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October 2, 2011 | by  | in Arts Books | [ssba]

Confidence Men by Ron Suskind

The vast majority of political non-fiction tends to fall into one of two extremes – staid, utterly dry analysis that excites only the most ardent POLS student, and speculative, populist rubbish that spins the smallest of facts into hype-able bait for the news cycle. This week sees the release of Confidence Men, the latest book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ron Suskind which promises to “offer a new account of the financial crisis and its aftermath”, and just might manage to hit the sweet spot of readability and credibility.
Confidence Men has generated a huge amount of hype in the U.S. for its focus on the inner machinations of the Obama Administration, and in particular for painting a less than flattering picture of the President’s relationship with his team of economic advisers. Suskind was given extensive access to White House officials, including an interview with Obama himself, and the book has been pitched as very much “an insider’s account”.

There’s no doubt Suskind has a credible reputation; he won a Pulitzer Prize for his work with the Wall Street Journal in 1995, and has previously published several best-selling and critically acclaimed books on the George W. Bush Administration. His integrity is not without blemish, however, and Confidence Men has ignited debate as to the veracity of many of Suskind’s claims. There have been allegations of misquoting, exaggeration, and a plethora of factual errors. The White House has outright denied much of the book, saying it bears no relation to reality.

Despite the uncertainty as to some of his claims, Confidence Men is based on extensive research and over 700 hours of interviews and Suskind has been widely praised for his egregious and eminently readable prose. For those with even a minor interest in the inner workings of the Obama administration, Confidence Men looks a must-read.


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