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Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy Audio CD – Audiobook, Unabridged
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A Foreign Policy Favorite Read of 2012
A Mother Jones Staff Pick for Best Nonfiction of 2012
An Inc.com Top Five Business Book of 2012
A Kirkus Reviews Best Nonfiction Book of 2012
“Excellent” – Rolling Stone
“Hayes, an editor-at-large of The Nation and host of the MSNBC talk show Up With Chris Hayes, has written a perceptive and searching analysis of the problems of meritocracy.” – Foreign Affairs
“[A] stunning polemic….Hayes' book is the rare tome that originates from a political home (the left) and yet actually challenges assumptions that undergird the dominant logic in both political parties. This is not mealy-mouthed centrism. It is a substantive critique of the underlying logic of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney – the logic of meritocracy.” – Ta-Nehisi Coates, Baltimore Sun
“In a very good new book titled Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, Chris Hayes offers one of the most compelling assessments of how soaring inequality is changing American society.” – The Economist.com
“Let's just say that if you like politics and big ideas, you want to buy this book. It's a lot more intellectually ambitious than your typical pundit book and offers a really great blend of writing chops and social theory synthesis.”
– Matthew Yglesias, Slate.com
“In his new book, The Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, Chris Hayes manages the impossible trifecta: the book is compellingly readable, impossibly erudite, and—most stunningly of all—correct.” – Aaron Swartz, Crookedtimber.org
“Engrossing….thoughtful critiques of what's gone wrong with America's ruling class.” – The Atlantic.com
“I was myself very impressed by the level of execution in this book.”
– Tyler Cowen, Marginalrevolution.com
“Hayes’s book makes for a great read….Twilight uses a wide variety of academic and journalistic work, balancing a deep, systemic critique of society with detailed and empathetic reporting about those most affected by elite failure.”
– Mike Konczal, Dissent
“Twilight of the Elites offers an elegant, original argument that will make both cynics and idealists reconsider their views of how, and whether, our society works. If Americans believe in anything, it’s our meritocracy. Hayes is brave to question it so forcefully.” – Commonweal
“A potent articulation of a society’s free-floating angst, Twilight of the Elites stakes its claim as the jeremiad by which these days will be remembered.”
– Washington Monthly.com
“I read Chris Hayes' Twilight of the Elites last month and will suggest that you read it too – it's an engaging read that addresses the question of whether a meritocratic elite can really stay meritocratic over extended periods of time.” – Daniel W. Drezner, Foreign Policy.com
“This was a book I found so stimulating and immersive that I cannot wait to be able to discuss it with a larger audience….Even if you think you are aware of the depth of the rot plaguing the highest levels of our society, you will likely earn a new level of outrage by reading this book.” – Alexis Goldstein, Livetotry.com
“Make[s] you think in new ways about why we tolerate such vast and growing income inequality….an extended meditation on why the great hope and change revolution of 2008 has so far left the inequitable status quo a little bit too intact.” – Salon.com
“Twilight of the Elites by Chris Hayes may change the way you look at the world….[It] almost single-handily undermines virtually every precept we’ve come to accept about life in the modern age. It also may well turn out to be the seminal treatise for the so-called ‘FAIL’ generation, a term that loosely connotes everyone who graduated since the beginning of the 21st Century.” – Good Men Project.com
“Twilight of the Elites is a engaging, insightful book. I finished it in less than 24 hours, and I encourage you to pick up a copy.” – Forbes.com
“You should really get yourself a copy of Twilight of the Elites” – Daily Kos
“A powerful critique of the meritocratic elite that has overseen one of the most disastrous periods of recent history.” – The American Conservative
“In his new book, Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy, Hayes raises demanding questions about a nation that is both enamored with and troubled by its elites.” – Reason
“[L]ively and well-informed….Offering feasible proposals for change, this cogent social commentary urges us to reconstruct our institutions so we can once again trust them.” – Publishers Weekly (starred)
“[A] forcefully written debut....A provocative discussion of the deeper causes of our current discontent, written with verve and meriting wide interest.”
– Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“This is the Next Big Thing that we have been waiting for. Twilight of the Elites is the fully reported, detailed, true story of a 21st century America beyond the reach of authority. It’s new, and true, and beautifully told -- Hayes is the young left’s most erudite and urgent interpreter. Brilliant book.” – Rachel Maddow, host of The Rachel Maddow Show and author of Drift
“Here is the story of the ‘fail decade’ and how it made cynicism the inescapable flavor of our times. Along the way Chris Hayes delivers countless penetrating insights as well as passages of brilliant observation. If you want to understand the world you're living in, sooner or later you will have to read this book.”
