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The Fifth Risk

Written by: Michael Lewis
Narrated by: Victor Bevine
Length: 6 hrs
4.5 out of 5 stars (215 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

What happens when the President of the United States governs one Tweet at a time? When the elected leader of the free world may not have a firm grasp on the names of government agencies, much less an understanding of their intricate inner-workings? In the days following the 2016 inauguration, government personnel searched for answers that didn’t exist, while White House staff scoured halls for employees who would never be appointed.

Lewis’s insightful work is as much a testament to the unsung heroes who routinely go unnoticed in the unglamorous business of government as it is a criticism of the current administration’s negligence. He finds tireless public servants whose conviction and deep awareness keep schools in session and food programs afloat. Far from anti-government, The Fifth Risk is a powerful ode to those rare people who hold firm in their convictions and, despite all odds and opposition, remember why they got into government in the first place: to benefit society and better mankind. 

Please note: Included with The Fifth Risk is the entirety of The Coming Storm, the Audible Original story of two scientists who revolutionized climate predictions, bringing warning systems to previously unimaginable levels of accuracy. Michael Lewis uncovers the potential cost of putting a price tag on life-saving information.

©2018 Michael Lewis (P)2018 Audible, Inc.

What the critics say

"Narrator Victor Bevine has a low, restrained voice that underlines Lewis's sense of foreboding.... Bevine narrates deliberately but varies his tone to keep the audiobook interesting... He also pauses effectively to allow us to consider the meaning of the author's words." (AudioFile)

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Elections have consequences

What happens when someone not interested in the government gets elected to run it? Michael Lewis focuses on the transition from the Obama administration to Trump. In so doing, he scared me more witless than a stack of Steven King horror films. Ignore at your own peril.

5 people found this helpful

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too short!

great narration, amazing topics of the devolution of trust toward government planning and the stacking of political appointments with ideologues but I thought there would be more!

2 people found this helpful

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Not much new here

I hate when authors do this, if you want to write a new book, write a new book. I love Micheal Lewis and I pretty much pick up anything he puts out. I was disappointed with this book because I kept feeling that I was buying this book a second time, it felt old, I could barely glean any new information. I was going to return it as I thought I duplicated the title but after going through my library, I found that I had not bought it twice. Turns out he wrote another book called "The Coming Storm" which formed more than half of this book. I feel ripped off so I will be returning this one for my money back!

1 person found this helpful

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Eye Opening.

The book is eye opening. I cannot comment on Trump's politics. I am not an American and I have no skin in the game. However, if this book is true, I am shocked at his administration's actions. I shudder to think of the state of these critical departments after he leaves office.

3 people found this helpful

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Good not great

I like Michael Lewis but the book beats around the point and belabours it at others. Worth a listen to because it’s informative but not the best optiob

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Not balanced

I've generally been a big fan of Michael Lewis, but lately not so much. The book was an attempt to demonstrate how badly the Obama - Trump transition was...talking about federal departments and how wonderful they were before the transition. I'm not a fan of Trump...at all...but I find the media is doing a poor job of accurately representing the true facts of both sides of the story. I do a lot of work with government and I guarantee that there was far more inefficiencies and waste and bloat with the previous administration than Lewis leads on. I just couldn't accept the narrative at face value based on my personal experience. I don't disagree that the new administration probably did away with a lot of quality programs in a wreckless and careless way, but they probably got rid of things as well that were ineffective and wasteful as well,.but because of a very clear bias in the narrative it's really hard to work through the book with an objective and open mind. The one thing I found striking was how all these wonderful government programs went unnoticed, that's why they've been nixed because no one knew what benefit they were bringing. Well then, that is that fault of the past administration. A government is basically like running the biggest company in the world. if you, as the leader of that company can't convince your clients...your people and your voters that your company services and programs bring value, then don't be surprised that no one buys in and the programs get nixed. I've come to realize that when I have negative thoughts towards another country...it's not their people...or their culture...or appearance...or food that I dislike....it's their government....and around the world, all government's right now are dissapointing, uninspiring and incompetent. Past and present. Malcom Gladwell's - Talking to Strangers I found to be a much more balanced approach to disecting a topic or event. It provided the type of depth and balanced contrasting opinions and facts that mainstream media has completely forgotten how to do. I read books like this now because given how incompetent media has become, i rely on them to get a better sense of the truth. Lewis has been good about this in the past...this time not so much. Home Game was fun though :)

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Your tax dollars at work

What does the US government do? Much more than you know. Michael Lewis chronicles the stories of the unsung heroes who work behind the scenes to keep America and the world safe from disaster. A compelling counter argument to Trumpism.

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The book had some interesting parts

It was an account of the things that have gone wrong since Trump took office. There were some interesting stories but it tended to drag on too much. Everyone pretty much know how things have been screwed up in this administration so it would be nice to cover some new topics.

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Two books?

This is clearly two separate small books spliced together. It is not a cohesive work. Although interesting at times, it is also rambling in the second half.

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on and on and on

yes Trump and his cohorts are slimy as hell. they know nothing about actually running the government. the US will be cleaning up the mess left behind for years.

