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It Could Happen Here: America on the Brink Hardcover – Bargain Price, October 6, 2009

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1 edition (October 6, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061689106
  • ASIN: B003GAN45E
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,901,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“[Judson’s] book will excite argument and discussion, serving as an excellent springboard for considering these important, timely issues.” (Booklist )

“The middle class is scared and it should be. In effect, we are conducting an enormous social and political experiment—something like putting a pressure cooker on the stove over a full flame and waiting to see how long it takes to explode.” (Lester C. Thurow, author of THE FUTURE OF CAPITALISM and THE ZERO-SUM SOCIETY )

“Bruce Judson’s It Could Happen Here highlights a crucial issue for the future of our nation: How unequal can America get before we snap?” (Robert Reich, author of SUPERCAPITALISM and Fmr. Secretary of Labor )

“It Could Happen Here arrives at a critical time, as we face economic inequality that could threaten the vitality of our middle class. Judson’s provocative thesis will cause you think about the risks for a nation divided between have’s and have not’s.” (Walter Isaacson, author of EINSTEIN and BENJAMIN FRANKLIN )

From the Back Cover

The severe economic downturn has been blamed on many things: deregulation, derivatives, greedy borrowers, negligent lenders. But could there be a deeper problem that is so severe, so long-lasting, and so dangerous that it makes these problems look like minor swerves in the road? Could we be facing an existential challenge to the promise of America, and to our system of government?

Inequality in America has reached historical highs. Throughout human history, this level of disparity has proven intolerable, almost always leading to political upheaval. Though many believe that America will never face a second revolution, that our politics are stable, in It Could Happen Here, Yale School of Management senior faculty fellow Bruce Judson makes the case that revolution is a real possibility here, driven by a thirty-year, unprecedented rise of inequality through six presidencies, three Fed chairmen, three recessions, and many years of expansion.

The last time inequality rivaled current levels was in 1928, just before the Crash and the Great Depression. Today we are in worse shape, divided into a tiny plutocracy of super-rich, on the one hand, and a fragile, indebted, unprotected "former middle class" on the other. As Judson shows, revolutions can occur suddenly, as happened with the Soviet Union's 1991 dissolution, and America today exhibits the central precursors to a collapse—extreme economic inequality and an increasingly impoverished middle class. He makes the most disturbing case yet for why our economics are leading us inevitably toward a devastating crisis.When Franklin Roosevelt faced a similar situa-tion, he was saved by World War II. This time, the conflict may be at home, not abroad.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

More About the Author

Bruce Judson is a Senior Faculty Fellow at the Yale School of Management and a New deal 2.0 Blog Braintruster (a project of the Franklin and Eleanore Roosevelt Institute), and the author of the new book, "It Could Happen Here: America on the Brink," which was recently released by HarperCollins.

Judson is a bestselling author, a successful entrepreneur, and one of the nation's leading experts on how technology has transformed the workplace.
His interest in economic inequality, and intense study of its implications, arose from his experience in seeing how the benefits of the technological revolution were being divided within the nation.

Judson holds a JD from the Yale Law School and an MBA from the Yale School of Management. He was the Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the "Yale Journal on Regulation" and a Senior Editor of the "Yale Law Journal."

Judson's books have been selected by multiple entities in the "short lists" of the best business books published in the year of their release, and his previous book, Go It Alone!, is believed to be the only non SBA book ever recommended on the learning home page of the Small Business Administration's Web site.

Judson is frequently quoted in the national media,such as "The New York Times," "The Wall Street Journal," and "USA Today." His earlier work on entrepreneurship, and empowering individuals, was the subject of a special profile in "The Wall Street Journal"

Most people develop a point of view and then start to make noise. In writing "It Could Happen Here" Judson took an alternative approach: He spent years researching and writing the book "so that I would have a clear, meaningful perspective" he says. "If you get distracted by writing in response to each new event, you can lose the ability to focus on establishing a deeper understanding of what's happening in the nation, which was my overall goal" he says.

Now that the book is complete, Judson is participating in the important public debate surrounding these issues and has rapidly emerged as a recognized, unique perspective, that places what is happening in our nation today in the context of the nation's longer history. Posts at his blog, www.ItCouldHappenHere, are now regularly syndicated as featured articles on the "Huffington Post," on "The Business Insider", at the New Deal 2.0 Blog, and have been frequently referenced in "Economist's View."

At his blog, Judson describes why he wrote it "It Could Happen Here" and the purpose of his ongoing writing. He wrote:

"Income inequality is at the highest recorded levels in the history of the nation. Despite almost universal predictions that the Gap would decrease in 2008, as a result of the Great Recession, the latest data suggest that it increase. This is scaring and frightening: The nation is now in a self-perpetuating cycle which, as demonstrated by recent experience and history, will continue unless substantial, inevitably controversial reforms are undertaken.

