The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

The Fifth Risk

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 ...

Details The Fifth Risk

TitleThe Fifth Risk
Release DateOct 2nd, 2018
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
GenreNonfiction, Politics, Business, Economics, History

Reviews The Fifth Risk

  • Daniel Simmons
    For readers who are cynical about the operations of the U.S. government generally, and even more cynical about the (mis)operations of the current administration specifically, there's a lot in these pages to make even your worst fears about public sector project mismanagement seem tame in comparison to reality. Lewis outlines, in his typically snappy/funny/ironic/incisive style, just how devastating the consequences of government inattention and i...
  • Darwin8u
    "It's the places in our government where the cameras never roll that you have to worry about the most."- Michael Lewis, The Fifth RiskI've read several books about President Trump and his administration in the last couple years. They all depress me a bit. I feel like I'm reading some real-time version of Gibbons' 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'. But none of the other Trump books scared me like this one did. Lewis isn't interested in the Fo...
  • Kent Winward
    This is the most disturbing account of the Trump presidency I have read. Lewis simply writes about how the current administration has dealt with vital parts of our government which we all benefit from each day. I've watched it happen in my legal practice with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and Lewis details the horror in the Department of Agriculture, the DOE, and data science. It is simply awful.
  • Andrew
    A dramatic telling of the undramatic parts of the US government's bureaucracy. It's a surprisingly inspiring book that makes you want to go join the civil service and improve your society.
  • Brad
    Lewis is such a remarkable writer that I sometimes find myself envious of his ability to forge a compelling story where there doesn't seem to be anything. It's useful to contrast The Fifth Risk with Bob Woodward's Fear, which I inhaled last month. Woodward's book ferrets out things that happened — crescendos of malevolence and arias of incompetence — unbelievable though they sometimes seem.In contrast, Lewis' amazing little book — it arriv...
  • Mac
    I'm enough of a Michael Lewis fan to have ordered The Fifth Risk months ago without knowing what it's about. At that time, I assumed the title was Lewis's typical, enigmatic key to the book's meaning (think Lewis titles like Moneyball, The Blind Side, and Flash Boys). Having now read the book, the title does deliver on its promise of encapsulating the book's intention. But that's about all The Fifth Risk delivers for me. Though it opens with a dr...
  • DT
    This is a pretty great book and a fast read, but it is a repackaging of 2 articles that Michael Lewis already wrote about the transition period to the new administration at the Department of Energy: and the Department of Agriculture: It didn't go very well, and these departments do very useful and important things.That covers about 2/3 of the book; the last par...
  • John Bordeaux
    Turns out “inside the Beltway” there toil actual humansDelighted to see public service get a hearing for once. Even if the author tends to treat civil servants like rare exotic beasts, he still manages to capture the sense of tension, fear, and loss across the federal government. I suppose the author reflects most Americans in having no clue what the government actually does for Americans. Revealing that is itself a small public service.
  • Sherri
    This books is maybe 10% or less critique of the Trump administration and 90% a deep dive into how some government agency actually function. It was interesting to read about how very talented people ended up in these agencies and worked to try to make the agencies better. If you have zero interest in that level of detail about the federal government, then this is not the book for you.
  • Paul McKinlay
    Amazing. In a very entertaining way, Michael Lewis gives insight to what the major federal agencies actually do and actually are responsible for, which was shocking on its own. Then later in how poorly, neglectfully, and sometimes not at all, the Trump admin has assumed taking them over. It’s pretty obvious how that administration is approaching managing the govt - and it’s scary as hell.
  • Shane Benson
    FascinatingThis book provided fascinating insight into little known Departments and areas of the Federal government that manage huge areas of risk that effect huge swathes of the population. It also demonstrated how ill prepared the current administration is for managing those risks.
  • Nikki Golden
    This is a must read.
  • Ken Hamner
    Outstanding book and very disturbing. The brief discussion of the disorganized and odd transition after the election was one thing, but the discussions about the Department of Energy was far more disturbing. Well worth reading.
  • Steve Nolan
    The prologue was the only new part for me - the first two chapters were magazine pieces and the last were "The Coming Storm" but the prologue alone was A+
