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, Science, Business

Reviews The Fifth Risk

  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • HBalikov
    Lewis is not a fan of the Trump Administration. If it is politics that initially shaped that determination (and I am not sure it was), it is facts about our government and how it has evolved to provide us with safety, security and information that are the genesis of this book. I found this one of the scariest books I have read about the immediate future in the USA. It haunts my dreams. It makes every day a little bit more difficult to get through...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • David
    This book is about three important but little-understood government agencies. And, the book is about the willful ignorance of the Trump administration, and its attempts to dismantle the agencies before even having the slightest idea, what these agencies do.After the two major political parties nominate a presidential candidate, the candidates form transition teams. These teams are required by law to formulate transitions into government that will...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Iris P
    Do you think you know what the US Department of Agriculture does? Or the Department of Energy? How about the EPA?Michael Lewis spends a big part of his book, The Fifth Risk, enlightening the reader about what these and other US government agencies actually do.He also provides a fascinating behind-the-scenes peek into the Trump's administration transition process and its first months in office.Reading what went on during that period was scary, eve...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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.
  • 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...
  • 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 ...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • 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...
  • Richard
    This book is kind of maddening. I'm giving it 3 stars. One could make a case for 2, 4, or (if I had a different worldview) 5 stars. In my view, parts of this book seem right on and really important. Other parts belie the author's bias, therefore, makes me question how much of this book can be trusted. The book isn't traditionally sourced. It is unclear how he knows what was spoken where he wasn't present. For example, he says Chris Christie said ...
  • 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...
  • 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...