Books

| Reviews

The Betrayal of the American Dream

“. . . essential reading to anyone trying to make sense of our country's current malaise.”—Los Angeles Times

“The highly decorated investigative team of Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele return in their eighth book to their core topic, U.S. economic policy. But The Betrayal of the American Dream is no rerun. . . . Betrayal merits a careful read from anyone concerned about the nation’s economic future. . . . Barlett and Steele argue that Washington policymakers, Republican and Democratic alike, have collaborated with leaders on Wall Street to create an economy that caters only to the biggest multinational corporations and very wealthiest households, leaving most Americans and most U.S businesses to scrap for limited leftovers. Much of their information, including many of their most damning quotes and assessments, comes directly from government reports. In some cases, short-term gain sought by bankers and investors is the clearest problem. In others, simple shortsightedness is to blame. And in most, better-reasoned and fairer tax and trade policies and public investment would have prevented lots of pain, according to Barlett and Steele. They dissect one industry after another with the precision and narrative flair that have won them many awards, including two Pulitzers. . . .The writers conclude with a cogent plan for substantial, specific changes to rehabilitate the American dream and rescue the middle class.” — The Associated Press

“The ‘ruling class’ betraying middle Americans is a mix of politicians and special interests who’ve gamed the system on behalf of the richest Americans. Barlett and Steele address key elements of this betrayal (globalization, outsourcing, taxes, pensions, financial-sector dominance), then offer suggestions for reversing it, including progressive tax reform, fair trade, infrastructure investment, focused retraining, and criminal prosecution of white-collar criminals.” — Booklist ** starred review**

“Barlett and Steele’s preeminent talent is their knack for combining the micro and the macro. They look systemically at issues and policies, from the US tax code to healthcare. The questions they ask are both pragmatic (Does the system work?) and ideological (Who is benefiting, and at whose expense?). Their conclusions are buttressed by details gleaned from public records. But they also use the paper trail to track down the system’s apparent victims…the laid-off, the discarded, the pensionless, and the uninsured. . . . Here, Barlett and Steele lay out the factors responsible for middle-class decline — in effect, updating their iconic 1992 work, America: What Went Wrong?— Columbia Journalism Review

“The ostensibly willful destruction of the American middle class is laid bare in this villains and underdogs story from the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting duo…for folks bowled over by the recent financial meltdown, Barlett and Steele's book will resonate.” — Publishers Weekly

“. . . publication of The Betrayal of the American Dream during the home stretch of the national political campaign injects a provocative populist imperative into an increasingly intense and perhaps decisive partisan debate over the fate of the American middle class.” — Leonard Downie, Jr., former executive editor, The Washington Post