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Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History
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Random House Publishing Group 2020
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Description
When did America give up on fairness? The New York Times bestselling author of Fantasyland tells the epic history of how America decided that big business gets whatever it wants, only the rich get richer, and nothing should ever change—and charts a way back to the future. "The one book everyone must read as we figure out how to rebuild our country."—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo da VinciDuring the twentieth century, America managed to make its economic and social systems both more and more fair and more and more prosperous. A huge, secure, and contented middle class emerged. All boats rose together. But then the New Deal gave way to the Raw Deal. Beginning in the early 1970s, by means of a long war conceived of and executed by a confederacy of big business CEOs, the superrich, and right-wing zealots, the rules and norms that made the American middle class possible were undermined and dismantled. The clock was turned back on a century of economic progress, making greed good, workers powerless, and the market all-powerful while weaponizing nostalgia, lifting up an oligarchy that served only its own interests, and leaving the huge majority of Americans with dwindling economic prospects and hope.Why and how did America take such a wrong turn? In this deeply researched and brilliantly woven cultural, economic, and political chronicle, Kurt Andersen offers a fresh, provocative, and eye-opening history of America's undoing, naming names, showing receipts, and unsparingly assigning blame—to the radical right in economics and the law, the high priests of high finance, a complacent and complicit Establishment, and liberal "useful idiots," among whom he includes himself.Only a writer with Andersen's crackling energy, deep insight, and ability to connect disparate dots and see complex systems with clarity could make such a book both intellectually formidable and vastly entertaining. And only a writer of Andersen's vision could reckon with our current high-stakes inflection point, and show the way out of this man-made disaster.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
08/11/2020
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781984801364
ASIN:
B0852NXWR5
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APA Citation (style guide)

Kurt Andersen. (2020). Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Kurt Andersen. 2020. Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History. Random House Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Kurt Andersen, Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History. Random House Publishing Group, 2020.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Kurt Andersen. Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History. Random House Publishing Group, 2020. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText: Kurt Andersen is the bestselling author of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire and the novels Heyday, Turn of the Century, and True Believers. He contributes to Vanity Fair and The New York Times and was the host and co-creator of Studio 360, the Peabody Award–winning public radio show and podcast. He also writes for television, film, and the stage. Andersen co-founded Spy magazine, served as editor in chief of New York, and was a cultural columnist and critic for Time and The New Yorker. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College, where he was an editor of The Harvard Lampoon. He lives in Brooklyn.
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title
Evil Geniuses
fullDescription
When did America give up on fairness? The New York Times bestselling author of Fantasyland tells the epic history of how America decided that big business gets whatever it wants, only the rich get richer, and nothing should ever change—and charts a way back to the future.

