From its beginning to its final line ('It’s what you fail to imagine that kills you'), Michael Lewis reveals so much, and writes so insightfully, as he tackles what would seem to be the most mundane of his many magnificent investigations. The federal bureaucracy? But, instead of dull and wonkish, his new book is a spellbinding, alarming analysis of the most serious threats to Americans’ safety happening now from inside the U.S. government. And, Lewis nails the most catastrophic threat to your continued existence ... The book is a brilliant indictment of Trump and his appointees’ foolhardy ignorance of what federal agencies actually do and how.
In The Fifth Risk, Michael Lewis reminds us that government middle managers often carry large responsibilities, a proposition few would challenge. He also argues that their current top boss, Donald Trump, is incompetent, a claim that deserves closer examination. Mr. Lewis, a celebrity journalist of sorts, writes breezy nonfiction books that read so much like literary fiction that sometimes...Hollywood producers rush to put them on the silver screen. It’s a little hard to imagine The Fifth Risk ending up as a movie, but one never knows.
Lewis is a supple and seductive storyteller, so you’ll be turning the pages as he recounts the (often surprising) experiences of amiable civil servants and enumerating risks one through four (an attack by North Korea, war with Iran, etc.) before you learn that the scary-sounding 'fifth risk' of the title is — brace yourself — 'project management.' Lewis has a reputation for taking fairly arcane subjects — high finance, sovereign debt, baseball statistics, behavioral economics — and making them not just accessible but entertaining. He does the same here with government bureaucracy, though The Fifth Risk feels a little underdone compared to some of his previous books ... For the most part, though, he keeps the narrative moving, rendering even the most abstruse details of government risk assessment in the clearest (and therefore most terrifying) terms.