From Publishers Weekly
Hodgson sets out to say some things outside "the two ruling narratives of American history over the past three decades: the liberal recessional or conservative triumphalism." Above all, he observes, "Great and growing inequality has been the most salient social fact about the America of the conservative ascendancy. It is hard not to ask whether that was not one of the conservatives' strategic goals." Yet inequality is mentioned more than discussed, while conservative mechanisms that may increase it are barely even mentioned until 100 pages later. Despite occasional flashes of insight, Hodgson, biographer of Daniel Patrick Moynihan and a scholar at the Rothermere American Institute at Oxford University, repeatedly muddles matters with generous dollops from those ruling narrativesâ"such as the Democratic Leadership Council's analysis of what ailed the Democrats in the 1980sâ"regurgitated as gospel. Similarly, he attributes white backlash to "the noisy claims of radical black leadership" in his chapter on race, while his chapter on women blames articulate feminists not so much for antagonizing men and conservative women but for letting their middle-class "cultural" movement get in the way of a second, "primarily economic" women's movement, "silent and largely the sum of private decisions." He rightly notes that the Internet boom was built on decades of government-funded, university-nurtured research, then says, "[T]he legendary entrepreneurs deserve every bit of their fame and fortune." Hodgson inadvertently demonstrates what he seeks to explain: how inequality can grow so sharply, yet be marginalized in political discourse.
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"In More Equal Than Others
, an up-to-the-minute critique of modern American life, the British historian Godfrey Hodgson combines intelligent discussions of pressures that have shaped American society during the last quarter-century . . . With a factoid-packed jeremiad against the triumph of the suburb--the demographic zone where half the population now lives, where two-thirds of new jobs are located, whose voting strength overawes Congress. . . . Although Hodgson writes as a liberal, he levels [his] charges across party lines."--Allen D. Boyer, New York Times Book Review
"[A] wonderfully written, wide-ranging and profoundly depressing book. Hodgson's theme is that the US has changed for the worse in the past 25 years: inequality is supplanting equality, even equality of opportunity."--Kathleen Burk, Financial Times
"[Hodgson] sees a country which the postwar liberal consensus has indeed moved right, turning free-market capitalism from an economic theory into a cultural template. The result is an America in which financial segregation increasingly preserves opportunity for a wealthy elite. . . . [He] argues convincingly that American society has come to resemble old-fashioned Europe, with its strictly class-structured elites."--Michael Carlson, The Spectator
"The most thoughtful, thorough and sorrowful book imaginable on what has happened in these years."--Bernard Crick, The Independent
"Godfrey Hodgson . . . delivers a relentless indictment of an American grown . . . far too sure of itself. In More Equal Than Others
, he argues that a wave of right-wing triumphalism has overtaken the country since the Soviet Union's death from exhaustion. In its train, it has brought us a sanctification of the unfettered market, an intensification of Americans' long-standing contempt for government, and--most appallingly--a complacent acceptance of unprecedented inequalities in wealth, education, and opportunity."--Matthew A. Crenson, Political Science Quarterly