I read this book not long after "Too Big to Fail." It has the benefit of being a first-hand account by the senior government official in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis: we learn much more in this book of the background thinking and concerns of top Treasury and Fed officials who were trying to cope with the onset of financial panic and meltdown. Put another way, the book offers much clearer context and explanation of the policy thinking than did the Sorkin book. The book keys on personal conversations and meetings, which keeps it interesting. There are revealing sketches of Mr. Paulson's interactions with Congressional leaders and the President, which show how completely unprepared they all were for the scope and severity of the financial crash. The weakest part of the book is the Afterword in which Mr. Paulson lays out the policy reforms that are needed in order to avoid a like financial disaster in the future. Although a vitally important and urgent reform (and one Congress and the Administration to their shame have still not addressed 18 months after the 2008 meltdown), this part of the book reads like a bland press release from the Treasury Department.
This book is well worth reading for a better understanding of the 2008 financial collapse. It is focused on the response to the financial meltdown at the highest levels of government and industry. It does not, however, provide particular insights into the irresponsible business practices that led to the crisis in the first place.
This is an excellent, thoughtful and insightful account for anyone with an interest in how the US government works at the highest levels. Don Rumsfeld???s government service in influential positions began during the Presidency of Lyndon Johnson and continued through his service as Defense Secretary to George W. Bush. What emerges is a picture of high-level policymaking based on incomplete information, evolving facts, good-faith differences among Cabinet officials, and subject to pressures from damaging news leaks, often-inaccurate news reports and partisan opponents, as well as the changing mood of public opinion. Throughout his account Mr. Rumsfeld offers his personal critiques of colleagues he differed with on particular issues and of policy choices that were made. He does not exclude himself from such criticism. However, the book never descends into personal attacks or attempts to ???trash??? his former colleagues. Rather, the critiques appear more in the nature of explaining why he felt things could have been done better or why a colleague???s statements or actions were ???unhelpful,??? as he often liked to say.
There are opinions he shares in this account with which many will disagree. His defense of the decision to go to war against Iraq is one such example. He points out, however, that the critics of the war have to answer whether we would be better off with the alternative: a Saddam Hussein regime still in power and having reactivated its WMD programs in clear defiance of UN resolutions. I personally was not persuaded by his criticism of Jerry Bremer???s early decision when on the ground as the Coalition administrator in Iraq to slow down the pace of the handover of government to the Iraqis.
I think Bremer may well have been right to be concerned that handing over power too early to an Iraqi group not equipped to govern might have resulted in something like the ???Weimar Republic??? that led to disaster for Germany in the 1930's
The Robert Gates memoir is highly candid and thoughtful. It sets forth without sugarcoating the challenges and frustrations facing a thoughtful and highly competent policymaker in the highest levels of US Government. Many of the frustrations he cites are rather alarming if not fully surprising—e.g., irresponsible US politicians focused simply on political favor at home; unrealistic policy goals; bureaucratic inflexibility in the face of clearly urgent priorities at the war front; allies that are allied in name only. It is not surprising that Mr. Gates considered his time as Defense Secretary during both the Iraq and Afghan Wars as anything but a joy. The one exception he cites is the inspiration he received from meeting and visiting with young soldiers, sailors, marines and members of the Air Force throughout his term of office.
I highly recommend the book for a very realistic look at the behind the scenes realities of making policy at the Cabinet level in the US Government and of dealing with allies and adversaries throughout the world on security issues. It is not a pretty picture, but I commend Mr. Gates for writing a “reality check” that we can all profit from reading.
50yrs old / audible member for 5 yrs library. 75% nonfiction, 15% classics and 10% fiction. History/Science/biography/Eng.18th cent fiction
This is the most popular book of the multi book johnson bio. Unfortunately many of the other books have yet to come to audible which is kind of unbelievable to me !! I cant rate this book highly enough. Its content is so incendiary and insightful, and the outstanding quality of the writing will spoil you. You will surly want to check out Caro's other masterpiece after this called THE POWER BROKER . These 2 books are truly must reads .
There is one thing that is very wrong with this book and it bothers me greatly. it's that your paying 3 credits in the end for 1 book. This dividing books into volumes is a sneaky and unfortunately encroaching method of drawing out more of your credits than you may be fully aware of. This book isn't THAT long to fairly divide it up into ``volumes`` nor are many of the other books this has been increasingly done to.
So lets call a spade a spade, Its a three credit book o.k.` I see Mcculloughs latest unabridged offerings are offered as 3 credit books with no shell game. those of us that spend freakishly long hours on this site have noticed this recent move to increase the credits for books in the above manners and more. email them and tell them this 3 credit crap is to much!! Thats at least $30 for 1 book! When it comes to that, its worth getting them from the library for free. I love this site, I have over 900 titles, The reason I keep spending all this money is because it has been good value. Theres no longer any point in continuing when so many of the titles double or triple in price.If their testing the waters to see what they can get away with,,the result will be the permanent loss of their most ardent subscribers.