on April 28, 2010
I read the walk about 2 weeks ago, I really enjoyed the story and the characters, however, there were a few things that I found irritating. First there is so much blank space in the book. You read 2, 3, 4 pages and then there are 2 blank pages, which if you cut that out, the book would be about half the size. It was simply for page fillers and a little misleading. I also think he left out a lot and focused too much on what the main character had to eat. I feel like this book is somewhat of a cash cow, and that greed may be the reason for the 5 part series. In all honesty he SHOULD have just put all 5 books in 1. I am really curious for the next one...but am I going to remember it a YEAR from now? Possibly not. It is definately not worth $22 as it's a very short simple story. I also feel it may be a slight rip off of Paulo Coelho's "The Alchemist" which is amazing.
Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich (Clinton Administration) contends that the recent 'Great Recession' was an outgrowth of an increasingly distorted distribution of income in which the richest 1% garnered 23.5% of all income in 2007 - the highest imbalance since 1928, and nearly 3X the 9% share of 1975. "Aftershock" does a good job covering how incomes have stagnated, families have adjusted, and why China is extremely unlikely to help the U.S. reduce its trade deficit. Reich believes that if only we had met this downturn with strengthening safety nets, empowering unions, bolstering education and job training, our current situation would be much better. Unfortunately, the logic supporting his diagnosis and recommendations is blinded by political ideology and would never pass a test for simplicity.
Reich says automation and outsourcing flattened average hourly compensation starting in 1977. In 2007 the median inflation-adjusted male wage was less than it was 30 years earlier; middle-class family incomes were only slightly better - undoubtedly because of greater workforce participation by mothers with young children (20% in 1966, 60% in the late 1990s) and greater work hours (up 500 hours/year increase for the average family from 1979 to the 2000s). Middle-incomers also coped by reducing savings (from 9% in the Nixon years to 2.6% in 2008), and increased borrowing (average household debt rose form 50-55% to 128% of after-tax income during the same period. However, Reich does not mention that much more outsourcing is likely - a number of economists predict that absent change, outsourcing will dramatically expand into our service sector and further undermine our economy.
Reich believes that high levels of inequality harm the economy because the very rich cannot possibly spend all that money. However, Reich offers no counter in "Aftershock" to those who contend that stock market and other investments by those with high incomes are essential to spurring innovation and expansion in the economy.
Reich's recommendations include: 1)Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) program ($15,000 given households earning $25,000) and reducing taxes for most lower-income individuals, 2)Implementing a carbon tax to reduce global warming and fund investment in reduced emissions, 3)Increased taxes on the wealthy, 4)Wage insurance to temporarily maintain income at 90% of former income after a job loss, 5)School vouchers available to all, priced proportionately to income, 6)College loans with payback linked to a student's future income, 7)Taking money out of politics, 8)Medicare-type health care for all (30% administrative overhead for private insurance vs. 2% for Medicare and 11% for Medicare Advantage plans), and 9)Massive public-spending on infrastructure. Reich does not recommend trade measures against China (eg. a 40% tariff to offset its alleged currency manipulation) because of concern that China would retaliate by ceasing to buy massive amounts of increasing American debt, thereby throwing our economy into turmoil.
Unfortunately, some of Reich's recommendations, statements, and omissions strain credulity. 'Empowering unions,' for example - despite their history of bringing constant turmoil to industry in the 1960s, bankrupting G.M., Chrysler, the legacy airlines, and others, threatening to do the same for innumerable cities and school districts today, and creating much of the original impetus for outsourcing. 'More education' - despite our having already wasted trillions by tripling inflation-adjusted per-pupil spending since the 1970s, for very little or no improvement - those monies would be better used to build successful international firms (per Laura Tyson). Reich's ignoring the negative impact on employment and wage/benefit earnings of American citizens from tens of millions of illegal aliens, while likely political, is inexcusable. Increasing public spending on infrastructure would also boost deficits and the need for China and others to fund them. As for expanding the EITC and unemployment insurance, that would create never-ending pressure for future increases and extensions, acerbate inflation, increase deficits, and undermine self-initiative for millions.
Conversely, a carbon tax would be a very good thing for the environment - however, its impact on the economy is probably much less than Mr. Reich envisions. Thanks to decades of our increasing manufacturing outsourcing (including high technology) and lack of industrial policies that help nascent industries quickly achieve scale and learning-curve economies, Japan, South Korea, and especially China are already close to or far ahead of us in areas such as nuclear reactor manufacturing experience and capability (we're now building the first since 1977, they're currently adding at least 30), high-speed and high-altitude rail operation (thousands of miles, vs. none in the U.S.) and manufacturing, maglev operation, solar PV and wind-power production, and planned 2011 hybrid and all-electric vehicle production about 6X that of the U.S. Another problem - much of our R&D has already moved to Asia.
Finally, Reich also fails, again probably for ideological reasons, to recognize the need for reducing overheads and deficit contributors that impede our international competitiveness and generate the need for foreign funding of our deficits. The most important is the need to restructure American health care (17.3% of GDP) to to levels comparable to our competitors - 6+% of GDP in Taiwan, 4% in China. This would save $1.6 - 1.9 trillion/year, as well as reduce unfunded health care liabilities (mostly Medicare) by about $35 trillion. Similarly we could cut defense + Homeland Security at least 50% to reach economically competitive levels and save about $500 billion/year, and directly force K-12 and colleges to reduce costs by about 50% (another $500 billion/year) as requisites for participation in student loan programs and other assistance programs.
