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Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President | [Ron Suskind]

Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

The hidden history of Wall Street and the White House comes down to a single American concept: confidence. Both centers of power, New York and Washington, learned how to manufacture it - until August 2007, when that confidence began to crumble. Ron Suskind here 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".
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

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3.9 (282 )
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  •  
    Ann T. O'toole 03-07-15 Member Since 2010

    no2l

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Good Book, Disappointing President"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Confidence Men to be better than the print version?

    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 other book might you compare Confidence Men to and why?

    Not Sure.


    If you could give Confidence Men a new subtitle, what would it be?

    WHAT the President SAID To the BANK Bosses Behind Closed Doors!


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kate Santa Barbara, CA, United States 10-16-14
    Kate Santa Barbara, CA, United States 10-16-14 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Boring, Boring, Boring"
    What disappointed you about Confidence Men?

    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.


    Has Confidence Men turned you off from other books in this genre?

    No, I have listened to many books like this that were great.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    There was nothing in this book that I could point to as a "favorite".


    What character would you cut from Confidence Men?

    The author.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    michael Santa Monica, CA, United States 07-03-14
    michael Santa Monica, CA, United States 07-03-14
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    "Ridiculous version of history"
    What disappointed you about Confidence Men?

    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.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Ron Suskind again?

    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.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of James Lurie?

    This book never should have been created for Audible. Its bad enough it is in print. Find someone whose voice is inaudible.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Confidence Men?

    There are too many to count. The whole premise of the book is wrong and uneducated.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mike SEATTLE, WA, United States 04-15-13
    Mike SEATTLE, WA, United States 04-15-13 Member Since 2011
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    "Obama is not Liberal enough..."
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    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.


    If you’ve listened to books by Ron Suskind before, how does this one compare?

    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.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    mc2kelly CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, United States 02-12-13
    mc2kelly CHICAGO, ILLINOIS, United States 02-12-13 Member Since 2012
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    "Interesting Read"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    Yes. It was a glimpse at what happens "behind the curtains"


    What did you like best about this story?

    Introduction to the players and what happened


    What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

    The power plays going on


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Charles Cyr Underhill, VT, United States 06-21-12
    Charles Cyr Underhill, VT, United States 06-21-12 Member Since 2015
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    "Corruption and Greed"
    What made the experience of listening to Confidence Men the most enjoyable?

    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....


    Have you listened to any of James Lurie’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No. He did a fine job with this...


    If you could give Confidence Men a new subtitle, what would it be?

    I think "Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President" is very apropos.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Roger Marietta, GA, United States 05-07-12
    Roger Marietta, GA, United States 05-07-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Why we should hate Bankers, and Govement failed"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    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!


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    None...


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No--Got too mad


    Any additional comments?

    Great book! I learned I didn't want to know what I now know

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sherman 03-26-12
    Sherman 03-26-12

    Sherman bookee

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Very revealing"
    Would you listen to Confidence Men again? Why?

    I would listen to this again. It reveals the weakness of our leaders.


    What was the most compelling aspect of this narrative?

    You learn that you can't trust the Cabinet members. That Wall Street has infiltrated the Executive Branch of our government.


    Have you listened to any of James Lurie???s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Lurie does an excellent naration.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken Draeger SCOTTSDALE, AZ, US 02-27-12
    Ken Draeger SCOTTSDALE, AZ, US 02-27-12 Member Since 2015

    I'm an avid listener who is always in search of another good listen. And I'm willing to share my thoughts with an occasional review.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "EXCEPTIONAL VIEWS INTO THE INSIDE"

    This is a no apologies approach to descriptions of how the administration dealt with the economy when it became clear it would dominate the first few years of the Obama presidency. Obama and his staff members are described, criticized, and praised. If you wonder why certain policy decisions went down the way they did, this will help you to understand.

    Obama's economic IQ is low and he's a prideful person who would prefer not to show weakness...especially in front of his staff members. After all he is the President. Unfortunately, his staff didn't have the option of being able to defer the economic decision making until the POTUS had time to get up to speed. As Larry Summers put it to another senior staff member "you realize we're home alone here."

    The economic team was poorly organized and suffered from personality conflicts. The roles were not well described, and that delayed policy decisions and made the whole process difficult. Obama sorely needed the skills and experience this team had to offer, but he lacked any real experience of how to lead and or manage these highly qualified specialists. Summers in particular seemed to cause the most friction. He was overbearing, unable to accept responsibility for error and seemed to project an aura of "too bright to fail." Basically, he didn't play well with others.

    The banking negotiations were poorly handled. The government was long on leverage, and the bankers knew it. But the government surprised them by not asking for the obvious in return for the money. Same way with the Wall Street crowd. With all the complaining about compensation packages, you would think the Street would have to show some restraint. To the delight of the Street execs, the threat was leveled, but it was all for show. It just didn't have the teeth to stick.

    Net net, the book describes how a team of very well intentioned, bright, hard working people try to solve very large, complex and important economic puzzles for the benefit of their country.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    CmH - HB, CA 02-19-12 Member Since 2013
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    "Packed with information but seriously biased"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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