#3 Fool's Gold by Gillian Tett
Very good. As someone said in the WAYR threak, it is the best book explaining how the crisis came about. The one thing I took away is that it wasn't a shock that the entire game would collapse. It is that the market was able to sustain the game for as long as it did.
#4, 5, A Man in Full/The Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolfe
I'm a big fan of Tom Wolfe. I'm an even bigger fan of stories involving my hometown. So it is no surprise that I enjoyed A Man in Full. While after a while it became apparent Wolfe wasn't trying to create realistic characters and that he was creating a farce, there were several character traits that just left the book feeling hollow. Perhaps first and foremost is that Charlie Croker's accent WAS NOT a Georgian accent. It was more of an aristocratic Virginian accent with some back country drawl not found in Georgia. That would make sense though as Wolfe was born in VA. Second, Croker was disappointed that his son had not taken up hunting like his father. The problem is, in the South, if your daddy is a hunter with a plantation, you are too. It is highly unlikely that the progeny doesn't follow the father in that regard. Third, there is no lingering racism in Atlanta (and probably most of Georgia) that white folks just casually drop in conversation, which was a major problem in Wolfe's characters. For as much research as Wolfe dedicates to his books, there were a few major disappointments. The black mayor kept referring to "get out the vote money". While there is GOTV money, it is "walking around money". Also he mentions the use of shotguns to shoot quail. Yeah, you can do that but rifles would likely be what Croker used. Anyway, not sure why I got so hung up on those points.
His description of city politics was absolutely spot on however and it is amazing how 12 years after the book was published, we still have the same style of arguments. City life has also changed very little. There has been a rise in the African American upper and middle class that was probably unforeseeable but even then, Atlanta now looks and feels just like Atlanta of almost a decade and a half ago (when Wolfe began his research for the book). That is not a bad thing. I just can't wait for the follow up, whenever that may come out.
Now, Bonfire of the Vanities... It became clear in AMIF that Wolfe uses pretty much the same characters and same techniques in his books. TBOTV proved that. In the past week when I finished the books, I've read "solar plexus" more times than I have in my entire life, and probably more than a med student does in an entire year. The omnipotent narrator uses profanity in a gratuitous and unnecessary way, and the crude descriptions of lustful thoughts and then no mention of sex at all except allusions to what may have happened, and the way Wolfe hides who he is really talking about with a wink-wink so that you can figure out exactly who or what he is referring too (Omega Zeta Zeta is not Omega Psi Phi, the fraternity of Bill Campbell who was mayor at the time of writing AMIF [the mayor, also, interestingly enough, blends EVERY QUALITY of Campbell and Andrew Young; Pierce % Pierce is not J.P. Morgan, Croker sounds a lot like John Hunsinger although I don't think JH was a "sixty minute man", etc.).
Perhaps if I hadn't read Bonfire so quickly after AMIF I might have appreciated it more. But being able to predict exactly when the lead character (an egotistical "Master of the Universe", not unlike an egotistical multi-millionaire real estate developer) would begin to have his existential doubts and have a dramatic change of heart after developing a sever case of insomnia as his woes continue to mount becomes boring. As a result,I found myself skipping ahead and not losing any sense of plot or character development.