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Old 12-20-2016, 05:10 PM   #26
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Good idea for thread. I will post more later.
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Old 12-28-2016, 01:17 PM   #27
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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I had to do a lot of it through audiobook. I got lucky that Amazon had a kindle sale on the book for 2 dollars and then they give a discount of the audible audiobook if you have the kindle book so all and all it came out to 5 dollars.

With a kid and a house I don't get an hour to myself much less the hours it would take to read a large book so I'm always looking for audio books that I can listen to while I'm doing other things.
This is for anyone, but I'm considering trying audio books. I've never listened to one. I would like to be able to listen on my android phone, perhaps using a cord that connects the phone to a thumb drive.

Any suggestions? There seem to be a lot of "free" audio books. Is that all pirating? Is there some difference in format between mp3 and audible? The audio books on audible are expensive - they seem to cost more than the hardcover copies! Are the free public domain audio books just really abridged and horrible? There seems to be a ton of good stuff at loyalbooks.
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Old 12-28-2016, 07:56 PM   #28
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Do you still have a CD player in your work truck? If so, check your library. I have a ****ty little local library and even they have a couple hundred audio books on CD.

Plus that free copy of Jimmy Carter's White House Diary is still available!
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Old 12-28-2016, 08:40 PM   #29
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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Do you still have a CD player in your work truck? If so, check your library. I have a ****ty little local library and even they have a couple hundred audio books on CD.

Plus that free copy of Jimmy Carter's White House Diary is still available!
CD player in the truck doesn't work.

Thinking about sometimes when I'm working and also I walk the dog pretty much every day. Although it may not be wise or possible to give up my daydreaming and talking to myself time.
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Old 12-28-2016, 08:48 PM   #30
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Time for a new truck!
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Old 12-29-2016, 03:20 AM   #31
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

The Dictator's Handbook: Why Bad Behavior is Almost Always Good Politics by Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith.

I'm not good at reviewing books. But I really like this one. Below is CPG Grey video based on this book which gives you a good idea of what this book is about. The book is much better than the video.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rStL7niR7gs&t=101s
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:16 AM   #32
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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This is for anyone, but I'm considering trying audio books. I've never listened to one. I would like to be able to listen on my android phone, perhaps using a cord that connects the phone to a thumb drive.

Any suggestions? There seem to be a lot of "free" audio books. Is that all pirating? Is there some difference in format between mp3 and audible? The audio books on audible are expensive - they seem to cost more than the hardcover copies! Are the free public domain audio books just really abridged and horrible? There seems to be a ton of good stuff at loyalbooks.
Ok I asked the young 'uns at work for you. If one of your local libraries lends digital audio books you are in luck. Just need to find one (or more) and make sure you have a library card set up with them.

Install app called "OverDrive" on your phone. Somehow or other you verify your library account on the app. Presto, you can borrow whatever they have available and listen on your phone for free.

https://www.overdrive.com/

No doubt there are other apps also...

I'm going to set this up too when I have time.
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:28 AM   #33
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

I drive ~8-hour car trips four times a year and I always have audiobooks on during the drive. Any local library should have 'em on CD for free, plus the aforementioned digital libraries are an option.

Might also consider downloading a bunch of podcasts.
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:38 AM   #34
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Thanks. I don't think my library has anything other than CDs or tapes for audio books but I will look into it. Yesterday I downloaded sections of "The History of the Decline of the Roman Empire" from the free public domain site and started listening to it when I walked the dog. That book may not be the best kind of choice, but I did end up into it enough that I walked a little farther to listen to more.
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:55 AM   #35
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

I did a quick zipcode search from the OverDrive link, and even some of the little redneck libraries around me have digital audio books to lend. I would be shocked if there wasn't a good selection around you.

