In many ways this book bears many similarities to The Banksters by David Murphy and Martina Devlin covering much of the same time period and events. It discusses the crisis currently facing Ireland paying particular attention to the personalities, relationships, political and economic culture, and power relations at the centre of the current storm.  It begins particularly effectively with a prologue highlighting in a very simple way the unhealthy relationship between regulators and bankers, a theme that dominates the book. While other writers have laid the cause of the crisis firmly at the feet of certain individuals, this book differs in that it highlights the systemic failures of the banking system, regulation, politicians and civil service or the ‘mandarins’ as Ross refers to them. In fact, it is the scathing nature with which this latter group are dealt with that particularly distinguishes this book from the Murphy and Devlin text.

The Bankers is an exceptionally well-written and well-researched book and is an absolute pleasure to read. There is a sense that this text was a long time in the making; it is carefully crafted, questioning, provokes thought and pulls no punches. Rather than merely reporting fact, Ross goes behind the scenes and the level of minute detail that he brings to the story is remarkable. It is clear that the author received exceptional levels of cooperation from a range of insiders and it is little wonder that many of them wished to remain anonymous given the information that was provided. The collusion between a range of state agents and the private sector to maintain a system that worked in the interests of those in power (be it political or economic) is breathtaking. Worryingly, one is left with the feeling at the conclusion of the book that not much has changed. While new institutions, such as NAMA are currently being established, the culture that permitted the crisis to develop does not seem to have fundamentally changed.

This book is well worth a read. If one is looking for a basic synopsis of the facts of what has happened in Ireland since the beginning of the international banking crisis, then IDavid Murphy and Martina Devlin’s The Banksters is a basic starting point. However, if one wishes to read a more in depth and nuanced account of how we got to where we are today, as well as one that focuses on the range of systemic failures beyond just the banking sector, then The Bankers is a must-read.

Niamh Moore

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