Fifth Risk
by Lewis, Michael

The best-selling author of Liar's Poker presents a narrative account of the post-2016 election chaos that took over Washington to reveal how a small number of uninformed Trump appointees are triggering devastating world consequences.

Michael Lewis is the best-selling author of Liar's Poker, Moneyball, The Blind Side, The Big Short, and The Undoing Project. He lives in Berkeley, California, with his wife and three children.

*Starred Review* If Bob Woodward's best-selling Fear? pulled back the curtain on the willful ignorance and toxic politics behind the Trump administration's brand of federal governance, Lewis reveals the frightening effects such governance could have on the massive and critically important agencies under its purview, including the Department of Energy (think nuclear), the USDA (food security), and NOAA (natural disasters). These agencies aren't abstracts, or deadweight, but are instead-as Lewis lays out with characteristic detail, clarity, and pertinence-essential in maintaining a safe, fully functioning civil society. As the DOE's John MacWilliams tells him, there are five major risks to the U.S.: a domestic accident with nuclear weapons, North Korea, Iran, an attack on the electrical grid, and-the "fifth risk"- failures in project management. Such failures could easily stem from an administration Lewis says has, from the outset, shown little interest in the actual workings of its federal agencies. And so, for example, former Texas governor Rick Perry, who couldn't remember the agency he wanted to abolish, the DOE, now leads it. And the newly appointed Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who, when informed his department, which includes the National Weather Service and the Census Bureau, is a science and technology mission, allegedly replied, "Yeah, I don't think I want to be focusing on that." As Lewis concludes ominously, "It's what you fail to imagine that kills you." Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Lewis (The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed Our Minds, 2016, etc.) turns timely political reporting he published in Vanity Fair into a book about federal government bureaucracies during the first year of the Donald Trump presidency.At first, the author's curiosity about the relationship between individual citizens and massive federal agencies supported by taxpayer dollars did not lead him to believe the book would become a searing indictment of Trump. However, Lewis wisely allowed the evidence to dictate the narrative, resulting in a book-length indictment of Trump's disastrous administration. The leading charge of the indictment is what Lewis terms "willful ignorance." Neither Trump nor his appointees to head government agencies have demonstrated even the slightest curiosity about how those agencies actually function. After Trump's election in November 2016, nobody from his soon-to-be-inaugurated administration visited federal agencies despite thorough preparation within those agencies to assist in a traditionally nonpartisan transition. Lewis primarily focuses on the Energy Department, the Agriculture Department, and the Commerce Department. To provide context, he contrasts the competent transition teams assembled after the previous elections of George W. Bush and Barack Obama. Displaying his usual meticulous research and fluid prose, the author makes the federal bureaucracy come alive by focusing on a few individuals within each agency with fascinating—and sometimes heartwarming—backstories. In addition, Lewis explains why each of those individuals is important to the citizenry due to their sometimes-arcane but always crucial roles within the government. Throughout the book, unforgettable tidbits emerge, such as the disclosure by a Forbes magazine compiler of the world's wealthiest individuals list that only three tycoons have intentionally misled the list's compilers—one of the three is Trump, and another is Wilbu r Ross, appointed by Trump as Commerce Secretary. As with nearly all of Lewis' books, this one succeeds on so many levels, including as a well-written primer on how the government serves citizens in underappreciated ways. Copyright Kirkus 2018 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

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