From a recent “Briefly Noted” column in The New Yorker, regarding Andrew Ross Sorkin’s “Too Big to Fail”:
Sorkin, a business reporter and columnist for the Times, tells the story of how the financial crisis unfolded from the perspective of some of the giants of finance, who, seen close up, appear to be disconcertingly petty. Sorkin’s analysis is fairly perfunctory (it doesn’t go much beyond the “seeds of disaster” coming “together to create the perfect storm”), but his action scenes are intimate and engaging. Lehman’s Richard Fuld is deluded to the point of derangement; John Thain, the head of Merrill Lynch, starts talking about compensation in the middle of a save-the-country meeting; Henry Paulson, the Treasury Secretary, twice becomes physically ill. Whenever things look bad, someone suggests calling Warren Buffett, whose role in the book is a bit like that of Charlie, at the other end of the Angels’ speakerphone. Again and again, Buffett politely defers, until, finally, as he heads to a Dairy Queen with his grandchildren, he agrees to give Goldman Sachs five billion dollars.