A Bloomberg Businessweek Best Book of 2021
Featured in Kirkus’s “150 Most Anticipated Fall Books” and Adam Grant’s “10 New Leadership Books to Wrap Up Summer and Kick Off Fall”
“An engaging, compelling, thought-provoking book, filled with astute analysis, but also with very clear recommendations about what we need to be doing going forward if we are to escape some of the many problems and traps that [Ross] outlines so effectively in The Raging 2020s . . . This is very much a global book. . . .The way that [Ross connects] the pieces of this puzzle are very important.”
—Hillary Rodham Clinton
“Ross’s view . . . is from above, not the view of the people nor even the politicians. . . . An immensely (and unusually) readable account.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Alec Ross fearlessly confronts one of the fundamental concerns of our time: fixing the broken social contract between people, business, and government. His book will challenge you to rethink some of your assumptions about democracy, capitalism, and globalization.”
—Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Think Again and host of the TED podcast WorkLife
“Ross . . . astutely captures the changing landscape of society, documenting through real-life examples and engaging storytelling how the balance between individuals, business, and government has shifted. . . . The stories throughout the book challenge our assumption of how we think the world works—or should work—while laying out fresh ideas for a new direction forward.”
“This book is special. At a time when uncertainty fills every conversation and our recent history has left so many vulnerable, The Raging 2020s doesn’t just add clarity, it offers direction. Alec leaves the reader with both understanding and hope in a way not many can, and he continues to show why he is one of the foremost thinkers of our time. This book helps set the direction our society should follow.”
—Wes Moore, author, combat veteran, and social entrepreneur
“Alec Ross is a keen analyst and brilliant storyteller. The Raging 2020s introduces us to the people whose lives are blighted by unconscionable policies and concentrations of power, helping us understand and indeed share the rage that fuels many twenty-first-century political movements. Best of all, Ross is willing to speak truth to power in recommending a set of bold but realistic solutions.”
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, CEO, New America Foundation, and Bert G. Kerstetter ’66 University Professor Emerita of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University
“A gripping, illuminating chronicle that provides a wonderful bird’s-eye view from the heights of government and international business, that solidifies Ross’s position among the most visionary of global thinkers on the future of technology and its implications, and that also is an amazingly enjoyable, page-turning read!”
—General David Petraeus, former director of the CIA and former commander of the surge in Iraq, U.S. Central Command, and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan
“A provocative, well-made case for remaking the American way of doing business—and way of life.”
“This disquieting look is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the present moment.”
In serious disarray, the social contract requires a significant overhaul.
Early on in this manifesto, Ross, the senior adviser for innovation for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, makes a stark observation: “If the level of inequality in the United States had stayed at a constant level over the last forty years instead of widening to its current Mad Max–like state, it would have meant that $50 trillion would have gone to workers earning below the 90th percentile. That is an additional $1,100 every single month for every single worker.” Instead, we now squabble over raising the absurdly low minimum wage to only slightly less pathetic levels. A large part of the problem, notes the author, is that government has ceded authority to corporations, which naturally act in their own interest rather than for the common good. Furthermore, there is no effective labor movement to counter them. Corporations also evade taxes at such a level that if they paid their share, “of the people reading this book, 99 percent would pay less.” Ross examines scenarios on both macro and micro levels. In writing of the corporatization of agriculture, for example, he focuses on his native state of West Virginia, where the population has shrunk dramatically as rural jobs disappear. Even as this occurs, what should have been a strong union response has become an exercise in rural politics that is increasingly “nativist as [West Virginia] has grown poorer and sicker.” There are numerous alternative models for a social contract besides that of predatory capitalism. One is that of China, which “seeks to build a surveillance state so total that it becomes impossible for citizens to organize meaningful opposition,” and another is the cradle-to-grave welfare state of the Scandinavian nations. At the end of this evenhanded but decidedly liberal argument, the author advocates “killing off shareholder capitalism” and strengthening social safety nets.
A provocative, well-made case for remaking the American way of doing business—and way of life.