Al's Reviews > Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

Confidence Men by Ron Suskind
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's review
Jan 03, 2012

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Read in January, 2012

I am willing to believe that in the preparation of this book, Mr. Suskind conducted "... 746 hours of interviews ... with more than 200 individuals..." I for one am glad that he didn't talk to more, or longer, than he did. As best I can determine, this book is a wealth of data and stories in search of a theme. It wanders from story line to story line, and from person to person. It's confusing, if not maddening, to find policies and people first viewed favorably, later unfavorably, and in some cases just lost in the shuffle.
To try to summarize: What I take from this book is that Mr. Suskind views Obama, in his first year, as totally lost, but now, after two-plus years, totally in control; he (Suskind) views Larry Summers as a brilliant, egotistical, manipulative bastard who constantly kept Obama from doing what he (Obama) wanted to do; and he views Tim Geithner as someone who was hopelessly over his head but has suddenly become a master of the universe. It makes no sense, particularly in the case of Summers, since all the things that Obama wanted to do, but was ostensibly prevented from doing by Summers, would have been disastrous if he had actually been able to try to do them. Maybe Summers is obnoxious, but it seems to me that he saved Obama from totally self-destructing.
But, hey, what do I know? Mr. Suskind wanted to write something, he had the contacts and the chops to interview all these people, and there's enough spicy stuff in there, that you won't read anywhere else, to sell some copies. I do believe there are a few people that he won't be having lunch with for a while.
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