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  • Jonathan Russell
  • 2018-12-21

Mini-book

I’m a fan of Michael Lewis and his quirky and smart personality comes through as always. The book feels like he merged a couple chapters of one book with a couple chapters of another. The stories of the complete indifference and incompetence of the presidential transition quickly veered into the stories of some amazing people who work for the government. Both sides were interesting enough, however the two halves (of an already thin book) didn’t meld together. A miss for me.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 2018-10-11

Disappointed

Almost 1/3 of this book was already released on audible as “the coming storm.” I like Michael Lewis and his writing but I feel cheated that I used a credit on it. The main message of the book was already in The Coming Storm.

55 people found this helpful

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  • Amit M
  • 2018-10-04

Awkward and Disappointing

I am a huge Michael Lewis groupie. The undoing project is literally my favorite book. That's why I feel so awkward writing this review as I was deeply disappointed with this book (and with audible as well). As an audible member I recently got for free the book "The coming storm" by Michael Lewis. An awesome gift I thought. I read it and thought it was quite nice. Then, a few weeks later when The Fifth Risk was out, I was super excited to read that too. Half way through The Fifth Risk I discovered, to my surprise, that The Coming Storm is actually *the 2nd half of The Fifth Risk*. What??? So for the full price of an already short audiobook (5 hours) I got original content of just 2.5 hours. Money and value aside, this is just bizzare story telling! couldn't someone notify me these two books have the same content?? Why would I want to read the book's end before its start? Other than that, the book is just ok. some truly interesting parts but I didn't feel a strong overarching theme (but maybe this is my fault as I read the 2nd part of the book few weeks before its first part... :/ ). Narrator is great. If you ever decide to read this book do yourself a favor and don't read "the coming storm" AKA the second half of this book beforehand.

281 people found this helpful

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  • Darwin8u
  • 2018-10-06

Knowledge makes life messier

"It's the places in our government where the cameras never roll that you have to worry about the most." - Michael Lewis, The Fifth Risk I've read several books about President Trump and his administration in the last couple years. They all depress me a bit. I feel like I'm reading some real-time version of Gibbons' 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'. But none of the other Trump books scared me like this one did. Lewis isn't interested in the Fox/MSNBC politics or the Twitter-level anxiety of the Trump administration. He is interested, in this book, in the systematic and bureaucratic failures of the Trump administration and what risks this administration's lack of professionalism (this is beyond politics, thisis about competency of governance) might mean to our country and our people. Lewis does this using his usual approach (which is a bit similar to John McPhee's new nonfiction approach). He finds interesting people who become narrative heros and guides to an area and ties them together into a compelling story or narrative. The areas Lewis explores? Presidential Transitions (guide: Max Stier); I Department of Energy/Tail Risk (guides: Tarak Shah, John MacWilliams), II USDA/People Risk (guides: Ali Zaidi, Kevin Concannon, Cathie Woteki), III Department of Commerce/All the President's Data (Guides: Kathy Sullivan, DJ Patil, David Friedberg). This is a short book. It is relevant but still not top-shelf Lewis. I enjoyed it, but just wished it was bit longer and a bit deeper*. It * I get the irony. This books scared the sh!t out of me. It made me sad. Therefore, I wish it were longer.

50 people found this helpful

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  • Bit of a Geek
  • 2018-10-09

Real Disappointment for a Michael Lewis Fan

I cannot fathom why a great writer like MIchael Lewis would agree to such a stupid stunt. I listened to The Coming Storm and really liked it. About half-way through The Fifth Risk, I couldn't believe that I was listening to the The Coming Storm again. I literally started a chat with Audible about having gotten a corrupt file. When they couldn't help me, I went back to the book description and saw the "warning label" about this book being The Coming Storm with a couple of chapters added on the front. I literally thought that The Coming Storm was a book that Lewis decided not to finish, so he gave it to Audible. Now I realize that The Fifth Risk is the book he didn't finish and The Coming Storm was the best part of it. I'm really disappointed in Audible and in Michael Lewis. Audible should rethink its "Only from Audible" strategy. So far, it is definitely cheapening an otherwise great brand.

58 people found this helpful

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  • mhenry
  • 2018-10-05

All over the place

I have loved all of Lewis's other books. They had a clear story and a clear point, even if it took several chapters to really find out what it was. The Fifth Risk is really all over the place. We started out with the series of events that led up to Donald Trump getting elected and how poorly he managed the transition. Then we talk about the way some of the government departments were run before he was elected. Then we talk about NOAA and weather data and how the Trump administration revoked public data sets because AccuWeather is greedy. Then we talked about tornadoes in Oklahoma. There was no real story, no climax, and no real point to it all other than the obvious "Trump is bad, and the people he has appointed are either stupid or just not the right people for the jobs to which they were appointed." (that's not a quote from the book, it's just what I took away as the major theme of it all). This is not a political statement at all, as he cites very clear evidence that it's an accurate reality...I just had really hoped there was more to it than that. Pretty disappointed in this one.

59 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 2018-10-08

Michael Lewis never disappoints

I am a Huge fan of all of Michael Lewis’s work this is another great book.

8 people found this helpful

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  • peter505
  • 2018-10-08

Your vote matters

Another great Michael Lewis book which makes it so clear why we need to pay close attention to who we give power to

7 people found this helpful

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 2020-02-09

Opens Your Eyes to what is going on behind the sce

Really gets behind the scenes of the Trump administration. The details in this book should scare everyone.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Philip Greenberg
  • 2020-02-01

all US citizens must read

this book nearly brought me to tears. and I learned so much about our country.

2 people found this helpful