Bottom-Line: A number of Reich's recommendations would be very beneficial and should be implemented ASAP - eg. converting to Medicare-type health care for all (save about $200 billion/year), taking money out of politics, making college loans contingent on students' future income, increased taxes on the wealthy, implementing a carbon tax, and increased support for R&D involving green energy. Increased spending on infrastructure should also be implemented as soon as we eliminate budget deficits. Eliminating those deficits would best be addressed by reducing health care, defense, and education spending to prior inflation-adjusted levels that more closely match those of our Asian competitors. Cutting just $1.5 trillion/year in spending could eliminate the need for China's funding our deficit, mitigate Reich's concern over directly confronting our trade deficit/offshoring job losses, and help restore the American Dream.
on July 1, 2012
I listened to this book on audio and what someone once told me is true--never listen to a book read by the author, you need a professional reader. The author's speech was garbled and sounded like he had a mouthful of marbles.
The first half of the book was how he came to be on the walk in the first place, not too bad. I was getting anxious with him to get on with it already. Once he actually started walking, the last half of the book was a week's worth of walking where he described the food he ate in great detail. I thought he would have some major encounters that would be life changing but no, never really happened. The few encounters he had were really rather stupid.
I didn't realize this is a series book and apparently his walk continutes. Not sure if I will pursue any more volumes. I would not spend money on this book or the series. I got mine from the library. It did help pass the time as I was driving, but even so, I was sick of hearing the detailed descriptions of milkshakes, pancakes and burgers.
on July 22, 2013
The story was so captivating that I wanted to give this book five stars. I was unable to do so because: 1). Walking downhill is not "easier" but harder to do than walking uphill, 2). Wet wood is very hard to light and requires kindling,and 3). The tenses disagreed. All of these errors make me wonder if the conceptual editor was paying attention. I DID LOVE IT when the hero is thinking about taking his life and hears God say, "Life is not yours to take." As a writer/reader of faith stories, I felt this was a book I would recommend to many and still will once the issues, which I assume are more numeral than I noticed, are corrected.
Always writing about choices and how God can help us change, Paula Rose Michelson wrote the Amazon Best Selling Christian self-help book "How Did We Become Angry?" That book and her three sweet Christian fictions with a Messianic twist and a hint of history: "Beginning Anew: The Naomi Chronicles" and "Casa de Naomi: The House of Blessing, Books One and Two", are available on Amazon.
on October 15, 2011
Okay, before I start complaining, let me say that I really enjoyed this little book. I love stories about people journeying somewhere, especially if they walk. I love King's Dark Tower series because for a lot of it, the group walks rather than drives or travels by time or by hanging onto some giant crazy eagle. But anyway, this was especially interesting because the main character wants to walk across present-day America instead of through some land only known to the author. I loved the story, was a little thrown off by the abrupt end of it, and can't wait to continue the journey.
All right, my major complaint: why the fudge is this published by itself? This book is tiny. Yes, it is 304 pages in print but check out the font size and everything else that expands a book. The word count is less than 50,000 words. I am guessing that the future installments of the book will be similar in length. I am reminded of an author like Stephen King who, on more than one occasion, chose to release four complete books in one volume instead of selling them all separately. Also, Robert R. McCammon's Swan Song, King's IT and The Stand, and other massive books could have easily been made into a series of smaller novels to make more money. This book, The Walk by Richard Paul Evans, is tiny and I find it rather insulting and lazy of the author, or the publisher, to put this little thing out there for us to read. Complete the story! If your first book is tiny, it doesn't need to be a series of books when other authors publish 1,000 page novels that are a complete story. This really agrivates me because I see no point in it. It is just laziness to me and I am all the more agrivated because I enjoyed it and don't want to wait to finish which is what the "cuss"ing publishers want, of course! Write your book, finish it, and publish it like a good author. Or, figure out that your story is going to be the length of an epic fantasy and at least put out a complete novel to start the series. We aren't little kids. This was on the New York Times list for adult. I don't mind when children's authors do this but adult authors need to be adults themselves and not put out a bit of a story if it isn't that long of a story to begin with.
So anyway, check out The Walk and look for the completed version in the future. I bet when the are combined (with true blue word count rather than page count) they will be less than 400,000 words. IT by Stephen King was 453,010 words and he published it all together. The book is massive but it is a book, not a piece of one.
on August 5, 2014
Alan Christoffersen had it all, a beautiful home, a fabulous career and his soul mate as his wife. His life couldn’t have been better, but sadly it slowly disappeared after that fateful day when his wife fell off her horse. When his life becomes virtually extinct, Alan decides to end it all, but he is reminded of the promise he made to his wife. Since he has nothing left, he decides to go for a walk, but not just any kind of walk, one that will get him as far away as possible. With just a few supplies and his hiking boots, he sets off from the outskirts of Seattle, Washington towards Key West, Florida, in hopes of finding life again.
From the very first page, Evans delivers a powerful and poetic tale. Through the first person narrative, the author proves that true human character is revealed during critical times. The quotes from Alan’s diary that start each chapter, give a preview as to what is to come. Readers will be able to relate to Alan’s desire to walk away from everything and thanks to the use of descriptive words, they will feel as though they are walking and eating right next to him. Despite the fact that the book starts with Alan in Key West, he is still in the state of Washington throughout this whole novel. The Walk is a dramatic start to a promising series that will compel readers to follow Alan’s journey.
This review was written for My Sister's Books.
This review was originally posted on the Ariesgrl Book Reviews website.