Oh my God This book is such a phenomenal and spell binding eye opener Some non fiction books I read, I just want the author to furnish validation to opinions I already hold This book, on the other hand, reveals so many things I had no idea about, in an extremely entertaining fashion The chapter on Ayn Rand, and Alan Greenspan s membership in her circle, is worth the price of admission all by itself Maybe it helps that I forced myself to finish Rand s Atlas Shrugged a hundred years ago it wasn t horrid, it did have a message, but talk about NOT saying what you have to say and then sitting down Anyway, that chapter is titled The Biggest Asshole in the Universe referring to Greenspan So, if you find yourself in a bookstore, whet your appetite with this one While we re busy being distracted with whether American born children of immigrants should have reduced citizenship, and other distractions du jour, the country is being swindled SWFs sovereign wealth funds, largely oil generated mega pools of wealth are buying up pieces of the infrastructure of America at laughable prices, to fill state budget holes e.g., the Chicago Skyway, all the parking meters in Chicago, are now not public property, but owned by largely foreign private individuals But SWFs are just the theme of one of the chapters Each chapter focuses on a different theme, and they ll all make you sick that our politicians are willing to go along for the right to campaign contributions We re being sold out, America. I ve read three books concerning the financial collapse The other two were by Yves Smith and Joseph Stiglitz and, while perfectly understandable and, in Stiglitz case, as a dignified and careful critique, they didn t leave me steaming like this account Matt Taibbi goes the full mile in this book and fills us in on all the facts that make up the big picture I m sorry to say that several of the events he mentioned got right by me when they were happening.Would that every issue of national interest had such a carefully researched, all embracing summary like this one I d recommend this book heartily to all as long as some profanity isn t objectionable, like frequent references to people as assholes the chief one being the man that could do no wrong for so long, Alan Greenspan.If you are an Ayn Rand fan, approach this book carefully as Rand is roasted Sarah Palin, the Tea Party, Republicans and Democrats alike get large amounts of rotten veggies all over their faces and with good reasons that are well documented.There is a concise four paragraph account of the deception that Barack Obama pulled off running on positions that he immediately reversed upon taking office Taibbi tells all about the sell out to the insurance and pharmaceutical industries in very understandable prose that you could easily and should spread around to others He never fails to place the blame by naming the individuals involved, virtually all of which have come through the mess as millionaires charged with no crime.He takes us through the history of the last 30 years to let us see how the Beast of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, played games with the American economy, offering innovations in financial products that were known to be risky, even rotten to the point that GS was betting against them and laughing about it behind the backs of the customers from which it was taking orders.The book quotes from the GS literature given to investors, the small print that nobody reads, clearly stating GS is free to do as it wishes, including taking positions buying or selling in the market in contradiction to the advice it gives clients.As Taibbi puts it, America is swirling around the drain and Goldman Sachs did everything it could to be the drain you ll get a juicy metaphor every dozen pages or so He identifies all the personalities involved with the bail out, both in and out of the government, that are Goldman Sachs alumni a tight circle that always made sure the public paid and GS ended up a winner.The AIG bailout was complex, involving credit default swaps that had nothing to back them up If you don t know what that means, you will after reading this book.Taibbi is understandably irate The complexity of the economy invites the insiders to play games while the public is left in confusion about what is going on and mistakenly assumes that those in government are properly minding the store.Griftopia is as easy to read as a book can be The pages fly by You might imagine the author lounging on your living room sofa ranting and raving as would a good friend who is concerned that you aren t paying attention to what s been happening.He s absolutely right It is exactly the same with foreign policy where all kinds of nefarious activity takes place about which, but for Wikileaks, the public would be ignorant The powerful act in a world apart and all of us pay for the consequences The considerate, the cautious, the less than obsessed with ambition do not make it to the halls of power and the ones who do are very much alike in the arrogance and connivance with which they act Deception is the rule, whether it comes from the mouth of the CEO of Goldman Sachs, or that of the Secretary of State or even the President All you and I see is the imagery they want us to see.Lincoln was right in the 19th century when he said you can t fool all the people all the time, but we are far closer to that now than we have ever been and there are many putting it to the test with all the cleverness they can muster. When I finally put this book down I thought only one thing.EVERYONE IN AMERICA SHOULD READ THIS DAMN BOOK Griftopia is about the people and institutions that are actively taking away your future The greed and gluttony of the rich and powerful has never felt so perverse If education is truly a weapon against oppression, then this book is everyone s fucking infantry rifle Buy it and load up on ammo. Here