On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System.

In This Review

On the Brink: Inside the Race to Stop the Collapse of the Global Financial System
By Henry M. Paulson
Business Plus, 2010
496 pp. $28.99
Purchase

As the U.S. secretary of the treasury from July 2006 to January 2009, Paulson was at the center of the recent financial storm and, along with Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke, responsible for preventing it from becoming an economic catastrophe. Here he provides a fast-paced insider's account of his attempts to stay ahead of rapidly moving developments, especially during the second half of 2008. Whether these efforts succeeded or failed, they tended to be cliffhangers. The story is presented as a personal chronology of events, with occasional asides to provide the reader with background on persons, firms, agencies, and the legal limitations to action. The result is a fascinating picture of how Washington functions during a time of crisis, complicated in this case by an election campaign and a reluctance by many Republicans -- including Senator John McCain -- to cooperate with a pragmatic Republican administration.