Who Stole the American Dream?

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Overview

Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith’s new book is an extraordinary achievement, an eye-opening account of how, over the past four decades, the American Dream has been dismantled and we became two Americas.
 
In his bestselling The Russians, Smith took millions of readers inside the Soviet Union. In The Power Game, he took us inside Washington’s corridors of power. Now Smith takes us across America to show how seismic changes, sparked by a ...

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Overview

Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith’s new book is an extraordinary achievement, an eye-opening account of how, over the past four decades, the American Dream has been dismantled and we became two Americas.
 
In his bestselling The Russians, Smith took millions of readers inside the Soviet Union. In The Power Game, he took us inside Washington’s corridors of power. Now Smith takes us across America to show how seismic changes, sparked by a sequence of landmark political and economic decisions, have transformed America. As only a veteran reporter can, Smith fits the puzzle together, starting with Lewis Powell’s provocative memo that triggered a political rebellion that dramatically altered the landscape of power from then until today.
 
This is a book full of surprises and revelations—the accidental beginnings of the 401(k) plan, with disastrous economic consequences for many; the major policy changes that began under Jimmy Carter; how the New Economy disrupted America’s engine of shared prosperity, the “virtuous circle” of growth, and how America lost the title of “Land of Opportunity.” Smith documents the transfer of $6 trillion in middle-class wealth from homeowners to banks even before the housing boom went bust, and how the U.S. policy tilt favoring the rich is stunting America’s economic growth.
 
This book is essential reading for all of us who want to understand America today, or why average Americans are struggling to keep afloat. Smith reveals how pivotal laws and policies were altered while the public wasn’t looking, how Congress often ignores public opinion, why moderate politicians got shoved to the sidelines, and how Wall Street often wins politically by hiring over 1,400 former government officials as lobbyists.
 
Smith talks to a wide range of people, telling the stories of Americans high and low. From political leaders such as Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to CEOs such as Al Dunlap, Bob Galvin, and Andy Grove, to heartland Middle Americans such as airline mechanic Pat O’Neill, software systems manager Kristine Serrano, small businessman John Terboss, and subcontractor Eliseo Guardado, Smith puts a human face on how middle-class America and the American Dream have been undermined.
 
This magnificent work of history and reportage is filled with the penetrating insights, provocative discoveries, and the great empathy of a master journalist. Finally, Smith offers ideas for restoring America’s great promise and reclaiming the American Dream.

Praise for Who Stole the American Dream?
 
“[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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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“[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
The Washington Post
Long before most reporters and social scientists took note, Smith had established himself as television journalism's foremost expert on the forces eroding the ranks of the middle class. In a series of penetrating Frontline documentaries over more than a decade, he chronicled the rise of a new buccaneer brand of global capitalism that relentlessly undermined the middle-class dream of "a steady job with decent pay and health benefits, rising living standards, a home of your own, secure retirement, and the hope that your children would enjoy a better future." Now in a sober, self-described reporter's book, Smith deepens his analysis using the latest data.
—Frederick R. Lynch
Publishers Weekly
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.)
Kirkus Reviews
Remarkably comprehensive and coherent analysis of and prescriptions for America's contemporary economic malaise by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Smith (Rethinking America, 1995, etc.). "Over the past three decades," writes the author, "we have become Two Americas." We have arrived at a new Gilded Age, where "gross inequality of income and wealth" have become endemic. Such inequality is not simply the result of "impersonal and irresistible market forces," but of quite deliberate corporate strategies and the public policies that enabled them. Smith sets out on a mission to trace the history of these strategies and policies, which transformed America from a roughly fair society to its current status as a plutocracy. He leaves few stones unturned. CEO culture has moved since the 1970s from a concern for the general well-being of society, including employees, to the single-minded pursuit of personal enrichment and short-term increases in stock prices. During much of the '70s, CEO pay was roughly 40 times a worker's pay; today that number is 367. Whether it be through outsourcing and factory closings, corporate reneging on once-promised contributions to employee health and retirement funds, the deregulation of Wall Street and the financial markets, a tax code which favors overwhelmingly the interests of corporate heads and the superrich--all of which Smith examines in fascinating detail--the American middle class has been left floundering. For its part, government has simply become an enabler and partner of the rich, as the rich have turned wealth into political influence and rigid conservative opposition has created the politics of gridlock. What, then, is to be done? Here, Smith's brilliant analyses turn tepid, as he advocates for "a peaceful political revolution at the grassroots" to realign the priorities of government and the economy but offers only the vaguest of clues as to how this might occur. Not flawless, but one of the best recent analyses of the contemporary woes of American economics and politics.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780812982053
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/27/2013
  • Pages: 624
  • Sales rank: 80,798
  • Product dimensions: 5.36 (w) x 7.86 (h) x 1.31 (d)