is a book that invites anger Anger and then hopelessness I read for awhile and found myself becoming so angry I needed to set it down This is an important book that will hopefully be read and draw people closer together as they recognise the true source of America s downfall. Each book by Mr Taibbi just gets better Since his days writing for The Exile which I loved , he has been slowly perfecting the balance of righteous fury, investigative journalism, and appreciation of the absurd in his writing This book gets it just about right.The premise of his last book is that political parties on the left and right, in their zeal to service their corporate masters, have abandoned the lower and middle classes, leaving them to cobble together their own view of the world using the Internet, a half remembered high school education, and whatever nonsense the media is feeding them at the moment.In this book, we learn the M.O and tricks of these corporate masters as they systematically fleece America A country this rich and this anti intellectual is just too much of a mark for what Mr Taibbi calls the Grifter class and what Kurt Andersen similarly called The Grasshopper Generation not to take to the cleaners.And America gets taken to the cleaners repeatedly The book covers the dot com bubble and the housing bubble Kind of standard stuff we ve all heard before, though very well explained I ve read a bunch of books about this But the book is only half over at this point Then we get the commodity bubble Remember when gas and food prices spiked with no corresponding decrease in supply Then we get these scary sovereign wealth funds that are buying America s infrastructure Remember when Congress wouldn t allow a Dubai company to run operations for six American ports I had to reread that part of the book Things like the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the parking meter revenue for the City of Chicago are actually for sale and being bought by non U.S companies Read the book just for this one surreal part.I feel like Mr Taibbi is at home writing about politics It beings with an interesting account of his reactions to the first time he heard Sarah Palin speak He clearly has to struggle with the financial material, but the refreshing bluntness and outsider view than makes up for it In the chapter about Goldman Sachs the famous vampire squid there is a very telling introduction that explains how the financial press circled their wagons against the original article that appeared in Rolling Stone.And there s Alan Greenspan gets a good takedown The health care bill is dissected.After reading this book I had no choice but to sink further into apathy The only other possible reaction would be to violate my Generation X roots and actually start to get interested in politics It s clearly too late for that I ll just wallow in my cynicism and helplessness And the next person who comes around talking about hope and change will get punched in the neck. If you really want to understand the 2008 financial crisis, you owe it to yourself to read this book It goes way beyond the subprime mortgage disaster and even explains why gas prices went through the roof in the summer of 2008 I remember it well, as we were looking for a fuel efficient, safe first car for our daughter, and Honda Civics were about as hard to find as the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow HINT I can almost promise the answer will surprise you.As Americans, we think we have some clue how our government works Well, we know how it s supposed to work All that By the People, For the People stuff you learned in school Yeah, we ve pretty much abandoned all that stuff Corporations are running America now The kind of corporations whose executives laugh when they talk about how they duped their own customers How does a company like that remain in business, you ask Well, when its former executives run the Dept of Treasury, the World Bank, the Canadian and Italian national banks, the New York Stock Exchange, the New York Federal Reserve Bankyou get the idea Matt Taibbi has sources up and down the ladder in local, state and national government, investment houses, hedge funds, sovereign wealth funds, you name it Most of his sources are named in the book The information they share is eye opening, to say the least By the way, sovereign wealth funds, or SWFs, are where Saudi Arabia and other oil producing nations stash their cash, and you wouldn t believe how much of the USA they own Take all of Chicago s parking meters, for example And that s just for starters I think the thing I appreciate most about this book is Taibbi s humor, for which you ll really be thankful when you start to understand what s really going on here Taking a close second to that is his ability to boil down lots of complex information into a few, readable paragraphs He ll pique your interest, so that you ll want to read and delve further into the details, but he gives you a good, broad understanding of the big picture I can t wait to read his other books The audio for this one is also extremely well done, and I can also recommend it I received a free copy at There was a lot going through my head when I was reading Taibbi s latest must read book disgust, anger, wonder, even laughter at his still incredible powers of description, but at the very end, after I d finished and had to take a minute to absorb what I d just read, what I felt most was sadness More than anything else, this is a book about a country in decline, a country that can t even recognize what its problems are, let alone try to fix them instead feverishly running through one fraudulent get rich quick scheme after another If you ve been paying attention to the news at all for the last few years, you know that the American economy is not exactly in peak health This is what happens when both the financial sector and government officials decide