The hidden history of Wall Street and the White House comes down to a single, powerful, quintessentially American concept: confidence. Both centers of power, tapping brazen innovations over the past three decades, learned how to manufacture it.
Until August 2007, when that confidence finally began to crumble.
In this gripping and brilliantly reported book, Ron Suskind tells the story of what happened next, as Wall Street struggled to save itself while a man with little experience and soaring rhetoric emerged from obscurity to usher in "a new era of responsibility". It is a story that follows the journey of Barack Obama, who rose as the country fell, and offers the first full portrait of his tumultuous presidency.
Wall Street found that straying from long-standing principles of transparency, accountability, and fair dealing opened a path to stunning profits. Obama’s determination to reverse that trend was essential to his ascendance, especially when Wall Street collapsed during the fall of an election year and the two candidates could audition for the presidency by responding to a national crisis. But as he stood on the stage in Grant Park, a shudder went through Barack Obama. He would now have to command Washington, tame New York, and rescue the economy in the first real management job of his life.
The new president surrounded himself with a team of seasoned players - like Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers, and Tim Geithner - who had served a different president in a different time. As the nation’s crises deepened, Obama’s deputies often ignored the president’s decisions - “to protect him from himself” - while they fought to seize control of a rudderless White House. Bitter disputes - between men and women, policy and politics - ruled the day. The result was an administration that found itself overtaken by events as, year to year, Obama struggled to grow into the world’s toughest job and, in desperation, take control of his own administration.
Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Ron Suskind introduces readers to an ensemble cast, from the titans of high finance to a new generation of reformers, from petulant congressmen and acerbic lobbyists to a tight circle of White House advisers - and, ultimately, to the president himself, as you’ve never before seen him. Based on hundreds of interviews and filled with piercing insights and startling disclosures, Confidence Men brings into focus the collusion and conflict between the nation’s two capitals - New York and Washington, one of private gain, the other of public purpose - in defining confidence and, thereby, charting America’s future.
©2011 Ron Suskind (P)2011 HarperCollinsPublishers
Say something about yourself!
While a little tedious at times, this account of Obama’s first 1000 days (give or take) provides insight into why this great orator, who offered a vision of a better America, is an ineffectual President. The extent to which Obama was both supported and advised by the same Wall Street players that got rich while helping to create the financial meltdown is both insightful and disturbing.
I was disappointed to not hear about the influence organized labor played with this President, but this is a story about Obama and Wall Street. The author has some good connections into the inner workings of the administration, but does not seem to have a grasp of how the failures of financial regulation caused the very problems they were supposed to prevent.
The story line gets lost a bit when the author tries to explain the financial meltdown in terms of evil bankers versus virtuous regulators. He meanders into long stories describing how bankers gave into their craving for wealth and power, setting in motion a series of events that almost destroyed the economy.
The story is much more complex than that, as is implied when Lawrence Summers warns Geithner to “never admit you were wrong”. As we all know, Summers was part of the administration that relaxed financial regulation a decade earlier.
I recently listened to bios on FDR, Truman, JFK. I will go out on a limb to say Obama shares FDR’s lack of understanding of what to do, but lacked his ability to give people confidence in what he was doing. Obama and Truman both came from political machines, but Truman did a great job addressing the challenges in the post-war period, while Obama worries about getting re-elected. After listening to “1961” and “Brilliant Disaster”, I conclude Obama and JFK are comparable in many ways – marvelous at campaigning, dismal at leading.
The Impact of Hearing this brings the story Alive! That's Always the case for the difference between Print and Audio, for me. Since I am ~ gaining an advance in age ~ listening is gaining in virtue!
WHAT the President SAID To the BANK Bosses Behind Closed Doors!
The MAIN Point of This Book ~ For ME ~ was that the President Let Them OFF The Hook when they were Behind Closed Doors! I have had a Hard Time being as completely supportive of the president, since. The Only Escape Clause I can conjure up to justify this, on behalf of the president, is ~ they were the people he had to work with ~ in going forward ~ to Fix the Economy AFTER the Wreak the the Bush 43's administration ~ Left. In March of 2015 ~ it is a better economy, but human nature being what it IS ~ I Don't Think the Lessons they Should Have Gotten (think ~ 'woodshed') have been Learned. It Can Happen Again and IF or When It Does ~ We will WISH We Had the Opportunity ~ that the 'president' that is now 'set' ~ will prevent! I think the Book was Fine and actually preformed a patriotic service of letting Us Know What Happened. The president may have Had To Do what He Did ~ In His Own Mind ~ but I felt Let Down, which the message of the book revealed. Disappointed from that perspective. Personal Opinion, I suppose.
I was so interested in the topic but found it so boring that I could not even get close to finishing it. I tried to listen to it twice (with about 2 years in-between!) and just could not get engaged with the story. I kept thinking "who cares?". Not me.
No, I have listened to many books like this that were great.
There was nothing in this book that I could point to as a "favorite".
It is not based on any version of what or why the credit crisis occurred. Rather it is a fairy tale of events to try to promote corrupt politicians like Elizabeth Warren.
Never. It took a lot of effort to twist facts the way he did in this book. This author has a extreme left wing agenda.
This book never should have been created for Audible. Its bad enough it is in print. Find someone whose voice is inaudible.
There are too many to count. The whole premise of the book is wrong and uneducated.
I'm glad I listened, because it helped me understand a point of view that I didn't understand before. I read this book because it was recommended to me by a professional college with a very dark view of our country's economic future. I didn't realize the level of liberal bias from the author's view point prior to listening to the book. I figured it out pretty quick when Elizabeth Warren (Miss min. Wage should be $24 per hour) was characterized by the author as one of the most brilliant people on the face of the planet. I have a healthy skepticism about books like this that are written as a fly on the wall perspective on some of the most powerful people in the world. If you would like to understand why the far-left has been dissatisfied with Obama's first term this book is for you.
I have not, but I googled him halfway through listening and read some scathing opinions of the author that lead me to further distrust the validity of some of the quotes in the book. My problem with the author is he tries to give the impression that this is a hard hitting unbiased review of Obama's economic policy's but never really gets there. All the blame goes to Larry Somers and the harshest criticism of Obama is that he is too collegial and not Liberal enough.
Yes. It was a glimpse at what happens "behind the curtains"
Introduction to the players and what happened
The power plays going on
Very fascinating to have illuminated the intermingled workings of Washington and those greedy bastards on Wall Street. I thoroughly enjoyed this, even though it made my blood boil at times.It shows how Obama was subtly corralled by some in his cabinet, so they could save their banking friends from full blown popular disgrace....
No. He did a fine job with this...
I think "Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President" is very apropos.
Inside story on how the Greedy Bankers took us down the road of a great depression. We also find out that neither Dem’s nor Repub's didn’t help. Makes you want to hold the financial leaders for Treason. Terrorist are a threat, but these guys can do a lot more damage.. and faster!
No--Got too mad
Great book! I learned I didn't want to know what I now know
I would listen to this again. It reveals the weakness of our leaders.
You learn that you can't trust the Cabinet members. That Wall Street has infiltrated the Executive Branch of our government.
Lurie does an excellent naration.
I was looking for the story of government's dealings with the Wall street debacle of the last few years. Unfortunately, the author's bias ruined what could have been a fascinating story of greed and collusion. If you believe that Obama and the democrats can do no wrong, you will love this book. But if you are looking for an accounting of the actual events of 2007-2010 with the credit and blame falling where the events dictate - keep looking. Too bad.
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