Meet the Author

Hedrick Smith

Hedrick Smith is a bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, and Emmy Award–winning producer. His books The Russians and The Power Game were critically acclaimed bestsellers and are widely used in college courses today. As a reporter at The New York Times, Smith shared a Pulitzer for the Pentagon Papers series and won a Pulitzer for his international reporting from Russia in 1971–1974. Smith’s prime-time specials for PBS have won several awards for examining systemic problems in modern America and offering insightful, prescriptive solutions.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 16, 2012

    I'm a Vietnam Vet, and everything that this book tells us is bas

    I'm a Vietnam Vet, and everything that this book tells us is based on our history since then. We were told that we were in Vietnam to stem the tide of the Red Menace, now they Red Menace controls our Middle Class. We all prospered with the Middle Class doing well from the 50's to the 70's, in the times of Goverment Controlled Bank, Business, and Enviromental Regulations. Then the American Business model changed, and bought their way into the Dreams and Lives of every citizen. As the Bought and Paid for by business Political Party states QUOTE "Are you Better Off Now", than in 1960? They continue to scare American's into believing that No Government, No Regulations, and No Taxes are a way to go, while dividing the Country into the QUOTE "You’re either with us or Against Us" mentality. Well while you are shopping at Wal-Mart for that next piece of Foreign Made stuff that you do not really need, and will break tomorrow anyway, READ THIS BOOK, and keep Your Mind Open!

    26 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 11, 2013

    Wake up America

    Who Stole the American Dream provides an insight into the problems with the corporate world and Congress, They are only concerned about their rich friends and have thrown the ordinary American under the bus. He explain the painful journey of most Americans as the poor get pooer and the middle class is disappearing and the gulf between the poor and the rich is getting wider and wider.

    It seems that the rich have convinced a certain part of the 47% to accept inequality as a way of life. Banks charge exorbitant feed and interest designed to keep the poor poor and the minimum wage is a laugh. The wealthy of this country are willing to tip their waiter at a higher rate that they are willing to pay the workers that make them rich.

    If we continue on the path that the hate radio, FOX TV, the rich, and our Congress is taking us, we will lose this democracy that we so dearly cherish.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 16, 2012

    Read this eye opening historical account. This book makes clear

    Read this eye opening historical account. This book makes clear how the economy has come to be in the unhealthy position that we find today.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2012

    I regarded myself as a good Republican voter until I finished th

    I regarded myself as a good Republican voter until I finished this book. Now I am not so sure. Although this book seems a bit to the liberal side it will truely make you think. It sure opened my eyes. I recommend it to anyone who feels their side is always right. We need more compromise in life and government.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2013

    Highly Recommended reading!

    An extensive review of all the shenanigans pols, financial gurus, ceos, etc. ply upon our economy to get their way and steal the wealth of the nation.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2013

    Barbara, OSU Comp Student, Spring 2013 Hedrick Smith¿s political

    Barbara, OSU Comp Student, Spring 2013
    Hedrick Smith’s political nonfiction book highlighted the trade deficit, congressional gridlock, and out sourcing of jobs to spur reader political activism in hopes of decreasing the gap between the wealthiest one percent and the other ninety nine percent of Americans. Gaining the knowledge behind these major economic issues pushed me to become more speculative about who is controlling policies that affect working Americans, but at times the numerous topics addressed became overwhelming depressing, to the point that the situation and inequalities appeared far too corrupt to be fixed. Overall this book held a passionate interesting tone of voice, and is a worthwhile read for those interested in major economic issues.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    A must read for every middle class American!

    Smith's book will not only open your eyes to a need for economic change in America, but shows the path that needs to be taken. If only every American middleclass, underclass person who has suffered from America's economic repression joined the grassroot movement to take our country back from the 1%, we could become the "land of the free, governed by the people, for the people" again. One of the best books I have read in years.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 21, 2013

    Ravenkit

    What do want.

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    Posted April 18, 2013

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    Posted March 8, 2013

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    Posted October 4, 2012

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