The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy

The Fifth Risk: Undoing Democracy



The Pequod Review:

The Fifth Risk is an excellent book about bureaucracy, and specifically the departments and sub-departments of the federal government that are responsible for a variety of essential public services. Michael Lewis profiles the day-to-day activities of small divisions within the Department of Energy (nuclear waste monitoring), Department of Agriculture (food safety and food stamps), and Department of Commerce (weather forecasting) — all to illustrate how the US government really works at the ground level.

Donald Trump is rarely mentioned by name, but the constant subtext is that his poor long-term focus and ill-advised appointments have made these essential departments less stable, and therefore the world a more dangerous place. At least so far, it seems that very few of the catastrophes Lewis warns about have come to pass; I’m not sure if we should consider ourselves proud or merely lucky.