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Down the Up Escalator: How the 99 Percent Live Paperback – January 28, 2014
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In Garson’s 1977 book, All the Livelong Day, she used interviews with ordinary Americans to explore the ways the labor market and the structure of the economy itself were changing in fundamental ways. Relying again on interviews with men and women from various strata of the economy, the author now explores the effects the current recession is having on individuals, families, and the way employers and workers view their futures. There is, naturally, the sense that the days of job security and economic stability are gone forever, but what might surprise some readers is the thread of optimism that runs through the book. Many of the interviewees, even those who have been out of work for extended periods of time, have a positive outlook: their situations might be far from ideal, but they’ve found ways to keep going, to enjoy their lives. Other books about the recession might be more analytical, but this one allows readers to hear from the men and women whose lives have been directly affected. --David Pitt --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Praise for Down the Up Escalator:
“In the official estimation of government economists, the Great Recession ended in 2009. But in Barbara Garson’s new book, it lives on. And for the people whose stories she tells, the Great Recession may never die. . . . Down the Up Escalator is best read as a kind of travelogue through a beaten-down but-not-broken United States. . . . [It is] an engaging, insightful account of the changes that have swept through an America where good, hard-working people are learning to make do with less money, less opportunity and less free time. . . . A willingness to portray the complexity of Americans’ personal responses to macroeconomic disaster helps make Garson’s book a lively read, despite its grim subject matter. So many books that treat the subject of economic restructuring portray working Americans as hapless victims. Garson is too sharp an observer, and too honest a writer, to do that . . . her lucid book makes it clear that with each new crisis the American people will survive by digging deeper into their supplies of creativity, courage and humor.” —Hector Tobar, Los Angeles Times
“Barbara Garson has written a small masterpiece of wise and alarming reportage about how ordinary Americans are surviving during extraordinarily rotten times. Down the Up Escalator is a necessary antidote to all the blather about ‘freeing’ banks and investment houses from ‘crippling regulations.’” —Michael Kazin, author of American Dreamers: How the Left Changed a Nation
“Do you want to know both how and why we got into the economic mess we are in—and what it really means in the everyday life of real people? What is driving the pain deep in the bowels of the system—and how people are trying to counter it in the real world? Read this book; no one does it better and makes it readable and human to boot, than Barbara Garson.” —Gar Alperovitz, author of America Beyond Capitalism
“Most recessions come and go and leave little in their wake. People return to jobs, banks resume lending. But the Great Recession struck directly at the American dream of long-term employment and home ownership. Barbara Garson’s book is not about the collapse of firms that bet on complex derivatives, but about the human costs of the Great Recession. She recounts eloquently the bad dream from which we have still not awakened. Years from now, when historians want to know what it was really like to live during this recession, they'll find no better place to look than Garson’s book.” —John B. Judis, Senior Editor, The New Republic and Visiting Scholar, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
“Barbara Garson knows that the hard times so many people are living through are not just composed of headlines about corporate profits, unemployment rates and foreclosures; they are composed of human beings. This book is a compassionate, probing, pointillist mural of the Great Recession and of the decades-long erosion of the average American’s economic position that preceded it, all told through the experiences of individual men and women. She has followed some over time, has sought out others whose lives illuminate larger injustices, and has found people whose stories will stick with you.” —Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost
“Barbara Garson writes an honest and moving dispatch from the front lines of America’s new class war. These are the mounting casualties, betrayed by the American Dream and now struggling—largely alone—for survival and simple human dignity. Garson’s real-life stories give clues as to why the battered middle class has not yet erupted politically—and why it still might.” Jeff Faux, author of The Servant Economy and Distinguished Fellow, Economic Policy Institute
“In this evocative book, Barbara Garson hears out a host of victims, gamblers, and scramblers ensnared in the network of rackets that drives the American economy, and shows how high-level policies produce collateral damage and blast dreams. This is reporting for hearts and minds alike.” —Todd Gitlin, author of Occupy Nation: The Roots, the Spirit, and the Promise of Occupy Wall Street
“Americans cope with the fallout from 40 years of dwindling prospects in this quietly harrowing mosaic of economic decline. Journalist Garson (All the Livelong Day) focuses on the basics—jobs, homes, money—and the people who have lost them since the 2008 financial crisis: a group of middle-aged New Yorkers who comfort each other as their layoffs turn into long-term unemployment; California homeowners, some facing immediate eviction, while others cynically game the foreclosure system; elderly pensioners who suddenly find their nest eggs crushed. Through their stories, she weaves lucid explanations of the mortgage bubble and financial speculations that wrecked the system, situating them within a larger analysis of the generations-long post-Vietnam economic transformation that replaced middle-class jobs with low-paid contingent labor, widened the gulf between the rich and the rest, and forced workers to take on ever more debt to keep their heads above water. Garson’s vivid, shrewd, warmly sympathetic profiles show the resilience with which ordinary Americans respond to misfortune, but also the enduring costs as they abandon hopes for a fulfilling career, an extra child, or a secure retirement. The result is a compelling portrait of an economy that has turned against the people.” —Publishers Weekly (starred)
“Garson . . . combines her skills as a dramatist with her activist's conscience in this study of the economic issues confronting individuals and families in different parts of the country. . . . A skillful presentation that lifts the veil too often hiding areas that should be brought to light.” —Kirkus Reviews
Top customer reviews
impact of the Great Recession and the decline of incomes for the 99% since
1980. She skillfully allows the Americans to express the impact of the past
30 yrs on their families and the lack of upward mobility. These were people
who "played by the rules" but the rules kept changing and the economic
shifts were persistently anti-worker. The author does a nice job of describing
the living standards of Americans in the past 30 yrs. I found this book to be
a "good read".
Most recent customer reviews
This is very useful with data & information, in this age of growing inequality, in most parts of the world.