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Who Will Tell The People? : The Betrayal Of American Democracy Paperback – June 1, 1993


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (June 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671867407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671867409
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,891,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This provocative manifesto, an eight-week PW bestseller in cloth, charges that America's political parties, unions and media organizations have abandoned the citizenry, leaving powerful moneyed elites in control of politics and government.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

An angry inquiry into the putative decline of democracy in the US. Unlike many observers, Greider (Secrets of the Temple, 1987, etc.) goes beyond the manifest deficiencies of electoral campaigns to focus on the politics of governance--and he concludes that so- called monied interests are ascendant in Washington's power centers. By the author's anecdotal account, the institutionalized intervention of these corporate advocates into administrative as well as legislative affairs costs ordinary citizens dearly--from purposefully lax enforcement of federal law and indulgent treatment of casino capitalism through an inequitable tax system. In Greider's canon, the sorry state of the union does not lack for guilty parties. He blames the ebb of democracy in America on both major political parties (which cater to affluent elites), the press (which no longer mediates between the public and its representatives), big business (as exemplified by the awesome influence wielded by General Electric Co.), and even the populace (whose activism has been limited of late to grass-roots concerns). Greider goes on to argue that the cold war's end offers the US a historic opportunity to renew its democratic principles and to apply them on a global basis. For starters, he proposes that a citizenry committed to challenging the status quo could make multinational enterprises more accountable to society at large, if need be by denying them access to the vast domestic marketplace until they measure up to populist standards of responsibility. Whether the heterogeneous American people have an agenda as explicitly progressive as Greider assumes (and embraces) will strike many as a very open question. Still, a provocative and sobering assessment of how self-government's reach can exceed its grasp. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Anyone who cares should read this.
Loves Lanikai
I first read this book in 1992, and wondered if Greider was exaggerating to make more compelling copy.
Eric H. Roth
He manages to make you feel simultaneously at a rally and in his living room.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 73 people found the following review helpful By Eric H. Roth on September 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
Written in the era of Ross Perot and Jerry Brown and focused on the Savings and Loan scandal that cost taxpayers at least $200 Billion dollars, this insightful book identifies many factors behind the growing power of transnational corporations to set the national agenda. Villains include an expanding executive branch, the collusion of both major parties with Wall Street interests, the increasing use of technical jargon in the halls of power, and a press that seems more focused on selling celebrities than examining policies.
Greider's prophetic book, written in 1992, anticipates how NAFTA, GATT, and the most favored trade status with China all passed - could be pushed through by a Democratic president (Clinton) and a Republican Congress in a bipartisan effort. Polls, by the way, showed the vast majority of Americans oppossed to all three pieces of legislation. A populist political critic, Greider suspects what is good for Wall Street might not be good for Main Street. (Of course, many people living on Main Street owe some stock too.)
I first read this book in 1992, and wondered if Greider was exaggerating to make more compelling copy. Re-reading parts today and knowing the disaster caused by NAFTA, Greider emerges as one of the few political analysts aware of the signifance of trade to Wall Street and the negative influence on corporate money on both parties.
"We're perilously close to not having a democracy," warms Greider, noting that while many elements are involved in disenfranchising the American public, none are buried secrets and all are familiar features. Campaign finance reform, of course, remains the preferred euphemism for legalized bribery used to win Congressional votes and manipulate regulatory decisions.
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40 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Christopher J. Robison on February 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
It's funny how some negative reviews of this book spoke about how wrong Greider was and how right corporate superheros like Jack Welch were. Now in 2003 as America struggles to rebuild after the savage [things] that these corporate overlords have done (Enron? Worldcom? Global Crossing?) we see just how accurate Greider's predications were. The men who rose to power in the 1990's didn't get there because they loved all humanity, they got there because they wanted power above all else. It wasn't the job or the love for their products, it was for money. If they had to fire tens of thouands of people, if they had to bankrupt the company, that was fine. THEY got to keep their millions in the form of Golden Parachutes. History has now born this simple truth out. Power doesn't neccesarilly corrupt, but absolutely corrupt people seek power at any cost.
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39 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book captures an energy too rare in political nonfiction.
Much like any notoriously liberal thinker, Greider will not appeal to everyone. However, also like most any biased thinker, he is a compelling read for both sides of the political spectrum.
One of Greider's most salient points is the lack of real alternative that we have in the current American political system. Democrats and Rebublicans are, he argues, cut from the same (corrupt) cloth. He definitely doesn't play partisan favorites, he fundamentally attacks the system of special interest politics.
Now all this sounds a bit dry, but Greider's style really is wonderful, in a way that few political writers are. He has a sort of sassy, knowing tone that is both personal and grandiose. He manages to make you feel simultaneously at a rally and in his living room. He turns political writing from broccoli into chocolate cookies, which is a welcome change.
I have used this book extensively for quoting, have taught chapters and, sometimes, the whole book as a text in an activism internship class, and have used it in volunteer circles for a conversation starter. I think its energy carries it along to some great observations about our political system.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Barron Laycock HALL OF FAME on June 24, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ah, once more into the breach, dear friends. Like Shakespeare's goode King, Rolling Stone editor and contributor William Greider is once more up in arms, and in this powerful and provocative book takes thoughtful aim against the bloodied and crippled state of the contemporary American polity. Greider convincingly details the many ways in which the democratic process has been compromised, corrupted and co-opted by the powerful economic influences of corporate America. In doing so, he focuses on the actual process of how the federal government works, and illustrates in shocking fashion with a number of specific anecdotes the degree to which the political system has been bought off by transnational corporations and the media.
The author's list of un-indicted co-conspirators is long and illustrious; transnational corporations, the electronic media, the political parties, so-called interest groups like the NRA and the Milk Lobby, and an occasional populist group, all trying to foist their narrowly focused interests into self-serving legislation and regulation against the much broader interest and liberties of the citizenry at large. The fact that they consistenly succeed to our detriment is powerful testimony as to the accuracy of this analysis. The author reserves special vile for the activities of the two political parties, who he contends are more aptly described as the power-drunk fraternal twin children of the wealthy power elite than they are a responsive and representative force out to accomplish the messy business of democratic governance.
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More About the Author

William Greider is the bestselling author of five previous books, including One World, Ready or Not (on the global economy), Who Will Tell the People (on American politics), and Secrets of the Temple (on the Federal Reserve). A reporter for forty years, he has written for The Washington Post and Rolling Stone and has been an on-air correspondent for six Frontline documentaries on PBS. Currently the national affairs correspondent for The Nation, he lives in Washington, D.C.

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Who Will Tell The People? : The Betrayal Of American Democracy
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