Top positive review
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A fantastic read - but please produce a revised version to provide the definitive account of the crisis of 2008
on 7 February 2010
I won't repeat in detail what many reviewers have already written - but in short by telling the tale from the perspective of the personalities involved and focusing on the drama of the events - Sorkin produces an extremely readable, page-turning account of the 2008 financial crisis.
Instead the main view I wanted to add is that it would be great if Mr Sorkin could produce a revised version to provide what would then arguably be the definitive account of the crisis. The revised version could useful reflect the following points:
1. The current version is very much Wall Street focused (which indeed is what it claims to be). The crisis was however global and inclusion of events such as the drama in Iceland, the rescue of Fortis, the bailouts of the UK banks, etc. would more fully reflect the scope of events.
2. Too Big to Fail does not include all the major events of the crisis - for example a noteable omission is the fact that the crisis revealed other scandals that had been taking place hidden by the excesses of the boom years - Madoff, Kerviel, Stanford and the like.
3. While I loved the dramatic perspective from which the book portrays events and wouldn't want it to be re-written as an academic text, the final chapter which reflects on some of the lessons learned from the crisis could be stronger and could also take a look at what steps could be taken to prevent history from repeating itself.
4. The focus of the current account on events on Wall Street and in Washington unfortunately means the book does not provide any particularly useful insights on how events were actually impacting everyday individuals throughout the world. I'm sure by doing this the events could be put into proper context and additional drama could be provided.
5. I very much understand that there was a race on to get the book out - however I do think that Mr Sorkin's editors/publishers could have done a better job in some respects. There are numerous typos, the odd place where a sentence is repeated twice, and some glaring factual errors (the Canary Wharf business district of London for example is not known as the 'Square Mile' - a title which is reserved for 'the City' itself). The book would also benefit from a contents page, a timeline (particularly because the text jumps around chronologically from time to time) and a glossary of relevant financial terms (explaining what a CDO is, what a derivative is etc. without hampering the text itself).
In my view with these additions this admirable book could well aspire to the title of the definitive account of the 2008 crisis. Without them however it still merits 5 stars as one of the most dramatic business books I have read. My congratulations and thanks to Mr Sorkin.