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Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President Hardcover – 5 Dec 2011

4.8 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 528 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 2 edition (5 Dec. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061429252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061429255
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 4.1 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 777,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Suskind's account of the Obama administration is a marker of our times. It reveals a President unable to perform responsibly the duties of his high office. . . . Suskind's contribution to this tale of woe is to give us a fine grained picture of Obama's passive place in deliberations."--"Huffington Post""The Huffington Post"

"The book paints a harsh, stark portrait of a president in over his head. . . . Suskind makes a compelling case that Obama was able to win the election because he was talking to the right people."--"The Daily Beast"

"This narrative. . . keeps you reading long after you've absorbed the White House's petty criticisms about the book. The portrait of Obama that emerges here is sympathetic, even though Suskind addresses the president's failings. . . . Though the book toggles between Washington and Wall Street, the freshest material comes from Suskind's deep access to the West Wing."--"Bloomberg"

"The White House says Suskind talked to too many disgruntled former staffers. But he seems to have talked to a lot of gruntled ones, too. The overarching portrait of chaos, lack of intellectual depth and absence of political wisdom, from a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, rings true."--"The Wall Street Journal"

"Ron Suskind's book is . . . the one that makes the most sense. . . . The shudder-inducing bits of "Confidence Men" come when the team is too optimistic about how its policies will play out. The confidence allows them to move on too quickly."--"Slate"

"Written in sharp, cinematic scenes, in which the main players in the administration are captured in full-blooded, uncensored conversation, "Confidence Men" sprawls across the multiple crises of the opening two years of the Obama presidency. . . . Suskind's central thesis deserves to be taken seriously."--"Financial Times"

"Suskind is not calling Obama a confidence man here. Rather, he presents a president who is not up to the task of outmaneuvering a political and economic system that is packed full of confidence men."--"Time"

"This is wonkish stuff, but the you-are-there, personality-driven nature of Suskind's writing is compelling."--Bethany McLean, "The Washington Post"

"A searing new book. . . . Suskind has a flair for taking material he's harvested to create narratives with a novelistic sense of drama."--Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times"

"Suskind does a magnificent job explaining the way an economy centered on debt has decimated the middle class and made the top 1 percent of Americans impossibly wealthy. . . . Suskind describes a leader pulled off course by his staff."--Joan Walsh, "Salon"

"The work that went into "Confidence Men" cannot be denied. Suskind conducted hundreds of interviews. He spoke to almost every member of the Obama administration, including the President. He quotes memos no one else has published. He gives you scenes that no one else has managed to capture."--Ezra Klein, "The New York Review of Books"

"No book about the Obama presidency appears to have unnerved the White House quite so much as "Confidence Men" by Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has developed a niche in the specialized art of parting the curtain on presidential dealings."--"The Chicago Tribune"

"A[n] authoritative window on the inner workings of the administration and a useful management primer on how not to run an organization. . . . "Confidence Men" is crammed with interesting detail."--"Fortune"

"A truly groundbreaking inside account. . . . Penetrating in its analysis of why the administration's approach to the country's economic ills has been so lackluster. . . . An important addition to the growing library of books about this president."--Joe Nocera, "The New York Times Book Review"

"This portrait of the president's management of the economic crisis is an extraordinary story of ineptness, callowness and pitiful inexperience in office. . . . Indeed, the book represents some sort of watershed, a formal measurement of the distance between the perception of a vaunted political figure and the reality."--Michael Wolff, "GQ"

""Confidence Men" doesn't just expose the secret goings-on that explain so much about how our government works. It also makes so much of the mainstream press coverage look shallow and credulous by comparison."--Dan Froomkin, "The Huffington Post"

"My Book of the Year. A narrative tour de force. . . . Journalism like this is all too rare in an ange in which reporters trade their critical faculties for access. And it's even rarer that skeptical reporting is turned into something lasting."--David Granger, "Esquire"

"This inside account of the Obama economic team contains enough damning on-the-record quotes to give it the ring of truth despite White House efforts to discredit the narrative of infighting and missed opportunities. Read it and weep. It reminds me of the post-Iraq invasion books that documented a similar failure to rise to the enormity of the problem, whether the insurgency was in Iraq or on Wall Street."--Eleanor Clift, "Newsweek"

"Savvy and informative. . . . The most ambitious treatment of this period yet. . . . Suskind's book often reads like Halberstam's "The Best and the Brightest." But the quagmire isn't a neo-Vietnam like Afghanistan--it's the economy."--Frank Rich, "New York"

"The book of the week, maybe the book of the month, is Ron Suskind's "Confidence Men." . . . A detailed narrative of the Administration's response-sometimes frantic, sometimes sluggish, sometimes both-to the financial and economic catastrophe it inherited, as experienced from the inside."--Hendrik Hertzberg, "The New Yorker"

Savvy and informative. ... The most ambitious treatment of this period yet. ... Suskind s book often reads like Halberstam s "The Best and the Brightest." But the quagmire isn t a neo-Vietnam like Afghanistanit s the economy. --Frank Rich, "New York""

A searing new book. ... Suskind has a flair for taking material he s harvested to create narratives with a novelistic sense of drama. --Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times""

