Our educated, skilled and motivated middle class was the cornerstone of America s postwar economic might, but the country s dynamic core has struggled and changed dramatically through the last three decades. Kiernan s extensively researched story, told through individual histories, shows how the middle class flourished under unique circumstances following World War II; and details how our middle class has been rocked and shaped by events abroad as much as at home. By excluding too many Americans, the middle class we reverently recall was fractured from the beginning. What emerges through his storytelling is a picture of middle class decline and opportunity that is fuller, more moving and profound, and ultimately more useful in terms of charting a path forward than other examinations. His unique global perspective is a vital ingredient in charting the way ahead. This new frontier thesis shows that middle class greatness is again within our grasp if we take some powerful medicine and seize the global opportunity. America possesses the skills and talent the world needs. Americans must embrace what brought our middle class to prominence in the first place our American Mojo before it is too late and other countries steal the march.
All that is at stake is the soul of our nation."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2015-04-27
- Reviewer: Staff
Kiernan (Becoming China's Bitch) chronicles, in highly entertaining fashion, the American middle class's rise over the course of the 20th century, as well as its currently imperiled state. Observing that "80% of the world's purchasing power, 92% of the world's economic growth, and 95% of the world's consumers" are now outside the U.S., Kiernan asks whether Americans are in danger of being left behind. Each chapter begins with the story of a person who participated, and in some cases played a key part, in the progress of the American middle class, from the potato magnate who made McDonald's possible, to Betty Friedan and her contribution to unleashing the economic potential of American women. The stories touch on many topics, including the post-WWII housing boom, the economic impacts of racism, the culture war's origins in the late 1960s, and Reaganomics. The book would have benefited from less grandiose prose—at one point, Kiernan pronounces his narrative "an unabashed love story about struggle, triumph, and moments of despair." But overall, this is a riveting read that sets out not to draw definite solutions from past successes and failures, but to educate the general readership with storytelling. (June)