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Who Stole the American Dream? Hardcover – September 11, 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 306 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Smith, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, explains how the middle-class prosperity after WWII (the 1950s, ’60s, and ’70s) was reversed in the 1980s, ’90s, and 2000s because of a long period of sweeping transformations both in Washington’s policies and in the mind-set and practices of American business leaders. American corporations paid high wages and good benefits after the war; millions of workers spent their money; and business investment increased, which led to growth, expansion, and higher living standards. The 1980s ushered in the era of job losses and a lid on average pay scales; hence, consumer spending declined, and the nation’s economy was negatively affected. We learn the top 1 percent (3 million people) got two-thirds of the U.S. economic gain between 2002–7, and the 99 percent (310 million) got one-third. Smith concludes, We are at a defining moment for America. . . . We must come together and take action to rejuvenate our nation and to restore fairness and hope in our way of life. An informative account. --Mary Whaley

Review

“[A] sweeping, authoritative examination of the last four decades of the American economic experience.”—The Huffington Post
 
“Some fine work has been done in explaining the mess we’re in. . . . But no book goes to the headwaters with the precision, detail and accessibility of Smith.”—The Seattle Times
 
“Sweeping in scope . . . [Smith] posits some steps that could alleviate the problems of the United States.”—USA Today
 
“Brilliant . . . [a] remarkably comprehensive and coherent analysis of and prescriptions for America’s contemporary economic malaise.”Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
 
“Smith enlivens his narrative with portraits of the people caught up in events, humanizing complex subjects often rendered sterile in economic analysis. . . . The human face of the story is inseparable from the history.”—Reuters
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; First Edition edition (September 11, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400069661
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400069668
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.5 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (306 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #160,308 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Stephen T. Hopkins VINE VOICE on September 20, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Journalist Hedrick Smith builds a case one piece at a time in his book Who Stole the American Dream? He shows through multiple examples over the past four decades how public policies that favor the rich have decimated the economic strength of average workers and enhanced the power of the wealthy. He shows how the United States has changed from a fairly level society to a plutocracy. This has been a transformation of American society that has important consequences. There are multiple predators that Smith exposes in this book, and he proposes ways in which we can turn this situation around, if we want. Readers interested in public policy should consider this required reading, whether one agrees or disagrees with Smith's views.

Rating: Four-star (Highly Recommended)
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A very informative book, highly interesting and easy to read. Being in my early 60's, while reading the book I frequently found myself saying "yes, I remember when that happened", but then I also often commented to myself "so that's what was really going on!" The author does a great job of connecting the dots on many events, especially since 1971, all building his case for what happened to the dream. Having been in senior positions in big corporations my whole career. I lived through a lot of these events first hand and I found it to be a pretty accurate analysis of their impact. Unfortunately, it is a sad and scary story for my children, and one that will be difficult to reverse. But knowing the problem is the first step to solving it, so thanks for that!
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Format: Hardcover
EDIT of 16 Sep 2012: I fear this book will be over-shadowed by Mike Lofgren's book, "The Party Is Over: How Republicans Went Crazy, Democrats Became Useless, and the Middle Class Got Shafted" as well as Greg Palast's book, "Billionaires & Ballot Bandits: How to Steal an Election in 9 Easy Steps." For me the ideal would be modern day Chautauqua bus tour with these three authors, Matt Taibbi, author of "Griftopia," and a constantly changing mix of local Independents, Constitution, Green, Libertarian, and Reform candidates--and me as the Amazon reviewer and master of ceremonies. Such a tour WOULD make a revolution--especially if we could also draw attention to the daily suicide of veterans that the media refuses to honor.

EDIT of 12 Sep 2012: I spent the night thinking about this book. Directly below [and now also loaded as a graphic to this Amazon page] are a graphic showing the preconditions of revolution in the USA, and the short paper on revolution from which the graphic was drawn Here's the deal: ample preconditions exist for a public overthrow of the two-party tyranny, but a precipitant (such as the fruit seller in Tunisia) has not occurred. Even though 18 veterans commit suicide day after day after day, this is hushed up. Occupy blew it--they should have occupied the home offices of every Senator and Representative and demanded the one thing Congress could deliver that would energize the public: the Electoral Reform Act of 2012. This book by Hedrick Smith, and the book tour, could be a first step toward mobilizing a complacent public. [search for phrases below to get right to them]. Don't miss all three graphics above with the cover.
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Format: Hardcover
*****
"... Who Stole the American Dream? provides a readable and comprehensive account of how Americans have been robbed of our dream of a broad middle class over the past forty years. It is essential reading."--Jay Lorsch, Harvard Business School
*

"What would an economy built on principles of fairness and sustainability look like? How do we model it; where is it emerging; how do we collectively plan its strategies to fully implement it? These are the pressing questions of our time." Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith compelling work of political history and economic analysis is inspiring by unanticipated discoveries, and illuminating insights, inked with the empathy of a great research reporter. Smith offers ideas for reclaiming the American Dream by restoring the great American promise.

This is a systematic recount of socio-economic revelations; how the New Economy disrupted America's enterprise engine of shared prosperity, with a vicious circle that unveiled its ugly face in the collapse of Lehman Brothers, and the chain reaction which followed. We are at a turning period in America's history. Global economy has failed in its promise to produce and deliver basic goods in an efficient manner for an expanding population, with increasing number of hopeless poverty. Inequities between rich and poor, North and South, grow ever deeper.

Smith documents the transfer of six trillion dollars in middle-class wealth from homeowners to banks even before the housing boom went bust, and how the U.S. policy bowed favoring the rich, is stunting America's economic growth, and practices that once pushed and incited the American way of life. Smith narrates the distressing story of how the so-called New Economy destroyed the many tenets.
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