You can also usually get cards for any decent regional/city libraries without residing in town. (I'm sure you know that, but just in case.)
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Old 12-29-2016, 11:59 AM   #36
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

I mostly get books at the library and it's one of the biggest library systems in the world (Los Angeles County Public Library) so I reckon they'll have it then. Thanks.
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Old 12-29-2016, 09:30 PM   #37
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

It's been recommended before in Politics, but Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcasts are well worth a listen. His style is to talk a bit about what it would have been like to live through the events, rather than just recounting what happened. He does in-depth multi-part series on some subjects which are audiobook length, I much prefer them to the standalone eps. I can recommend Punic Nightmares (about the Rome-Carthage wars), Ghosts of the Ostfront (the Eastern Front in WW2), Wrath of the Khans (the Mongol Conquests) and - maybe not quite so good, it's a bit overlong - Death Throes of the Republic (the decline and fall of the Roman Republic). I'm now halfway through King of Kings, about the Achaemenid Persian Empire, which is a bit meh if I'm honest, mostly because the history of the period is so uncertain and Dan keeps saying "here's what Herodotus says, who knows if this is true though". I've heard his WW1 series "Blueprint for Armageddon" is good too, that's next on the list.

Having a good narrator in audiobooks/podcasts is a huge plus. Dan recommended a book called The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan, about the Battle of Berlin. It's narrated by a guy called Simon Vance, I've listened to his stuff before and highly recommend him. Haven't listened to the above book yet though.
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Old 12-29-2016, 09:58 PM   #38
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

LA county should allow you to get audio books or e-books from their website if you have a library card with them. Don't even need to drive off to the physical library.
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Old 12-29-2016, 10:11 PM   #39
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Yeah, once he authenticates his card on that app I posted, he can check books out directly to his phone anywhere he has a web connection.
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Old 12-29-2016, 10:31 PM   #40
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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It's been recommended before in Politics, but Dan Carlin's Hardcore History podcasts are well worth a listen. His style is to talk a bit about what it would have been like to live through the events, rather than just recounting what happened. He does in-depth multi-part series on some subjects which are audiobook length, I much prefer them to the standalone eps. I can recommend Punic Nightmares (about the Rome-Carthage wars), Ghosts of the Ostfront (the Eastern Front in WW2), Wrath of the Khans (the Mongol Conquests) and - maybe not quite so good, it's a bit overlong - Death Throes of the Republic (the decline and fall of the Roman Republic). I'm now halfway through King of Kings, about the Achaemenid Persian Empire, which is a bit meh if I'm honest, mostly because the history of the period is so uncertain and Dan keeps saying "here's what Herodotus says, who knows if this is true though". I've heard his WW1 series "Blueprint for Armageddon" is good too, that's next on the list.

Having a good narrator in audiobooks/podcasts is a huge plus. Dan recommended a book called The Last Battle by Cornelius Ryan, about the Battle of Berlin. It's narrated by a guy called Simon Vance, I've listened to his stuff before and highly recommend him. Haven't listened to the above book yet though.
Blueprint for Armageddon is AWESOME.
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:11 AM   #41
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Yeah, I'm sure I'll like it a lot. Ghosts of the Ostfront is probably my fave so far.

The whole thing has definitely inspired me to learn more about pre-modern history. History is a bit like politics (or like everything, arguably) in that you need a rich context. We can explain a political fact to a normie and then a week later they will have forgotten it because there's no context to drop it into. For instance, I have no clue when Henry VIII reigned. I could look up that fact and learn it, but I'd quickly forget it. But if I know that Henry VIII reigned alongside the beginning of Protestantism, then I can place that in time if I know when Luther was alive. Unfortunately I don't know that either. Once you start establishing connections like that though, eventually it reaches a critical mass where you have an existing framework of knowledge that you can drop new information into. At that point learning accelerates massively. So I'm currently seeking to put together a basic framework in my mind of when things happened. I'm working my way through the first millennium BC at the moment. Did you know Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Greek philosophy all kicked off in the same century?
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Old 12-30-2016, 12:28 AM   #42
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

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Yeah, I'm sure I'll like it a lot. Ghosts of the Ostfront is probably my fave so far.

