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, History, Economics, Business, Government

Reviews The Fifth Risk

  • Diane S ☔
    "What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works?"This is the opening sentence in the book summary and also the first sentence inside the book jacket. Lewis takes us inside a few Departments of our federal government, talking to those who work there in the past and present. Showing us what these Departments do what they are responsible for, programs and oversights. Have to admit I didn't know al...
  • 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...
  • Sam Quixote
    Didja know the US gov’mint is a complicated beast? Trump didn’t! And now we’s all gonna DIIIIEEEE! But not really. Michael Lewis’ The Fifth Risk is the latest in a long line of Trumperature hurriedly bundled together and booted out the door to cater to the surprisingly large audience who can’t read enough Trump-bashing. Except Lewis’ effort is a bit more nuanced in its critique of the Trump administration, focusing instead on what its...
  • Melki
    We don't really celebrate the accomplishments of government employees. They exist in our society to take the blame.Our recent government shutdown, the yugest, most tremendous, and longest shutdown in history, served, if nothing else, to demonstrate just how nice it is to have someone helping our aircraft land, and someone picking up the trash in our national parks. We need qualified people taking care of our nuclear waste, and protecting us again...
  • Athan Tolis
    Was reading The Fifth Risk in the tube. A well-dressed man got in, noticed the American flag Jenga on the cover and immediately exclaimed “The Fifth Risk, what do you think?” Before I had a chance to respond, he added in a polite American accent “I love the guy, I devour his books,” perhaps to allow me to temper my answer.I’m a Michael Lewis fan. I’ve read enough of him to think I know him. So I wasn’t shy about my assessment.“Tel...
  • 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...
  • Bill Kerwin
    Once again Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball and The Big Short, chooses as his protagonists a few ingenious manipulators of data, but this time he does so with a difference: the self-effacing statistical warriors he singles out for praise are bureaucrats of the United States federal government, a class generally overlooked and often despised. These bureaucrats, however, are people not only familiar with the resources of their agencies but also c...
  • 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...
  • Richard Derus
    (view spoiler)[I fucking hate each and every person who voted for 45. The gigarich tech bros who enabled 4chan and Cambridge Analytica. And, of course, all you jackass libertarians and white supremacists. (hide spoiler)]This book explains why there is no hope for reconciliation between decent human beings and Trumpanzees.
  • Steve
    America: please read this book.In a nutshell, the book asks the question: "What are the consequences if the people given control over our government have no idea how it works?" Not surprisingly, the consequences are, potentially, disastrous. But the whole point is that too many Americans don't know or appreciate this, and their ignorance (I'm distinguishing actual ignorance from stupidity - I'm giving the benefit of the doubt here - that folks ha...
  • Mehrsa
    One of the most dangerous things said by a politician in recent memory was Reagan’s quip that went something like this: the most scary sentence is “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” What Lewis has gone here is snow exactly how the government helps us even when we are ignorant of its doings. The story that will forever stay with me from this book is the rural town celebrating a local farmer who just got a big loan that he th...
  • Maru Kun
    This looks very interesting based on this excerpt from The Guardian.The review from The New York Times suggests that this will be very interesting as well.
  • Lee
    I'll do a longer review of this at some point. For now, Lewis makes it abundantly clear that the Government roles that Trump has shown zero interest in filling (forgetting all his friends, family and numerous goonish hangers-on who have been given roles they've no intention of even vaguely assuming) are all incredibly important - there are no positions that the likes of Chris Grayling or Dominic Raab could ever fill without being rumbled in days;...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    Government agencies with boring titles like the department of energy, the department of agriculture, the department of commerce that hide their vital functions for US citizens and even the basics of what they do. The department of energy keeps track of spent reactor fuel and nuclear warheads and is vital to enforcing treaties on non-proliferation and tries its best to make sure terrorists or other actors don't build a nuclear bomb (dirty or other...
  • Mal Warwick
    What does government do for us? Do we really need it? What happens if government ceases to do those things? These are the questions Michael Lewis comes to grip with in his powerful little book, The Fifth Risk. By drilling down into the day-to-day realities in a handful of little-recognized federal agencies, Lewis convincingly demonstrates how government protects us from some of "the most alarming risks facing humanity." By extension, he relates t...
