Sorkin makes it pretty clear that he thinks his topic amounted to a near fatal crisis of the financial system brought on by bankers competitively piling risk on top of risk while regulators might as well have been napping. But evaluating is much less important to Sorkin than telling a story -- this reads like a thriller: will the next meeting or the next call lead to bankruptcy or salvation? On this level it certainly works.
But like all "first draft of history" books (think Bob Woodward as an exemplar), it also leaves the reader wondering: did he really have sources for all these details and direct quotations? Sorkin says yes.
Must we believe that at one point in the rapidly unfolding mess, Fuld of Lehman really did say "I feel like I'm playing Whack-a-Mole"? Or that as Geithner attempted to getting failing investment companies to merge, his aides began referring to him as "E-Harmony"? I guess we must. What world that is!
As I have from all these books presenting amusing, gossipy accounts of the 2008 financial crisis, I come away from Sorkin's effort feeling that we haven't got to the basic question. Can a country's economy long be so dominated by a casino-like financial sector without eventually being eclipsed by others that are producing good and services that have value for ordinary human life? The BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) are going to put the United States to that test. I am not sanguine about the outcome.
* Sorkin in an interview with Charlie Rose.