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Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2012-07-30
- Reviewer: Staff
This depressing book details the recent wreckage of the American middle-class dream: the hope for decent comfort and security for oneself and one’s family under fair rules set the same for everyone. Smith, a Pulitzer-winning former New York Times reporter and expert on Russia and the Pentagon Papers, is comprehensive and compelling in his coverage and blame laying. His principle villains are American corporations and politicians, his concerns such realities as the nation’s huge wealth gap and excessive pay for corporate executives, even those who fail. But while the book performs an important service in bringing recent history and well-known problems together, there’s little in it that’s new. In calling for a “populist renaissance,” a domestic Marshall Plan, and more citizens’ involvement, Smith’s on the side of liberal angels. But he doesn’t deal adequately with structural and institutional barriers to reform, instead arguing principally that changes of heart and civic engagement will make things right. Unfortunately, the book is written in blaringly subtitled two-page chapterettes, as if readers won’t stick with Smith long enough to learn what he has to say. But even if patronizing to some readers, the book is a strong, effective liberal indictment of things as they are. Agent: David Black, David Black Literary Agency. (Sept.)