I finally finished reading Too Big To Fail, and I'd probably give it an 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 (it doesn't come close to James Stewart's Den of Thieves, about the Boesky-Millken scandal). Sorkin's challenge in writing TBTF, I think, was that there was a cast of about 100 different characters, whereas Den of Thieves really just focused on a few.
From some of the really big characters in the book, I got the following impressions:
- Henry Paulson – I came away thinking his motives were actually pretty much in the right place. He had already made a gigantic fortune, and he was really trying to save a system he thought had core value. Also – – he throws up a lot (the stress really got to him).
- Tim Geithner – Seems to be all business. I'm not sure if this guy has ever cracked a smile in his life. A firm negotiator throughout.
- Ben Bernanke – It's surprising what a minor role Ben has in this book; by and large, he is seem as far more academic (yet still very respected) than the others, but Paulson uses him, some degree, as a shill.
- Llloyd Blankfein – Not surprisingly – Lloyd lloves lloot. That's all that need be said.
- Jamie Dimon – Hard-ass businessman and shrewd negotiator.
- Sheila Bair - The book tends to view her through the Paulson/Geithner lens, which characterizes her as more of a bureaucrat/poser than the other parties in the book. She's also pretty much the only woman prominently featured, with the exception of Erin Callan, the Lehman CFO, who is portrayed as kind of a MILF-y incompetent).
- Christopher "I have no lower teeth" Cox – Every bit as feeble and ineffectual as you would guess.
- Dick Fuld – Actually pretty sad. He comes off as more of a victim than a villain, and he tried desperately to save his firm. This guy is no saint, but he definitely got the very short end of the stick in September 2008. I wouldn't blame the guy for being bitter for the rest of his life.