– Thomas Frank, author of Pity the Billionaire
“Chris Hayes is a brilliant chronicler of the central crisis of our time – the failure of America's elites. His humane, spirited reporting and analysis capture what millions of Americans already know in their gut – the emperor has no clothes. Yet this is not a book defined by despair or cynicism. Hayes seizes this moment of crisis to offer important and unconventional ideas as to how to reconstruct and reinvent our politics and society. Twilight of the Elites is a must read book for those, across the political spectrum, who believe there is still time to cure the structural ills of our body politic.” – Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor and publisher, The Nation
“In Twilight of the Elites, Hayes shows us what links the bailout of investment bankers but not mortgage holders, the useless public conversation in the run-up to the Iraq war, and the Catholic Church's harboring of child rapists: our core institutions are no longer self-correcting, and have become committed to protection of insiders at all costs. Read this and prepare to be enraged.”
– Clay Shirky, author of Here Comes Everybody and Cognitive Surplus
"A provocation; a challenge; and a major contribution to the great debate over how the American dream can be restored." – David Frum, contributing editor, DailyBeast/Newsweek
“Chris Hayes is a gift to this republic. The brilliance he shows us each week on MSNBC has now been complemented by this extraordinary book. Beautifully written, and powerfully argued, it will force you to rethink everything you take for granted about ‘merit.’ And it will show us a way to a more perfect nation.”
– Lawrence Lessig, Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership, Harvard Law School and author of Republic, Lost
“Chris Hayes has given us the kind of book people don't write any more: a sweeping work of social criticism like Rachel Carson's Silent Spring and Michael Harrington's The Other America that take the failings of an entire society as their subject. Those books brought grand movements of reform in their wake. Would that history repeats itself with Twilight of the Elites—America ignores this prophet at their gravest peril.” – Rick Perlstein, author of Nixonland and Before the Storm
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
Christopher Hayes is Editor at Large of The Nation and host of Up w/ Chris Hayes on MSNBC. From 2010 to 2011, he was a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J Safra Foundation Center for Ethics. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Time, The American Prospect, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, and The Guardian. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Kate and daughter Ryan.
Top customer reviews
Christopher Hayes' book, Twilight of the Elites, documents the end of elites in America, from religious to sporting to political to news organizations as well as others. They are often considered the pillars upon which society has rested. But in many cases, they have squandered the mandates by which they lead, the credibility they assumed they could not loose. In several cases, such as that of the Catholic Church, they have been sexual transgressions compounded by an emphasis on maintenance of their own power. In the case of sports, a win-at-any-cost mentality exemplified by the use of and tolerance of drugs. Winning above all else has lead to a collapse of the credibility of institutions, therefore, the lose of their leadership. Politics is certainly not exempt.
Regulators and legislators are guilty of the same sins. On page 173, Hays writes:
And yet during our era of fractal inequality, the noncommercial sphere has shrunk, leaving noncommercial institutions increasingly dependent on commercial interests. What we're left with is a blurring of the boundaries between what Jane Jacobs described as the Guardian Syndrome on the one hand and Commercial Syndrome on the other. According to Jacobs, the Guardian Syndrome ('shun trading," "be loyal," "treasure honor") regulates the behavior of the soldier, the politician, and the policeman among others, while the Commercial Syndrome ("compete," "respect contracts," "promote comfort and convenience") guides the behavior of the banker, the baker, and the businessman. This basic division captures something essential about our expectations of many "authority" figures, particularly elite authority figures in positions of great social and financial esteem. We want them to be Guardians first; we don't thin they should be for sale.
Yet our current system of fractal inequality creates the conditions in which everything is inexorably drawn into the realm of commerce.
The enormous differential in reward and power of the Commercial verses the Guardian role means that the former inevitably corrupts the latter. And it destroys the civil society we have created as a revolving door rewards today's regulators and government officials who move to the commercial side. "We can never be sure just which other business cards are in the pocket of pundit, politician, or professor."
The book is important to document and verify what many of us may believe about Trump: he is corrupt and corrupting. And dangerous to our republic. We need to heed a writer who observed that influence on outcomes, and fight for right rather than power alone.
Plutarch: An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.
Basically, the book is as fresh as today's headlines and he makes a clear case about the modern form of inequality in our culture with his unique form of insight. I found myself smiling at the truths he brought to light and his fresh analysis of America.
However, when I finished the book and sat down to write this review, I just couldn't come up with the core of his conclusions. There was a lot of food for thought of course and I applaud him for sharing his views. But his conclusions were not strong enough to leave me with a memory of them. He tried hard and I think he has a good head on his shoulders and a long career ahead of him, but I would have appreciated a strong conclusion.