Confidence Men:

Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

  • Read by: James Lurie
  • Runtime: 22.0 Hours
  • Recording: Unabridged
  • Release date: 9.20.2011
  • Publisher: HarperAudio
  • 22.00 hrs9/20/2011Unabridged
  • ISBN-13: 9780062095800

A New York Times Bestseller

A USA Today Bestseller

AnAmazon Best Books of the Year, 2011

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.

Editorial Reviews

“A truly groundbreaking inside account...Penetrating in its analysis of why the administration’s approach to the country’s economic ills has been so lackluster...An important addition to the growing library of books about this president.”

New York Times Book Review

“A searing new book...Suskind has a flair for taking material he’s harvested to create narratives with a novelistic sense of drama.”

New York Times

“No book about the Obama presidency appears to have unnerved the White House quite so much as Confidence Men...Ron Suskind...has developed a niche in the specialized art of parting the curtain on presidential dealings.”  

Chicago Tribune

“The White House says Suskind talked to too many disgruntled former staffers. But he seems to have talked to a lot of gruntled ones, too. The overarching portrait of chaos, lack of intellectual depth, and absence of political wisdom, from a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, rings true.” 

Wall Street Journal

“Written in sharp, cinematic scenes, in which the main players in the administration are captured in full-blooded, uncensored conversation, Confidence Men sprawls across the multiple crises of the opening two years of the Obama presidency...Suskind’s central thesis deserves to be taken seriously.” 

Financial Times

“Suskind’s account of the Obama administration is a marker of our times. It reveals a President unable to perform responsibly the duties of his high office...Suskind’s contribution to this tale of woe is to give us a fine grained picture of Obama’s passive place in deliberations.”

Huffington Post

“A detailed narrative of the [Obama] administration’s response—sometimes frantic, sometimes sluggish, sometimes both—to the financial and economic catastrophe it inherited, as experienced from the inside.”

New Yorker

“Suskind is not calling Obama a confidence man here...he presents a president who is not up to the task of outmaneuvering a political and economic system that is packed full of confidence men.”


“A[n] authoritative window on the inner workings of the administration and a useful management primer on how not to run an organization...Confidence Men is crammed with interesting detail.” 


“A narrative tour de force...Journalism like this is all too rare...And it’s even rarer that skeptical reporting is turned into something lasting.”


“Ron Suskind’s book is...the one that makes the most sense...The shudder-inducing bits of Confidence Men come when the team is too optimistic about how its policies will play out. The confidence allows them to move on too quickly.” 


“The work that went into Confidence Men cannot be denied. Suskind conducted hundreds of interviews. He spoke to almost every member of the Obama administration, including the President. He quotes memos no one else has published. He gives you scenes that no one else has managed to capture.” 

New York Review of Books

“[Confidence Men is] most interesting as a clear-eyed assessment of the passion of Obama, or what remains of it, and also as a kind of elegy for an old financial world in which there was at least a semblance of ethical standards.”

Kirkus Reviews

Author Biography

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.

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Reader Biography

James Lurie has worked for the biggest companies in the news, entertainment, and advertising businesses. He has an eclectic background; he’s been a musician, a writer, and a doctoral candidate in Chinese history. He’s even been the voice of a talking gasoline pump. As an actor he has had recurring roles on Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Law & Order, Picket Fences, and As the World Turns, to name but a few, and he won a Dramalogue Award in Los Angeles for his stage work.

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