"The one book everyone must read as we figure out how to rebuild our country."—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci
During the twentieth century, America managed to make its economic and social systems both more and more fair and more and more prosperous. A huge, secure, and contented middle class emerged. All boats rose together. But then the New Deal gave way to the Raw Deal. Beginning in the early 1970s, by means of a long war conceived of and executed by a confederacy of big business CEOs, the superrich, and right-wing zealots, the rules and norms that made the American middle class possible were undermined and dismantled. The clock was turned back on a century of economic progress, making greed good, workers powerless, and the market all-powerful while weaponizing nostalgia, lifting up an oligarchy that served only its own interests, and leaving the huge majority of Americans with dwindling economic prospects and hope.
Why and how did America take such a wrong turn? In this deeply researched and brilliantly woven cultural, economic, and political chronicle, Kurt Andersen offers a fresh, provocative, and eye-opening history of America's undoing, naming names, showing receipts, and unsparingly assigning blame—to the radical right in economics and the law, the high priests of high finance, a complacent and complicit Establishment, and liberal "useful idiots," among whom he includes himself.
Only a writer with Andersen's crackling energy, deep insight, and ability to connect disparate dots and see complex systems with clarity could make such a book both intellectually formidable and vastly entertaining. And only a writer of Andersen's vision could reckon with our current high-stakes inflection point, and show the way out of this man-made disaster.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        August 3, 2020
        In this sweeping jeremiad, journalist Andersen (coauthor, You Can’t Spell America Without Me) traces the origins of today’s economic inequality and political dysfunction to “the quite deliberate reengineering of our economy and society since the 1960s by a highly rational confederacy of the rich, the right, and big business.” This reengineering, Andersen contends, was aided and abetted by a more spontaneous cultural trend: “a wholesale national plunge into nostalgia” in TV (Happy Days), movies (Grease), music (Bruce Springsteen), and design (New Urbanism). Right-wing politicians and economists exploited this “nostalgia boom,” Andersen writes, by pitching regulatory rollbacks, tax cuts, and small government as a return to a more “rugged” and “frontiersy” America. Andersen also blames the Clinton administration’s deregulation of financial markets and the Supreme Court’s gutting of campaign finance laws for contributing to today’s “extreme insecurity and inequality,” and holds out tentative hope that the coronavirus pandemic and protests against racial injustice will shock the country out of its economic, political, and cultural stasis. Much of Andersen’s material will be familiar to newshounds, but he arranges it into a cohesive argument backed by hard data and stinging prose. Readers will get a clearer picture of how the U.S. got to where it is today.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        August 1, 2020
        How inequality happened in America. Journalist, editor, magazine founder (Spy, Inside), and host of the public radio broadcast "Studio 360," Andersen builds on the political and cultural critique he offered in his last book with a timely, hard-hitting analysis of America's "hijacked, screwed-up political economy." "Whereas Fantasyland concerned Americans' centuries-old weakness for the untrue and irrational, and its spontaneous and dangerous flowering since the 1960s," he writes, "Evil Geniuses chronicles the quite deliberate reengineering of our economy and society since the 1960s by a highly rational confederacy of the rich, the right, and big business." Synthesizing many works on capitalism, inequality, greed, and corruption, Andersen focuses on the "hyperselfishness" that took hold in the 1970s, when economic equality was "at its peak." What Tom Wolfe called the "Me Decade" extended beyond personal behavior to infect the nation's economy, leading to "strategizing, funding, propagandizing, mobilizing, lobbying, and institution-building" by big business, turning the U.S. political economy "into a winner-take-all casino economy." The author sees the '70s as a turning point in American life that gave rise to neoliberalism, a move toward deregulation of business, and a glorification of a culture of greed. "The anti-Establishment subjectivity and freedom to ignore experts and believe in make-believe that exploded in the '60s was normalized and spread during the '70s and beyond," he writes (especially during Reagan's presidency) and is in evidence today in a mistrust of government--regulations, taxes, oversight--and a nostalgia for some imagined, stable past. Andersen believes that change can occur, unrelated to partisan politics: He urges Americans to push for "goals that can seem radical--lots more power for workers and average citizens, optimizing the economy for all Americans rather than maximizing it for rich ones and corporations--but then being nondoctrinaire about how we achieve the goals." A rousing call for desperately needed systemic transformation.

        COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        August 28, 2020

        Since the 1980s, many national business policies and judicial rulings have been dictated by evil geniuses who have restructured the economy to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the disappearing middle class and the growing number of poor, writes Andersen (Fantasyland). The past four decades have seen large-scale job loss, numerous mergers, easy loans, high interest rates, and the demise of unions further exacerbated by globalization and technology. President Ronald Reagan reigned over this pro-business era, yet he was supported by neoliberals who believed the economic pendulum had swung too far left. Since the 1990s, Andersen claims, a new class of poorly paid service workers, whose purpose is to tend to the wealthy, has replaced much of the middle class. Andersen's deeply researched investigation concludes hopefully that the current plutocratic era has run its course, and that citizens are capable of doing the hard work of challenging economic inequality. VERDICT The captivating narrative is at times slowed by a plethora of statistics and data, yet overall, is an illuminating investigation of post-1960s U.S. economic history that will engage readers of contemporary politics. See Rick Perlstein's Reaganland for a detailed narrative of Reagan's role in the nation's shift to the right and his advocacy of pro-business governance.--Karl Helicher, formerly with Upper Merion Twp. Lib., King of Prussia, PA

        Copyright 2020 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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shortDescription
When did America give up on fairness? The New York Times bestselling author of Fantasyland tells the epic history of how America decided that big business gets whatever it wants, only the rich get richer, and nothing should ever change—and charts a way back to the future.

"The one book everyone must read as we figure out how to rebuild our country."—Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci
During the twentieth century, America managed to make its economic and social systems both more and more fair and more and more prosperous. A huge, secure, and contented middle class emerged. All boats rose together. But then the New Deal gave way to the Raw Deal. Beginning in the early 1970s, by means of a long war conceived of and executed by a confederacy of big business CEOs, the superrich, and right-wing zealots, the rules and norms that made the American middle class possible were undermined and dismantled....
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