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Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History by [Kurt Andersen]
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Whereas Fantasyland concerned Americans' centuries-old weakness for the untrue and irrational, and its spontaneous and dangerous flowering since the 1960s, Evil Geniuses chronicles the quite deliberate reengineering of our economy and society since the 1960s by a highly rational confederacy of the rich, the right, and big business.
Kurt Andersen
Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History
562 Kindle readers highlighted this
As it turned out, the 1980s were the '30s but in reverse: instead of a fast-acting New Deal, a time-release Raw Deal.
Kurt Andersen
Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History
481 Kindle readers highlighted this
The political right rode in on that floodtide of nostalgia, and then, ironically, the old-time every-man-for-himself political economy they reinstalled, less fair and less secure, drove people deeper into their various nostalgic havens for solace.
Kurt Andersen
Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History
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Editorial Reviews


“This is the one book everyone must read as we figure out how to rebuild our country. With lucid writing and head-snapping insights, Kurt Andersen explores how a confederacy of the right and big business, with unabashed greed, deliberately reengineered our economy. To fix that will require understanding the roots of the problem. A triumph.”—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci

“Nostalgia is the antithesis of history. Andersen brilliantly exposes how nostalgia—the strategic oversimplification of our past—has erased complexity and friction from our country’s narrative to serve a single goal: to preserve the status quo for the benefit of those in power. Evil Geniuses documents how history and nostalgia are engaged in hand-to-hand combat that may determine our future.”—Ken Burns, director of The Civil War and The Roosevelts: An Intimate History

“How did the United States turn from its longstanding egalitarian ideals to its present course of socially and morally catastrophic inequality? Kurt Andersen interrogates the past half century with characteristic intellectual ambition and literary bravado to find out. At once cultural history, memoir, and riff, Evil Geniuses explains how our country found its way into this predicament, and how we might yet get out of it.”—Jacob Weisberg, author of The Bush Tragedy and Ronald Reagan

Evil Geniuses is a vivid catalog of American sociopolitical history—a dedicated deep dive into this country’s paradoxical legacy of innovation and ego, with Andersen as its clear-eyed, masterful archivist.”—Rebecca Carroll, WNYC cultural critic and host of the podcast Come Through

“Back when the idea of President Reagan still seemed a stretch and President Trump was barely a joke, some serious, smart, committed people with vast appetites and little shame—right-wing intellectuals and billionaires, CEOs and Washington hustlers—launched a long war to create a paradigm shift and rewrite our social contract to their benefit. Andersen’s dazzling, mind-bending, must-read chronicle of that fifty-year crusade explains how it happened, why it succeeded, and, unsettlingly, what that victory means: America is now theirs.”—John Heilemann, host of Showtime’s The Circus, co-author of Game Change and Double Down

“Wow. Evil Geniuses is engaging, enraging, enthralling, appalling; a true tour de force. And most of all, it’s the truth—about how these rapacious bastards have picked this country’s bones for the last fifty years, and what the rest of us need to do to turn the tables. Exactly the book we need right now.”—Michael Tomasky, Daily Beast columnist and author of If We Can Keep It

About the Author

Kurt Andersen is the bestselling author of Evil GeniusesFantasyland and the novels True Believers, Heyday andTurn of the Century, among other books. He contributes to The New York Times and was host and co-creator of Studio 360, the Peabody Award–winning public radio show and podcast. He also writes for television, film, and the stage. Andersen co-founded Spy magazine, served as editor in chief of New York, and was a cultural columnist and design critic for Time, New York and The New Yorker. He graduated from Harvard College and lives in Brooklyn. --This text refers to the paperback edition.

Product details

  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B0852NXWR5
  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Random House (August 11, 2020)
  • Publication date ‏ : ‎ August 11, 2020
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • File size ‏ : ‎ 4875 KB
  • Text-to-Speech ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Enhanced typesetting ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • X-Ray ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Word Wise ‏ : ‎ Enabled
  • Print length ‏ : ‎ 416 pages
  • Lending ‏ : ‎ Not Enabled
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 1,962 ratings

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
1,962 global ratings
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Top reviews from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on August 23, 2020
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5.0 out of 5 stars Well Worth the Time to Read this Book
By Steven Maimes on August 23, 2020
It was a journey reading this book, but worth the time. Most of us have a poor understanding of economics and capitalism. We grew up getting by, participating in our own culture, work, and family. We hardly noticed that we are living in a time of extreme political economics and political capitalism.

Kurt Andersen has written a wonderfully useful book to educate us about the unmaking of America. The main subject of the book is the excessive power granted to big business starting in the 1970s. The book provides detailed information on free-market political economics in America and the many evil geniuses that made it happen.

Andersen explains how our downfall began with a complete restructuring of our political economy. Topics such as supply-side economics, tax cuts, deregulation, anti-trust enforcement, labor, law, and everything imaginable to benefit the rich and big business. Those in control told us that big business and greed are good, big government is bad.

The theme of nostalgia and cultural nostalgia was woven throughout the book illustrating how we long for the past, and what nostalgia does to us by shaping our present.

The review of history from the 1960s to the present made me think: where was I when all this happened. I like most people have been ideologically inconsistent and ignorant of what was happening to our economy. Read this book to find out what we missed the past 40 years and to see how things have come together looking back through history.

I especially liked Part One - A Brief History of America through the 1960s. The 1970s and 1980s are discussed in much detail with background information and quotes from the evil geniuses that led us astray.

The conclusion of the book is simply: do we move forward toward a better more equitable society or do we remain in some sort of stasis. Hopefully, the pendulum will start to move from the right to the center.

388 pages of text; plus, introduction, bibliography, and an especially useful index. Recommended.
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Reviewed in the United States on August 14, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on August 17, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on August 28, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on August 13, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on August 21, 2020
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Reviewed in the United States on August 16, 2020
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Top reviews from other countries

John A.
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating tale of the USA’s 40 year slide into a social, political and economic dystopia!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 16, 2020
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Ian Wood
5.0 out of 5 stars Important analysis of the rich agenda in the US since 1980
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 24, 2021
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Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A heady read
Reviewed in Canada on September 28, 2020
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Robert Venafro
5.0 out of 5 stars An Eye-Popping History
Reviewed in Canada on March 2, 2021
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D. Hudson
5.0 out of 5 stars A depressing but necessary read
Reviewed in Canada on October 5, 2020
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