No book about the Obama presidency appears to have unnerved the White House quite so much as "Confidence Men" by Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who has developed a niche in the specialized art of parting the curtain on presidential dealings. --"The Chicago Tribune""

A truly groundbreaking inside account. ... Penetrating in its analysis of why the administration s approach to the country s economic ills has been so lackluster. ... An important addition to the growing library of books about this president. --Joe Nocera, "The New York Times Book Review""

The book of the week, maybe the book of the month, is Ron Suskind s "Confidence Men." ... A detailed narrative of the Administration s response-sometimes frantic, sometimes sluggish, sometimes both-to the financial and economic catastrophe it inherited, as experienced from the inside. --Hendrik Hertzberg, "The New Yorker""

The work that went into "Confidence Men" cannot be denied. Suskind conducted hundreds of interviews. He spoke to almost every member of the Obama administration, including the President. He quotes memos no one else has published. He gives you scenes that no one else has managed to capture. --Ezra Klein, "The New York Review of Books""

Suskind s account of the Obama administration is a marker of our times. It reveals a President unable to perform responsibly the duties of his high office. ... Suskind s contribution to this tale of woe is to give us a fine grained picture of Obama s passive place in deliberations. --"Huffington Post""The Huffington Post""

My Book of the Year. A narrative tour de force. ... Journalism like this is all too rare in an ange in which reporters trade their critical faculties for access. And it s even rarer that skeptical reporting is turned into something lasting. --David Granger, "Esquire""

This inside account of the Obama economic team contains enough damning on-the-record quotes to give it the ring of truth despite White House efforts to discredit the narrative of infighting and missed opportunities. Read it and weep. It reminds me of the post-Iraq invasion books that documented a similar failure to rise to the enormity of the problem, whether the insurgency was in Iraq or on Wall Street. --Eleanor Clift, "Newsweek"" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

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. But in August 2007, 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, offering the first full portrait of his tumultuous presidency.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a well written and well resourced this book. It reports dispassionately how a talented African American politician born in Hawaii and emotionally remote from ordinary American people became President Of The United States. It reveals how the Democratic Part establishment exploited his gift for speaking from the rostrum on TV and in town halls to get elected and then when he was POTUS made him dependent on the views of more experienced advisers before reaching decisions, acting more as moderator than a chairman.

A really good read for those who wish to understand how the Washington political system is working in 2012.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you liked the West Wing as much as I did, then you will love this.

Suskind has a great writing style, he manages to (pretty much) articular often complicated concepts very clearly and in a way that a lay-person could understand (I think - I have worked in finance, so its a little hard to tell). But the great thing here is the way he binds it all together into a top story and yarn that (if you can remember all the characters!) ends up being as informationally rich as it is entertaining.

Of course none of that gets around the central point of the book, which is of course that Obama monumentally screwed up in his first term, and that though the GOP is providing precious little viable alternative at the moment, we have a man in the White House now for a second term who we should be deeply and justifiably very concerned about.

The message here is clear: it is unlikely that the world's economy can take more of this. I hope someone is listening. This book shoudl have been required reading for every voter in the USA.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I I first reviewed this book in 2011, shortly after publication, and found it interesting, but frustrating because of Suskind’s writing style. I didn’t finish the book.

However I have now come back to the book, in 2016, and reread it totally because I hoped it would help me think more clearly about Obama’s presidency.

This is in fact the new review, with the old review at the end, as Amazon won’t let me add a second review!

The main thesis of this book is that Obama, in his first two years, was wishywashy and indecisive, at least on the two main issues that the book covers, namely the economy and the handling of the economic crisis, and the introduction of health reforms.

It should be understood that Suskind says absolutely nothing about foreign policy, or any other issue except the two mentioned, and the problem with that is that it leaves out any consideration of how much pressure Obama was under in his efforts to deal with the legacy of the extraordinary presidency of George W Bush, who wrecked the economy, and started two massive messy wars. He had so many urgent problems to deal with all at once.

It’s nevertheless a great book, and offers exceptional insight, by virtue of the very large number of interviews carried out with all the major players, into exactly what the options were in resolving the economic crisis and instituting health provision reform.

However Suskind never really makes his own position clear, and deals out large measures of implied praise and implied criticism not only to Obama but also to other major players, especially Summers. I felt that Suskind could not really make up his mind whether Obama just ducked the major decisions, or whether he really did the best anyone could do, given the circumstances.
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Format: Hardcover
If ever a moment was ripe for change, it was in the fall of 2008. A young president-elect had tapped into the anxieties and fears of a nation suffering through its worst economic crisis in decades. Barack Obama offered Americans hope in a better future but then hit the power-sucking nexus of Wall Street and Washington. Journalist Ron Suskind offers an insider's look at the machinations, power plays and personalities within the first year of the Obama White House and examines Obama as president against a backdrop of global drama and uncertainty. Suskind's more than 200 interviews with top participants in both finance and government - including the president - provide a telling story of how campaign promises can slam up against the intransigent realities of governing. While remaining, as always, totally neutral in terms of political points of view, getAbstract recommends Suskind's book for its particularly lucid exposition of the unfolding financial crisis and how all-too-human politicians and bankers, who - despite the cautionary admonition of former presidential chief of staff, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel - "let a crisis go to waste."
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