Top critical review
"How GM was saved from itself" or "Why I'm super wonderful" (take your pick) by Steven Rattner
on January 20, 2014
This book is a case study in extremes; extremely good and extremely annoying. On one hand it provides a fascinating look at the work done to salvage the automotive industry from the industry's own negligent management. The author deserves great credit for calling characters for what they were and I feel gratitude for his willingness to share his experience with common folk outside the Beltway. On the other hand, the early chapters were so packed with little quips about how much the big political names wanted the author to take the position ("America will be better off if you do this…") and how much money the author spent to go through the vetting process, that one should either skip the first four chapters or drink heavily before reading them. Some of my favorite self-aggrandizing statements by the author include his needlessly sharing a news outlet's estimation of his net worth and his suggestion that this experience was a great "sacrifice." Sacrifice? When the role has obviously elevated his public visibility and enhanced his capacity draw big business in the future, I doubt it. In short, it is not a sacrifice if you gain and Rattner clearly gained from having played a critical part in the automotive industry bailout. The suggestion that he has "suffered" because of this "sacrifice" is disingenuous. He stepped up. He got it right. He should stop pretending not to be the better for it.
Ultimately, Rattner got it correct and he deserves credit. His instincts about GM officers and directors, about GM and about the role the company plays in the US economy have all been proven to be correct. Subsequent to those early impressions, his decisions (and those of his team) have also proven correct. I disagree with other reviews suggesting that this book contained "cheap shots" at certain individuals. From my perspective, Rattner had the guts to call things for what they were and it is this integrity that kicked GM back to life before sitting down to provide us with a better understanding of what happened and why. For that, we are fortunate that this book exists.
Unfortunately, this book would be less annoying to read if Rattner understood that information about his net worth and his desirability among the Washington elite is of little virtue outside Wall Street and the Beltway. Perhaps the only thing Rattner needs in life is an editor endowed with a perspective greater than Wall Street and the Beltway- someone to save him from talking about his own money and "did I tell you about the time Chuck Schumer called?"
Yes. Yes Steven, you did. Several times. Now about the facts behind the bailout…