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The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath

This book can be downloaded and read in Apple Books on your Mac or iOS device.


A New York Times Bestseller

“A fascinating account of the effort to save the world from another [Great Depression]. . . . Humanity should be grateful.”—Financial Times

In 2006, Ben S. Bernanke was appointed chair of the Federal Reserve, the unexpected apex of a personal journey from small-town South Carolina to prestigious academic appointments and finally public service in Washington’s halls of power.

There would be no time to celebrate.

The bursting of a housing bubble in 2007 exposed the hidden vulnerabilities of the global financial system, bringing it to the brink of meltdown. From the implosion of the investment bank Bear Stearns to the unprecedented bailout of insurance giant AIG, efforts to arrest the financial contagion consumed Bernanke and his team at the Fed. Around the clock, they fought the crisis with every tool at their disposal to keep the United States and world economies afloat.

Working with two U.S. presidents, and under fire from a fractious Congress and a public incensed by behavior on Wall Street, the Fed—alongside colleagues in the Treasury Department—successfully stabilized a teetering financial system. With creativity and decisiveness, they prevented an economic collapse of unimaginable scale and went on to craft the unorthodox programs that would help revive the U.S. economy and become the model for other countries.

Rich with detail of the decision-making process in Washington and indelible portraits of the major players, The Courage to Act recounts and explains the worst financial crisis and economic slump in America since the Great Depression, providing an insider’s account of the policy response.

From Publishers Weekly

Nov 02, 2015 – Central bank officials don't normally star in thrillers, but this memoir of the 2008 financial collapse and the Great Recession by the former chairman of the Federal Reserve provides an exception to that rule. Economist Bernanke recounts how his research into financial panics and the Great Depression prepared him to lead the government's response to the 2007 8 subprime mortgage crisis and the ensuing collapse of banks and credit. As landmark Wall Street companies implode including Bear Stearns, Lehmann Brothers, AIG, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Bernanke and his comrades, Vice Chairman Tim Geithner and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, invent new ways to shore them up, arm-twist recalcitrant executives, and flood the economy with loans to stymie panic. The result, he writes, was "a new era of monetary policy activism" that drew intense fire from grandstanding populists. Along the way he unveils the workings of the secretive Fed, from internal wranglings over interest rates to the minute parsings of public statements for jittery markets ("Should I say that additional interest rate cuts may be necessary' or may well be necessary'?"). Written in clear, accessible prose, Bernanke's memoir demystifies central banking and high finance with admirable lucidity; it makes an indispensable guide to the 2008 upheaval and the controversial measures that quelled it. Photos.

Customer Reviews


Unbelievable read no matter what level of economic understanding you have. Bernanke's ability to depict and illustrate on all accounts truly lay out a very understandable memoir of the financial crisis of the early 2000's

Super Tome

An authoritative although sometimes dense step by step explanation about how an economic collapse worse than "The Great Depression" was avoided. Bernanke paints an in depth picture similar to Geithner's "Stress Test" although more thorough and enlightening. We were lucky to have people in place who had studied financial crises and had the confidence to take strong action without first trying all the alternatives that would not have worked. The book should be required background for leaders from all perspectives who aspire to sustain US prosperity and economic strength.


Poor sample indeed. To claim at restoring this country to a sound economy and being an example to follow? Wow. Successfully adding another floor to the house of cards is worth nothing more than an attaboy...on a personal level anyway. Still a calamity on our hands

The Courage to Act: A Memoir of a Crisis and Its Aftermath
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  • $15.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Economics
  • Published: Oct 05, 2015
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
  • Seller: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Print Length: 448 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: This book can only be viewed on an iOS device with Apple Books on iOS 12 or later, iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

Customer Ratings