  • Jackie
    This book is by equal turns terrifying and fascinating.Ignore people who say this is a political hit job--Lewis details behavior that is OBJECTIVELY bad. If pointing to this administration's bad behavior and saying "bad," is a political hit job to someone, well, they need to work on their critical thinking skills. In his customary engaging prose, Lewis explores a few threads which were already of interest to me:- What amazing things governments a...
  • Nilesh
    Michael Lewis explores the Trump transition, an important but less discussed topic, in his inimitable style, brings forth some great narratives but misses in taking the right lessons, likely because they would have contradicted his long-held beliefs.Before I discuss the contradictions and the reasons behind my rating, some words on the content. A lot of content of this short audiobook is available through the author's own articles in recent days ...
  • Mr. Banks
    The Fifth Risk is Michael Lewis' newest book about the lack of department leadership caused by the current administration, and about the the heroes of the government who are keeping the country running despite all the difficulties and risks.Takeaways:- The US government’s greatest risk is project management, which deals with long term problems by implementing faulty short term solutions, and the current administration is multiplying this risk. ...
  • George
    So I agree with the professional reviewers that suggest it feels a bit underdone, not quite there, but clearly on the right track in terms of his analysis and thinking. It's a short book, basically three pieces on a single theme.Basically, Michael Lewis has written a book about a) what government agencies actually do, and b) what happens when you give control of them to people who not only don't know what they do and how valuable that is, but are...
  • Andy Grabia
    “‘I’m routinely appalled by profoundly ignorant even highly educated people are when it comes to the structure and function of our government,’ she said. ‘The sense of identity as Citizen has been replaced by Consumer. The idea that government should serve the citizens like a waiter or concierge, rather than in a ‘collective good’ sense.’”“There was a rift in American life that was now coursing through American government. It ...
  • Robbie Forkish
    This is different from the many kiss & tell books about Trump and the White House. Michael Lewis focuses on how the Trump administration handled the transition to power, and how they have governed three huge departments: agriculture; energy; and commerce. Spoiler alert: it's scary bad. There's a combination of willful ignorance about what the function is of government, and ideological dismantling of functions that are far more essential and compe...
  • Anthony Hughes
    Well written as usual and worth a read but a bit disjointed as some parts a critique of Trump administration and some parts about the working of govt departments. I get it we probably do forget how important the Agriculture, Energy and the Commerce Departments are and what they actually do...and there are some very sensitive parts of government (managing the nuclear arsenal) that need careful management and leadership. Then again there are a lot ...
  • Eitan Hershkovitz
    Well written as usual by Michael Lewis. A book filled with information on government agencies that reads like a thriller novel. This book does such a great job explaining all the things the government does, to let us live the lives we want to live, that we don't even think twice about and, it emphasizes why the inaction by president Trump is hurting millions of Americans and putting many more American lives at risk for no other reason than "ThE B...
  • Justin
    Could really use more written on this topic, the things the government does that you’re not aware of and take for granted that also might kill you. My one criticism would be that I wished the book was twice as long to cover more. It’s really a topic that doesn’t get enough coverage in the press. I fear that when the day comes to catalogue the damage being done to our govt institutions it might be too late and much of the damage will be irre...
  • Vasil Kolev
    This is not a full book, mostly the start of one. It needs not only to expand the amount pieces of government involved, but also the time it encompases, as it basically stops at a few months into the Trump administration.Actually, a guidebook on government (even the American one) would be very useful and interesting, I wonder if someone has compiled one.
  • Bill
    Not bad, except that Michael Lewis touched on several ideas that he has presented in other books. Not much was spent on the current administration and more could have been spent on new ideas. This honestly could have been a shorter book, because there is a lot of content from his prior books.
  • Mounir
    Never loved a book this scaryI have read quite a few ( if not all ) of Michael Lewis books, loved and read over and over again Moneyball and the Big Short but this book is making me scared , angry and wanting to vote ASAP.
  • Mariya
    3.5 stars
  • Sam Smith
    Interesting view on the unsung heroes of the government and how this administration has caused damage to it.