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The Occupy Handbook Paperback – April 17, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"More than a scrapbook of the recent Occupy Wall Street movement, The Occupy Handbook, a compilation by our best journalists, thinkers and economists, puts the story of America's revolt against inequality in welcome historical perspective. From the barricades of 1848, to the barrios of modern Chile, to the improbable campgrounds thrown together in the shadows of New York skyscrapers, the Handbook examines the budding question of whether democracy can foster a more equal, and also a more prosperous, society. Insightful pieces by Gillian Tett, John Cassidy, Bethany McLean and many more prepare you to think about the next outbreak of outrage and activism-which is only a matter of time."―Roger Lowenstein, author of The End of Wall Street and When Genius Failed

"When future historians ponder why the Great Recession failed to spark a populist revolt like those of the 1890s or 1930s, they'll find a wealth of insights in this remarkable volume."―Sylvia Nasar, author of Grand Pursuit: The Story of Economic Genius and A Beautiful Mind

"This fascinating collection explains why and how income and wealth inequalities have rightly climbed to the top of the policy agenda in so many countries. With multiple perspectives from both experts and activists, The Occupy Handbook contains valuable insights on the historical context, the formation of the popular movements, their impact, and what the future may hold. I suspect it won't be long before this handbook is viewed as the reference guide for understanding how an unstructured gathering of people in Zuccotti Park ended up providing the catalyst redefining policy imperatives around the world."―Mohamed A. El-Erian, CEO of PIMCO and author of When Markets Collide

"A rich set of ideas for reforming the American political and economic system. Will any of these suggestions gain traction with the people who seek and hold political office? That depends entirely on you-the reader. Either we still have a vibrant democracy, capable of making sensible public policy. Or we are going down a long and very dark path."―Simon Johnson, MIT Sloan School of Management and co-author, with James Kwak, of White House Burning and 13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown

"For those who have come to believe that economics exists only to legitimize the interests of a wealthy elite, this remarkable collection should be an eye-opener. Here we see what economics does best, which is to pursue a parsimonious and plausible set of hypotheses unblinkingly to their logical conclusion. The answers will often surprise: Did you know, for example, that the best evidence on how we should set income taxes points to tax rates upwards of 60 percent on the rich? Read the essay by Diamond and Saez (a Nobel Prize winner and a winner of the almost equally distinguished John Bates Clark Medal) for why."―Abhijit V. Banerjee, MIT, and co-author, with Esther Duflo, of Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty

"A succinct body of essays by knowledgeable, sympathetic observers on the grievances of the Occupy Wall Street protestors....An educational, highly useful primer on what's broken and how to fix it."―Kirkus Reviews

"An excellent one-stop shop for analysis of the financial crisis and everything about it."―Felix Salmon, Reuters

About the Author

Janet Byrne is an editor who has worked with Nobel Prize-winning economists, Pulitzer Prize-winning writers, and leading political figures, financial journalists, academics, and best-selling authors. She is the author of A Genius for Living: The Life of Frieda Lawrence, a New York Times Notable Book, has served as a researcher for and as a contributor to numerous books, and has written for the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. She lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; First Edition edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316220213
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316220217
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #362,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is not really a book, but a collection of essays and observations on the Occupy Wall Street "movement".

I really enjoyed and learned from about a third of the essays contained in this eclectic collection. Another third, however, were boring repetition and less than first rate writing from first rate writers.

Like many observers, I have been somewhat perplexed by Occupy's failure to present an agenda, a list of goals, or a program. David Graeber and Chris Hedges, however, do a very good job of explaining the positive side of anarchy and messy participatory democracy.

It's a worthy read, but you will find yourself skimming a lot of the selections.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The Occupy Handbook is a collection of writings authored by major contributors to the lively contemporary debate on the political economy. Its authors come, by invitation, from the world of journalism, academics, and political action. From her introductory essay through the intelligent method of organization of essays, the editor, Janet Byrne, makes clear that the handbook will not be writing down to the reader. The essays, whether written to instruct, or persuade, or, in some instances, exercise self-justification, are for the most part engaging and informative. The authors contributed what they believed was important for readers to know and the editor lets us hear them. They are not homogenized. A lecture on the manner in which our form of legislative government is vulnerable to wealth inequality - delivered in the good humored, concise, and instructive voice of your favorite TED lecturer - shares the podium with an essay on sub-prime financing delivered with the bridled contempt of a prophet whose warning continued to be ignored while the sky falls around him. Their differing voices - and, in particular, their differing attitudes - give a unique ebb and flow to the collection - placing you in the midst of the genuine debate. Along the way, even enlightened readers pick up those little gems of previously unknown information which are the joy of the essay. This is not a straight through read - it is a "read and think." A book to put on your kindle and keep nearby. Read and think. Then do it again. You find yourself in the midst of authentic voices in lively, important, debate, which stays with you. A remarkable accomplishment in the world of talking heads and talking points.
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Banking, business, one-percent, ninety-nine percent... Are the lines that clearly drawn, is it that cut and dried? I don't think so. As an individual, do I have the time (read energy or desire) to research all the moving parts and come to a clear cut personal opinion? I don't think so. Personal empathy for those in our country who are struggling financially versus working my own ten hour working days in the energy business incur mixed feelings about the Occupy Wall Street movement in general.

Enter the Occupy Handbook. Wow. Starting with the very personal introduction by Janet Byrne I was drawn into a graphic scenario about the disparity of urban, agricultural and big business landscape on a mere train ride from Philadelphia, through New Jersey, into New York. The varied income levels in that small stretch of our country provide an individualized perspective of the intellectual approach to the issues. Moving to Michael Lewis' tongue-in-cheek, witty article and Gillian Tett's discussion of silos in the banking industry primed the pump to encourage me to learn from this book, regardless of my pre-conceived opinions.

As with many `handbooks' this is a learning tool that provides insight into a problem while allowing the reader to cull salient points and form one's own opinion. Kudos to Ms. Byrne and kudos to the individual authors for taking the time to pull this together.
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This 2012 book is a collection of essays and writings from a wide variety of activists and thinkers; e.g., Paul Krugman; Michael Lewis; Matt Taibbi; Barbara Ehrenreich; Paul Volcker; Chris Hedges, etc. The first section of the book considers precursors of OWS (e.g., the Townsend Club movement which led to the passage of Social Security); the second part covers the present; the third part covers "actions." Or, "The Occupy Handbook offers, first, analysis of precedent, then a look at the here and now, and, finally, a view of how we might proceed." (Pg. xxii)

One essayist notes that "the history of Wall Street is a series of booms and busts. After each blowup, the firms that survive temporarily shy away from risky ventures and cut back on leverage. Over time, the markets recover their losses, memories fade, spirits revive, and the action starts up again, until, eventually, it goes too far. The mere fact that Wall Street poses less of an immediate threat to the rest of us doesn't mean it has permanently mended its ways." (Pg. 71-72)

Another observes that "At the heart of the Occupy Wall Street movement is the critique that wealth and opportunity are not equitably distributed, and our media system, largely controlled by corporations, contributes to the status quo." (Pg. 263) Another suggests that "Occupation is primarily a cultural movement, one that transcends politics; or that is how it wishes to be seen... Occupation seeks to address our spiritual yearnings, our domestic ideals, our economic needs." (Pg. 272)

One person interviewed stated that Occupy Wall Street "starts from a disillusion about government action, (but) comes with the constructive feeling that there must be a way the government can make things better." (Pg. 312)

This fascinating and very helpful collection will certainly expand one's view of the Occupy movement, and will be of considerable interest to all persons interested in progressive politics.
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