Confidence Men by Ron Suskind
Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

51%

18 Critic Reviews

Bloated, portentous, reeking of self-­importance, Ron Suskind’s“Confidence Men” is the most frustrating of books.
-NY Times

Synopsis

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 intro-duces 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.

 

About Ron Suskind

See more books from this Author
Ron Suskind is the author of The Way of the World, The One Percent Doctrine, The Price of Loyalty, and A Hope in the Unseen. From 1993 to 2000, he was the senior national affairs writer for The Wall Street Journal, where he won a Pulitzer Prize. He lives in Washington, D.C.
 
Published June 19, 2012 by Harper Perennial. 959 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
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Peak Rank on Oct 09 2011
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Weeks as Bestseller
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Critic reviews for Confidence Men
All: 18 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 10

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on Nov 15 2011

Most interesting as a clear-eyed assessment of the passion of Obama, or what remains of it.

Read Full Review of Confidence Men: Wall Street, ... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Joe Nocera on Sep 30 2011

Bloated, portentous, reeking of self-­importance, Ron Suskind’s“Confidence Men” is the most frustrating of books.

Read Full Review of Confidence Men: Wall Street, ... | See more reviews from NY Times

LA Times

Below average
Reviewed by David Lauter on Mar 22 2012

The more fundamental problem, however, lies in the book's overall analytical lens. 

Read Full Review of Confidence Men: Wall Street, ... | See more reviews from LA Times

The Washington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Bethany McLean on Sep 23 2011

In the end, I wondered if the author himself were the real confidence man, the ultimate untrustworthy narrator.

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Huffington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Brad DeLong on Sep 26 2011

Two and a half years ago I would have given long odds that Ron Suskind's 
book would provide me with a lot of the answers to these questions. It does not.

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San Francisco Chronicle

Excellent
Reviewed by Glenn C. Altschuler on Nov 13 2011

In "Confidence Men," Ron Suskind (…) provides a hard-hitting assessment of the inner workings of the Obama administration.

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Slate

Below average
Reviewed by Jacob Weisberg on Sep 22 2011

His book about Obama is as spurious as the ones he wrote about Bush.

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The New Republic

Below average
Reviewed by John B. Judis on Sep 13 2011

In this respect, Suskind’s book is already dated.

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Chicago Tribune

Excellent
Reviewed by Bernard Vaughan on Sep 30 2011

Action-packed anecdotes abound as he traces the economic dramas of Obama's first two years.

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The New York Review of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Ezra Klein on Nov 24 2011

It is not an impartial or unbiased look at the Obama administration’s first two years.

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FA Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Eleanor O'Sullivan    on Nov 23 2011

Obama will need every bit of confidence he can muster.

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Creative Loafing

Good
Reviewed by John Grooms on Oct 11 2011

Obama was one unsure, nearly lost soul during his first couple of years in office.

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Publius Online

Below average
Reviewed by Daniel B. on Dec 13 2011

I may come back to it later, but right now, it feels repetitive.

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Political Books

Good
Reviewed by Editor on Dec 01 2011

In Confidence Men Suskind is a much harsher judge of the advisers who often whipsawed Obama around and even, in the Treasury Department’s case, slow walked direct policy orders.

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The Writer's Paradox

Below average
Reviewed by TWP on Jun 06 2012

Grab it to go, but don’t miss dinner over it.

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Lutheran Writer

Below average
Reviewed by Edward Engelbrecht on Dec 09 2011

I would recommend this book only to those who are steeped in presidential history, economic history, or who have interest in finances.

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Cutting Edge History

Good
Reviewed by Steve on Nov 18 2011

Despite push back from the administration upon its release, Confidence Men seems to pain an accurate picture.

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Pundit Review

Good
Reviewed by Pundit Review on Oct 31 2011

This book is the ideal companion to the Occupy movement.

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Reader Rating for Confidence Men
75%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 140 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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