The Fifth Risk

The Fifth Risk

Book - 2018
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"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.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, 2018
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781324002642
1324002646
Branch Call Number: History 320.973 Lew
Alternative Title: 5th risk

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t
tluciv
May 06, 2019

Slight, scary argument for the importance of “basic competence” in government, and its complete lack in the current incarnation (Trump White House).

m
MikeHanafin
Apr 28, 2019

The author of "Moneyball" takes a close look at the "transition" (or lack thereof) between the Obama administration and the clown show that followed. Specifically in three crucial, but mostly misunderstood US government agencies (Energy, Agriculture, and Commerce) and how they were impacted. (hint, badly, very badly). So many dedicated and committed government employees were tossed aside, and their knowledge ignored. It will take years (if not decades) to recover that. The last quarter of the book focuses on impacts on the National Weather Service, which is truly sand, and potentially dangerous.
Great summation: "It (the rift) was between the people in it for the mission, and people in it for the money".
Some of the commenters above clearly haven't read the book, and their comments should be removed. Go yell on twitter.

a
AQUILEA777
Mar 20, 2019

DEFY THE COWARDLY FREE-SPEECH HATERS! TILT YOUR SCREEN SLIGHTLY TO READ THIS.
I have seen only reviews and the Amazon sample of this book, but its premise reeks of hypocrisy. DEMS DO NOT WANT TRUMP TO GOVERN EFFECTIVELY FOR THE GOOD OF THE COUNTRY. They want to make it IMPOSSIBLE for him to govern. They want him to fail, and the country to suffer, so they can denounce him in books like this.
--- The book seems to be a string of anecdotes without sources. Blaming Trump for unprofessionalism, author Lewis holds himself to no standard at all. If a Trump insider said something off the record, Lewis should qualify it so, not state it as an absolute fact.
--- Detractors heaped scorn on Trump from the moment he announced his run. They said he was merely a trickster playing a cruel joke to boost his commercial endeavors. They insisted he had no chance, even after easily winning the nomination. Hoping to depress Republican turn-out, they guarantied Trump would be trounced by Hillary. They warned he might try to disrupt her presidency. They piously hoped his supporters would accept defeat and unite around Our First Woman President. They kept up this charade well into election night coverage. Bear all this in mind when you read pronouncements from them now.
--- When Trump won, some Media Liberals wept openly. Others denounced straight White male voters ("deplorables"), dropping all pretense of neutrality. The Web has countless collections of clips of their foolishness.
--- Author Lewis takes up the baton of hypocrisy at that point, blaming Trump for not having prepared for victory. This is grossly unfair. Very late on election night, Trump appeared before the cheering throng and spoke easily and graciously. Hillary, so much more qualified, so much better suited by temperament, failed to appear at all. She couldn't muster the will power to do it. Probably she was drunk. Perhaps she was screaming and throwing things, as she sometimes did when out of control.
--- Lewis attacks Trump's transition performance. Remember what Dems were doing at that point. Against their recent posturing for unity, they denied Trump's presidential legitimacy: "Not my president!", "Resist!", "Russia/FBI conspiracy!" They rioted, vandalized, beat and shot Republicans. They violently took over campuses to suppress free speech. They required recounts (which only increased Trump's lead), and sought to corrupt the Electors. They demanded the Mueller witch hunt be established as an arm of government superior to the Executive. Liberal judges issued untenable orders to delay Trump's program.
--- Lewis blames Trump for not standing in awe of bureaucrats. But the majority of voters in 30 states approved Trump's thesis that Government is strangling in agencies and regulations, keeping core problems from being solved.
--- Friendship with Russia should be the first presidential goal lest the nation suddenly become a smoldering radioactive heap. Trump wanted such friendship, but Dems have made it impossible. They prefer a new Cold War with nuclear brinkmanship to acceptance of electoral defeat.
--- Backed by hypocrites like Lewis, House Dems have subpoenaed vast numbers of records on Trump officials without any pretext at all, just to frighten and paralyze the Administration. Cf Mueller's nighttime Gestapo raid on elderly Roger Stone and wife, designed to terrorize Trump officials.
--- Bill Clinton began his presidency by lawlessly ransacking hundreds of confidential FBI files on Republicans. How upset was Lewis over that? How do the Trump-hating commenters feel about it? Is crime OK for Dem leaders?
--- After winning, Trump said he did not wish to prosecute Hillary's email transgressions because "the Clintons have suffered enough." Dems want no such reconciliation. Their shining ideal is to make people hate Trump. In the coming primary debates, each of the 2020 Dem hopefuls will claim, as her chief qualification, that she hates Trump more.

m
Memawrayne
Mar 17, 2019

Every American should read this to understand what their government does for them with their tax dollars to keep them safe. It is very informative. Trump won't carry out his responsibilities so many of us will not enjoy these important services that we are entitled to. Funds are being slashed for these very services.

q
Quackhead
Mar 13, 2019

Scarier than anything Stephen King ever put to paper.

o
orangelibrarycard
Mar 06, 2019

Remember all that stuff you learned in government class? How all the departments are so mis-named. This book is enlightening and alarming. The transition of power during the Trump ascension to Despot of the United States.

m
MaxCW26
Feb 27, 2019

Another great book by Michael Lewis. Not an uplifting read in the face of the current administration but a necessary read for all Americans. My only issue with the book is it's length. I wish it was longer.

r
rlbeekman
Feb 20, 2019

Maybe Michael Lewis's best book yet. Perfect pitch in writing about the important topic of how the Trump administration's neglect and contempt of government is wrecking important functions and accomplishments of different cabinet departments over the last 90 years.

b
burdeckija
Feb 19, 2019

NYT Notable Books of 2018

a
Azmetcalf
Feb 18, 2019

As a former government employee, I can attest to how much turmoil a new administration can create if they are uninformed or disinterested about the way government works. This book is spot on in capturing that. Good read.

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d
dirtbag
Feb 13, 2019

The list of things that might go wrong inside the DOE was endless. The driver of a heavily armed unit assigned to move plutonium around the country was pulled over, on the job, for drunk driving. An 82 year old nun cut through the perimeter fence of a facility in Tennessee that housed weapons-grade nuclear material. A medical facility ordered a speck of plutonium for research, and a weapons lab clerk misplaced a decimal point and FedExed the researchers a chunk of the stuff so big it should have been under armed guard---whereupon horrified medical researchers tried to FedEx it back. pg 56

d
dirtbag
Feb 13, 2019

Since Perry was confirmed, his role has been ceremonial and bizarre. He pops up in distant lands and tweets in praise of this or that DOE program while his masters inside the White House create budgets to eliminate those very programs. His sporadic public communications have had in them something of the shell-shocked grandmother trying to preside over a pleasant family Thanksgiving dinner while pretending that her blind-drunk husband isn't standing naked on the dining room table waving the carving knife over his head. pg 48

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