The Fifth Risk

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 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.

Title:The Fifth Risk
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781324002642
Format Type:

About Michael Lewis

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    The Fifth Risk Reviews

  • 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 jacke...

  • 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 administrati...

  • 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 hu...

  • ??? Michaelle ???

    Holy shit. I read the excerpt at The Guardian and everything that's gone wrong up 'til now (starting just before the election) makes total sense.Also, if that small bit is any indication, the writing ...

  • 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...

  • 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 pa...

  • 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....

  • 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 ...

  • 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 ...

  • 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 statist...