- Save 25% each on All Qualifying Items offered by WonderBook when you purchase 3 or more. Here's how (restrictions apply)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Were You Born on the Wrong Continent?: How the European Model Can Help You Get a Life Hardcover – August 10, 2010
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Customers who bought this item also bought
Special offers and product promotions
From Publishers Weekly
Labor lawyer and Europhile, Geohegan (Which Side Are You On?) makes a passionate case for the high-tax, regulation-heavy model of life on the Continent. Using Germany as a model, he argues the middle class is the real beneficiary of European social democracy--its members reap free education, free child care, free nursing home care, guaranteed vacation time, and generous unemployment payments--while their white-collar American counterparts struggle to pay for the same. "Europe is set up for the bourgeois," writes Geohegan. "America's a great place to buy kitty litter at Wal-Mart and relatively cheap gas. But it's not set up for me, a professional without a lot of money." While he's quick to acknowledge that critics seize on labor's costs and prominence as a potential path to the collapse of the system, he's convinced of the framework in place. The narrative unspools in a chatty, anecdotal style; it's jumpy, appealingly digressive, and winning, all the more so for being such an unabashed polemic that refuses to be resigned to the rising rate of inequality in the U.S.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Born in Cincinnati in 1949, Geoghegan is a graduate of St. Xavier High School, Harvard University, and Harvard Law School. He has worked as a contributing editor at The New Republic, a lawyer in the United Mine Workers's legal department, and a policy analyst for the U.S. Department of Energy. He is a partner at the law firm Despres, Schwartz, and Geoghegan, where he has worked since 1979. As a public-interest lawyer, he has filed lawsuits to enforce child labor laws, expand voting rights, crack down on the payday loan industry, and require public health measures to stop the spread of tuberculosis among the homeless. As a labor lawyer, he has represented nurses, machinists, railroad workers, steelworkers, teachers, truck drivers, the rank-and-file anticorruption group Teamsters for a Democratic Union, as well as workers who lack the protection of a union.
Geoghegan has been awarded a Fulbright scholarship, a German Marshall grant, and fellowships at the American Academy in Berlin and the Institute of Politics at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
I doubt I could endure the US even to this point were I living someplace where public transportation is more restricted or even non-existent. So for now, Chicago is probably the best compromise for living a more Euro type of life: smaller home, public transport, public parks, libraries and cafes and coffeehouses for reading (instead of ALWAYS doing those activities in one's own home).
I knew the Europeans (and all other industrialized countries other than USA and South Africa) had universal medical, but until I read this book, I didn't understand how labor is interwoven into the fabric of German corporations. Now I'm even more jealous of the Europeans than I was before. Having stayed at two jobs just to have medical insurance - even though I hated both of those jobs - I can definitely vouch that the US system of getting health insurance through one's employer DOES stunt one's life and choices, and that almost certainly means that the overall US economy suffers.
The bottom line is, the Euros DO have it better: longer vacation time, more power and more security in their jobs. The US is devolving into a "wage slave" economy. I finally started my own business as my version of a way out, but my husband's career is such that he can't really do the same, and his work hours have gotten longer and longer each year for the past ten years. While he has gotten raises, they have only JUST kept up with the increased work hours....there's definitely no net gain there for him (us).
It's a shame, as I (at age 43) really do remember when things weren't this brutal. I listen to the sound bites of politicians on TV, all proclaiming that the USA is "the best", and all I can say is, NO, the USA is NOT the best, not anymore. It was once, and it CAN be again, but the focus needs to shift from using just one measure - the stock market - and needs to start including metrics like overall quality of life for the general public instead of just the quality of life of the super rich. Sadly, I doubt that it will happen in my lifetime, or, if it does, it'll take at least another 20 years before things start to change for the better for the general public.
I am jealous that I wasn't born on the other side of the Atlantic. I know that things are getting worse over there - the right wing authoritarians are trying to wreak havoc in Europe now, too - but even so, things are still better there, at least for now. I just wish I had known all of this back when I was in my 20's; I would have made more efforts to emigrate and live there. Now, at age 43, I'm not very attractive to the Euro countries as a new member of their society, so probably our only option now is to spend our retirement years there.
If you're still young (20's or early 30's), go learn about Europe (and other countries) and try to find a way to get over there and see it first hand. Then consider strongly doing whatever you can to move there. At this sad point in the US's history, getting out is most likely your best option for having a decent life without having to work 10 (or more) hour days and living in fear of losing your health insurance if you're laid off (or not being able to afford the insane premiums charged by the "health" "insurance" companies here).
I bought this book to better understand German and other European labor laws, the way they set wages, business culture, works councils, co-determination laws and unions. Instead, I found myself skipping through sentences and paragraphs full of manically written words that had nothing to do with the subject matter. After 3 chapters of skipping through like this, I just gave up.
Could have been so much better. From the amount I did read, there are wonderful insights into European, specifically German, business and labor practices. Unfortunately, these insights are buried in unnecessary anecdotes and attempts to be witty.