To date, there appears to be no appetite for the kind of wide-ranging reforms that would be necessary to reverse our spiral toward a nation sharply divided between a privileged few and an underclass that struggles from day to day and lacks basic economic security.

America has never been a nation of have's and have not's. One of the great strengths of the nation has always been the self-correcting nature of or democracy. But, our most eminent political theorists have pointed out that there could easily come a time when the political power of the wealthy, who will inevitably fight to protect their prerogatives, may overwhelm our ability to self-correct. There is reason to believe we are rapidly approaching that point.

"It Could Happen Here" was written as a wake-up call. The book explores the dangers of our evolving society, and the impact of a collapsing middle class, combined with the growing distance between rich and poor, on our nation: the health of our economy, our democracy, our social fabric, and even our long-term political stability.

This blog is my ongoing effort to indicate how the issues in today's headlines relate to the central challenge economic inequality poses for America."

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
Glens True Story Blog: The lie that is Capitalism

I think it's important to establish first that I am a Conservative Christian Republican although some of my views here are contrary to my party's ideology. I do although support true capitalism, but true capitalism in America does not exist and we need to take drastic measures to realign the country with the dream our founding fathers had.

I grew up with a great respect for free markets and this notion of Laissez-Faire economics. I was a product of Corporate America and truly believed that we are the America we are because of these principles. Oh how sadly I have been misled. First lets address the context to which Adam Smith described "the invisible hand" and Laissez-Faire Economics. If you do not know the term Laissez-Faire its literal translation is "let the business alone," a philosophy that free markets will always regulate themselves. While this is a brilliant concept it has been grossly distorted through the eyes of Corporate America. Regan's trickle down economics started a landslide of Corporate Power and I would have to argue that Corporate America has become a Monarch, reigning over all the power and all the money, making it harder and harder for middle class Americans to voice their hopes and dreams.

When Smith coined this concept it was in direct relationship to local business, that a localized community would regulate supply and demand. Unfortunately it has been the catalyst of income concentration to a minute percentage of the US population, and many middle class Americans do not understand the concepts they so rigidly fight to uphold, myself formally one of them. Bruce Judson does a phenomenal job at walking you through history in his book titled "It can happen here, America on the Brink.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Sam Pizzigati on October 20, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Last week's headlines about Wall Street's latest bonus windfalls once again raise a question most basic: How much greed at the top before America says enough? How much more before some Americans, incensed by the contrast between that greed and their daily struggle to get by, take matters -- rashly -- into their own hands?

Might we see, someday soon, unemployed nuclear engineers threatening America with radioactive dirty bombs? Might we experience a home-grown "terrorist act" that ends up collapsing the United States we we know it?

Bruce Judson thinks we might -- and we would be wise to listen to his warning.

"History teaches that there are limits to the extent of acceptable economic inequality in any society," this senior faculty fellow at Yale University's business school writes in his chilling new book, It Could Happen Here. "We have moved beyond these limits."

Judson's slim new volume imagines what might happen if a small group of Americans - infuriated by the demise of the American dream -- decided "to use extreme and abhorrent methods to voice its rage." This gripping and plausible foray into futuristic fiction then segues into a well-argued, totally nonfiction brief against present-day America's extreme -- and growing -- inequality.

The brief reads well. A lawyer by training and an entrepreneur by career, Judson knows first-hand how big money gets made in America today. The super rich do not awe him. But their impact does scare him.

America's intense concentration of wealth and income over the last three decades, Judson explains, has undermined our middle class economic security. Some eight to ten million families, he notes, now face foreclosure.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By C. P. Anderson on January 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Judson tries to do three things in this book:

- Show how unequal the US has become economically
- Show how things got that way
- Show how this will all result in civil unrest, even revolution

For the first two, he's right on the money. In fact, I've never seen anyone make such well-reasoned and well-delivered arguments along these lines, especially in so short a space. As for inequality, he cites damning evidence such as:

- The top 1% of US households receive 23% of the income. This compares to 30 years ago, when it was 10%, and is comparable to the time right before the Great Depression, when it was 24%.
- Median real income increased only 13% in the last 30 years. For the top 0.1%, however, it increased 235%.
- The wealth of the top 1% of households is greater than that of the bottom 90%.
- Economic mobility is less in the US than in any other OECD country.
- The average CEO makes 270 times what the average non-managerial worker in their company makes. 30 years ago, it was just 40.

As for causes, Judson points mainly to the Reagan Revolution, which was really just a reinstitution of 19th Century laissez-faire economics. He actually touches on a number of factors, though, and is able to tie them together in a very nice way.

When it comes to the revolution in the making, however, the book really falls down. Most of his arguments aren't supported nearly as well. There's very little data and lots of stringing together of suppositions. He also resorts to quoting authorities (including Aristotle and Lou Dobbs). Finally, the connections he makes to previous American crises (basically, the Revolution, Civil War, and Great Depression) and a handful of other revolutions elsewhere are all rather tenuous.
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