that the country is profitable to loot than to invest in, and use their time to convert money from America s decaying physical assets into NoVa chalets The chapter on how state and local governments nationwide have started selling off infrastructure to shady megabank investors at fire sale prices to temporarily plug budget holes is stunning in its depiction of short term thinking, but it s not like they have any options Meanwhile, the saying that the easiest way to rob a bank is to own one is still true it s pretty clear that not only do the lucky recipients of the trillions of dollars of free bailout money not have to worry about continuing to own their banks, they don t have to worry about the robbery either since they ve paid people to make their crimes perfectly legal, and, as Tea Party cheerleaders like Rick Santelli repeatedly insist, even noble and laudable Our entire national dialogue is broken We ve become so used to open corruption and kindergarten level debates that even after the should have been seismic event of the 2008 election, the same groups of Wall Street criminals continued their business of looting the country practically undisturbed by politicians like Obama who were eager to water down even the most timid reforms in exchange for money Memories of eras like the New Deal and the Great Society have faded to the point where even suggesting that the government should maybe ask health insurance companies to be slightly less sociopathic puts you in the company of Stalin PJ O Rourke had a great line When buying and selling are controlled by legislation, the first things to be bought and sold are legislators Unfortunately, he might be right This is an excellent polemical counterpart to the nerdier Hacker Pierson book, but be warned that you won t walk away from this one feeling very good about America. The word polemic comes to mind Taibbi s Griftopia kicks off to a blistering start, and pretty much maintains that battery acid tone throughout The opening essays imply of an anti Republican stance than is actually the case by the end it s clear that Taibbi is pissed at everyone just about equally, but most on the right wing could be forgiven for not managing to make it through the author s vituperation to the bits where he starts in on Obama and the Democrats Hell, I had a hard time making it, and I m the theoretical core audience for this treatise Perhaps I m old fashioned, but I tend to think that you catch flies with honey or at least with a reasoned argument complete with citations rather than off the cuff references only to anonymous sources Griftopia is well written and full of fascinating behind the scenes looks into the financial crisis, but at its heart it s a rant the kind where the speaker is spitting whilst speaking , which hamstrings the author s ability to bring his point home. This is the 6th book I ve read about the recent financial catastrophes.Fools Gold, The End of Wall Street, The Big Short, How Markets Fail, All the Devils Are Here are all worthy books, but Griftopia tops the rest with its insights and outrage Taibbi doesn t simply settle for exposition and analysis He s angry that business Wall Street, insurance industry in particular abetted by our government has robbed us blind while citizens have amused themselves with a media circus that doesn t investigate or analyze anything but rather creates endless cheap Punch Judy shows featuring mindless, clowns wearing business attire variously speaking in measured tones or spouting pointless vitriol.Taibbi is the Hunter Thompson of our time, but an improved version who does his homework and shows us where all the bodies have been buried.Watch the documentary Inside Job and then read Griftopia The Dramatic Story Behind The Most Audacious Power Grab In American History The Financial Crisis That Exploded In Isn T Past But Prologue The Stunning Rise, Fall, And Rescue Of Wall Street In The Bubble And Bailout Era Was The Coming Out Party For The Network Of Looters Who Sit At The Nexus Of American Political And Economic Power The Grifter Class Made Up Of The Largest Players In The Financial Industry And The Politicians Who Do Their Bidding Has Been Growing In Power For A Generation, Transferring Wealth Upward Through Increasingly Complex Financial Mechanisms And Political Maneuvers The Crisis Was Only One Terrifying Manifestation Of How They Ve Hijacked America S Political And Economic Life Rolling Stone SMatt Taibbi Here Unravels The Whole Fiendish Story, Digging Beyond The Headlines To Get Into The Deeper Roots And Wider Implications Of The Rise Of The Grifters He Traces The Movement S Origins To The Cult Of Ayn Rand And Her Most Influential And Possibly Weirdest Acolyte, Alan Greenspan, And Offers Fresh Reporting On The Backroom Deals That Decided The Winners And Losers In The Government Bailouts He Uncovers The Hidden Commodities Bubble That Transferred Billions Of Dollars To Wall Street While Creating Food Shortages Around The World, And He Shows How Finance Dominates Politics, From The Story Of Investment Bankers Auctioning Off America S Infrastructure To An Inside Account Of The High Stakes Battle For Health Care Reform A Battle The True Reformers Lost Finally, He Tells The Story Of Goldman Sachs, The Vampire Squid Wrapped Around The Face Of Humanity Taibbi Has Combined Deep Sources, Trailblazing Reportage, And Provocative Analysis To Create The Most Lucid, Emotionally Galvanizing, And Scathingly Funny Account Yet Written Of The Ongoing Political And Financial Crisis In America This Is Essential Reading For Anyone Who Wants To Understand The Labyrinthine Inner Workings Of Politics And Finance In This Country, And The Profound Consequences For Us All
Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Griftopia book, this is one of the most wanted Matt Taibbi author readers around the world.
- 253 pages
- Matt Taibbi
- 15 June 2017 Matt Taibbi