  • Scott Rhee
    The cover photo of Michael Lewis’s latest book, “The Fifth Risk”, is the game of Jenga, painted to look like the American flag. For those not familiar with the game, it is an alternating set of three wooden rectangular bricks, roughly eight or nine rows high. The point of the game is to safely remove lower bricks and stack them on top without toppling the entire structure. It’s a pretty straightforward metaphor when related to the Trump A...
  • Steve
    I've read many, many books on disasters--both natural and man-made--and I don't think any of those have scared me more than what I read in this book. My first thought after reading about the non-existent transition team for President Trump's new administration was, "Surely this can't be true." But the author presents example after example of a leadership team that has no idea of what the organizations do that they are supposed to be leading, and ...
  • Jan Rice
    The United States employed two million people, 70 percent of them one way or another in national security. It managed a portfolio of risks that no private person or corporation was able to manage. Some of the risks were easy to imagine: a financial crisis, a hurricane, a terrorist attack. Most weren't: the risk, say, that some prescription drug proves to be both so addictive and so accessible that each year it kills more Americans that were kille...
  • Jim Cooper
    By taking a dive into the Commerce, Agriculture, and Energy departments, this is a love letter to big government - the behind-the-scenes federal employees who keep our nuclear weapons safe, feed the poor, help farmers grow their crops, and feed our weather apps with data. I generally think of myself as a small-government libertarian, but Lewis makes the case that on the whole, our tax dollars are being spent by smart, hard-working men and women (...
  • Lis Carey
    What happens when the people responsible for running our government have no idea how it works--and don't really care?This is a look at how complex the actual workings of our government really are, what the federal agencies actually do, why it matters, and how completely unprepared and indifferent the Trump team was.This is not a partisan work. Not at all--unless you count caring about government working properly as "partisan." But in that case, t...
  • Julie
    This book is a must read. It's only a little over 200 pages but is so so important if one wants a glimpse, told by those who truly know, of our current administration dismantling our democracy and parting out the federal government. The willful ignorance and lack of care is staggering. I know everyone is focused on the Russia scandel, but I'm here to tell you that Russia is not what we should be giving all our attention to. This administration is...
  • Brian
    (4.0) Really enjoyed this, more for the eye-opening look at what various pieces of the executive branch actually doYes, there are several episodes of Trump transition teams never showing up, showing contempt for the government employees welcoming them and eager to teach them what they need to know to keep the country safe, fed and afloat. It’s frightening to learn both how critical some of their work is and how likely it is that Trump’s repre...
  • Dax
    Insightful and informative. Lewis' new book sheds light on the goings-on inside numerous government departments and agencies, particularly the DOE, DOA, and Commerce Department. I confess to ignorance on many of these departments, so there was value to me in that regard alone. But "The Fifth Risk" doesn't just highlight the services provided by these departments, it also reveals the risk associated with mismanagement of these assets. And herein l...
  • Debbie Notkin
    Michael Lewis is an astonishingly good writer, with a particular talent for making complex or seemingly boring topics human and exciting. The Fifth Risk is no exception. The premise of the book is basically that the Trump administration, aside from all of its active depredations of the government, is ignoring thousands of potential problems, tragedies, and catastrophes by not taking the things the cabinet departments do seriously--in fact, by not...
  • Lorna
    The Fifth Risk is the latest book by Michael Lewis, basically exploring the events that transpired after the 2016 election and outlines how the Obama administration prepared to ease the transition of leadership as the Trump administration came into power. It outlines the resistance that was met, and the total lack of even a fundamental knowledge as to how the government runs. I have read a lot of these books recently and, I must say, this book fr...
  • Kressel Housman
    I could not have read this book at a more fitting time. As I was reading, the 2019 government shutdown became the longest one in American history, and it continues as I write this review. This book celebrates government employees, the backbone of our country. They’re not famous politicians vying for good photo ops. They do the unglamorous tasks we never hear about but rely upon anyway.Fans of Michael Lewis know that he likes to tell the stories...
  • Jim Breslin
    In The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis provides a glimpse into the Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, and government data scientists. He explores the work done by these career employees and how they have minimized the risk for Americans in everyday life. This is work that we often take for granted - insuring that our nuclear weapons aren't lost or stolen, testing sites of various national events to insure terrorists aren't utilizing dirt...