 45