"A team of professionals who come together to do a job, execute it seamlessly, and then just as quickly go their separate ways" is Rattner's characterization of the people who oversaw the rescue of GM and Chrysler. He also says they're akin to "soldiers in wartime," and defends both descriptions. Rattner emphasizes how this team (which involved the Treasury, White House, and Detroit) saw their work as a public service, though staggeringly complex and potentially devastating to the economy. Beginning with the Bush Administration's decision to help the industry, and ending with the automakers emerging from forced bankruptcy, former New York Times journalist Rattner adeptly conveys the depth of the challenge, the hazards and pitfalls they faced, and their ultimate success. He keeps the narrative essentially factual, with few forays into the personalities around him; he eschews gossip and is admirably fair to all involved. Most surprising is his lively tone, clear narrative, and the skill with which he skirts minutia. Rattner believes in doing a good job and admires those who share this quality; his effort is a testament to people who do their best when called upon. Photos. (Oct.)
"Obama auto czar Rattner delivers a vigorous account of the bailout of the automobile industry -- a success, though one fraught with controversy... A fine inside-baseball account of how things can get done when people agree to get them done, even in Washington." --Kirkus Reviews
"OVERHAUL is filled with delicious descriptions of what happened behind the scenes in the White House and at the Treasury Department as the effort to save GM and Chrysler unfolded... a riveting read." --Wall Street Journal
"Required reading." --New York Times
"[a] compelling story about how government reacts to economic crisis...Rattner's book is an extraordinary account of how government, brandishing the stick of bankruptcy, was able in a few months to accomplish tremendous restructuring of a major American industry in ways that had eluded the private sector for half a century or more. (His material on GM's clueless management is truly priceless.)" --Slate.com
"Unquestionably the best book so far about the Obama presidency" --Slate.com
"[OVERHAUL] offers a careful, but lively, account of the auto industry bailout. Rattner takes us from the very beginning, when the Bush Administration was still in charge and two Detroit automakers were on the verge of total collapse, almost until the present day, when one of the companies (General Motors) seems to be thriving and the other (Chrysler) seems at least to be surviving." --NewRepublic.com
"While there have been other books about the Obama administration, this is the first from the inside and it is full of glimpses behind the curtain that we usually have to wait four years to see….The best parts of “Overhaul” are the vivid pictures Rattner paints of the economic team.” –Bloomberg News
“Steven Rattner shows a journalist's eye for detail….OVERHAUL is a feast of political and financial intrigue.” – Detroit Free Press
"With lively reconstructions of meetings in the Oval Office, Rattner shows the struggle over whether government should intervene….persuasive…illuminating…After Team Auto, GM has a much cleaner balance sheet and is set for a stock market flotation before theend of the year. The government might well get its money back. So those who think Obama is bad for business should read Overhaul. But anyone who believes in the fiction of arm’s-length government investment will find some corrective facts, too." -- Financial Times
"Overhaul" is not a Washington memoir, even though it is set in Washington, and it involves one of the most deeply politicized issues in recent memory. It is a Wall Street memoir, a book about one of the biggest private-equity deals in history....unexpectedly fascinating" - Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker
"Overhaul is required reading to understand the auto industry." - Motor Trend
"[a] surprisingly modest account…Rattner has a journalistic talent for the telling detail, resulting in a memorable tale of life in the middle of the economic meltdown….Rattner deftly draws portraits of the inhabitants of "the Oval" and the West Wing….Rattner has proved himself a gifted chronicler." - Time Magazine
"[Rattner] writes lucidly and does a good job of balancing reportage and opinion. He gives us a useful record of both what the auto bailout looked like from inside the process and what the U.S. government looks like -- when it's working and when it is not. From both angles, this is a comprehensive, useful and readable look under the hood." - Knowledge@Wharton (UPenn)
Obama auto czar Rattner delivers a vigorous account of the bailout of the automobile industry—a success, though one fraught with controversy.
"For someone like myself who believes in public service," writes the author, "an assignment like Team Auto can be a dream come true—the chance to make a meaningful difference on a huge issue that requires only minimal interaction with Congress." The last part is key, for Rattner clearly has little use for many of the elected representatives with whom he had to deal, particularly those who lobbied him continually to keep auto jobs within their districts. (He knew better than to alienate them, though, listening politely while answering e-mail.) His glimpse of the inner workings of the auto bailout opens with a nod to the previous administration, during whose tenure the current economic mess began. Approached by the big automakers with a plea for a taste of the TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) billions, Henry Paulson replied, "This is complete bullshit!" Yet the political implications of letting the automakers fail were so grave that he had to cave. The program expanded under Rattner's direction to include not just dollars handed out but also structural reforms that, though difficult to effect, proved essential—allowing Chrysler, for instance, to emerge from bankruptcy with relative lightning speed. In that, the author gives credit to Obama administration economic guru Lawrence Summers, who was rightly leery of anything that resembled a takeover: "Any kind of government ownership was bad enough, but owning a majority interest was worse." Rattner writes carefully and clearly about the politicking and back-of-envelope calculating that went into the hard decisions of the bailout: Who qualifies? Does an American firm most of whose jobs are in Mexico get a piece of the action? And perhaps most important, how do we get Congress to get its act together?
A fine inside-baseball account of how things can get done when people agree to get them done, even in Washington.