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. “Hedrick Smith has done it again! Who Stole the American Dream? provides a readable and comprehensive account of how Americans have been robbed of our dream of a broad middle class over the past forty years. It is essential reading.”—Jay W. Lorsch, the Louis E. Kirstein Professor of Human Relations, Harvard Business School
Praise for Who Stole the American Dream?
“Sweeping in scope … [Smith] posits some steps that could alleviate the problems of the United States.”—USA Today
“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
“Who stole the American Dream? The short answer to the question in the title of Hedrick Smith’s new book is: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Wal-Mart. But the longer answer is one heck of a story, told by one of the great journalists of our time. In his sweeping, authoritative examination of the last four decades of the American economic experience, Smith describes the long, relentless decline of the middle class—a decline that was not by accident, but by design. He dates it back to a private memo—in effect, a political call to arms—issued to the nation's business leaders in 1971 by Lewis F. Powell, Jr … Smith [achieves] extraordinary clarity in describing this sometimes obscured narrative arc.”—Nieman Reports
“Remarkably comprehensive and coherent analysis of and prescriptions for America’s contemporary economic malaise by Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Smith … 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. … fascinating detail … brilliant analyses.”
—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“A strong, effective liberal indictment of things as they are.”—Publisher’s Weekly
“Here now is the terrible story of how the so-called New Economy destroyed the many credos and practices that once pushed and prodded the American way of life. Hedrick Smith gives names, dates and actions behind the transformation from a corporate and financial culture driven by shared wealth to one of CEO/ownership greed. Read it and weep with profound sadness and then scream with red-faced anger. It seems almost too tame to call it simply a book. It is an indictment that is as stinging, stunning and important as any ever handed down by a grand jury.”
“Hedrick Smith has done it again! “Who Stole the American Dream” provides a readable and comprehensive account of how Americans have been robbed of our dream of a broad middle class over the past forty years. It is essential reading.”
—Jay W. Lorsch, Harvard Business School
""Hedrick Smith is a clear thinker and a great writer who has done a terrific job chronicling the increasing disarray in the once powerful social compact between America's middle class and our business and political leadership. Smith also presents an American ""Marshall Plan"" which is a solid road map for recovery from the results of failed business, media, and political leadership of the last thirty years.""
—Howard Dean, former Governor of Vermont, former DNC Chairman
Praise for Hedrick Smith’s The Power Game
“Knowledgeable and informative . . . may be the most sweeping and in many ways most impressive portrait of the culture of the federal government to appear in a single work in many decades.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Succeeds brilliantly . . . provides a virtual encyclopedia of contemporary power techniques, something power aficionados everywhere are sure to savor.”—Fortune
From the Hardcover edition.