Magazine September 7, 2009, Issue

Bernanke’s War

Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke testifies before a Senate Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., July 22, 2009. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)
In Fed We Trust: Ben Bernanke’s War on the Great Panic: How the Federal Reserve Became the Fourth Branch of Government, by David Wessel (Crown, 323 pp., $26.99)

David Wessel’s new volume on the Federal Reserve’s response to the financial crisis is the sort of book that Bob Woodward usually writes about U.S. presidents: a character-driven, sometimes novelistic, You Are There account of highly driven, high-performing, high-testosterone men who stay up late eating ham sandwiches during world-shaking crises. It analyzes the choices they made and the creeds that led them to those choices.

At the heart of this story are the “Four Musketeers,” Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke and his three-man brain trust: Kevin Warsh, the wunderkind investment banker who was the youngest Fed governor in history; Treasury veteran

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