The whole thing has definitely inspired me to learn more about pre-modern history. History is a bit like politics (or like everything, arguably) in that you need a rich context. We can explain a political fact to a normie and then a week later they will have forgotten it because there's no context to drop it into. For instance, I have no clue when Henry VIII reigned. I could look up that fact and learn it, but I'd quickly forget it. But if I know that Henry VIII reigned alongside the beginning of Protestantism, then I can place that in time if I know when Luther was alive. Unfortunately I don't know that either. Once you start establishing connections like that though, eventually it reaches a critical mass where you have an existing framework of knowledge that you can drop new information into. At that point learning accelerates massively. So I'm currently seeking to put together a basic framework in my mind of when things happened. I'm working my way through the first millennium BC at the moment. Did you know Confucianism, Taoism, Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism and Greek philosophy all kicked off in the same century?
Judiasm was basically put down on paper for the first time that century too. The tribe/people way predated that and there were oral traditions, but a lot of the Torah/Old Testament was first written during the Babylonian captivity.

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Old 12-30-2016, 01:02 AM   #43
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Axial_Age

My thought for the moment is that something happened advancing the techniques or technology of writing, not necessarily just physical, but having to do with the software side of writing as well, and that it became possible for people to write down and build upon complicated stories and ideas.
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Old 12-31-2016, 01:56 AM   #44
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

American Dreamer - A life of Henry A. Wallace by John C. Culver and John Hyde

This is a 530 page book that chronicles the energetic, varied and productive life of a farmer, newspaper editor, agricultural scientist, statistician, Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, the most powerful Vice President in the history of the United States up until that point, Secretary of the Department of Commerce, and Third Party Presidential Candidate. It might seem that the agriculture part would be boring, but it wasn't. As a boy he pioneered cross-breeding of corn and developed hybrids with dramatically improved yields and he spread those varieties around the world. If you google "father of the green revolution" you get Nobel Peace Prize winning agronomist Norman Borlaug, but if you asked Norman he credited Wallace. Even after being more or less driven from political life by McCarthyism, Wallace returned to agriculture where he bred thousands of chickens and experimented with strawberries and corn. And with great success:

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His chickens came to dominate the world. Hy-line chickens a subsidiary of Pioneer Hi-bred at one point accounted for about three-quarters of all egg-laying poultry sold commercially worldwide.
As Secretary of Agriculture during the New Deal he developed programs which helped ease the cycle of bankruptcy and soil depletion across the country.

He was not naturally a public person, but as a result of his work for internationalism, trade, the welfare of people all around the world, racial equality, and the conviction that America could lead the world to a prosperous future for "the common man" he became enormously popular world-wide. He toured Latin America and in Chile drew a million people.

He earned the sobriquet "dreamer" and "mystic" because, despite being an ardent Christian, he at times associated with weirdo religious guru types. Despite being a businessman and self-described "Progressive Capitalist" by virtue of campaigning for not having a cold war and believing that we were possibly setting a course for a horrific hot war with the Soviet Union and not purging people with communist ties during the McCarthy witch-hunts he was vilified by many, some of whom were close to him in the past.

There is a lot of political intrigue and insight into party bosses, looks at Roosevelt, Truman, Cordell Hull, Churchill and many other prominent figures. The book is well written and facts are well cited. The notes are often interesting and shouldn't be skipped. Of the authors, Culver was a Congressman and Senator from Iowa (Wallace's home state) and Hyde was a journalist. The following is a blurb from John Kenneth Galbraith

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Roosevelt alone excepted, Henry Wallace was the most interesting and in many ways the most effective of all New Dealers. . . . Under Wallace as Secretary, the Department of Agriculture became the economic and political focus of the New Deal...This book, by two admirably informed authors, wonderfully researched and very well written, is an indispensable document on both the man and the time. It truly holds one's attention from beginning to end.
The only thing I'd add is: Henry Wallace was a straight up BOSS
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Old 01-03-2017, 01:58 AM   #45
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

I listened to Problems of Philosophy - Bertrand Russell as my first audio book. No review really since it's not politics. I'll just say that it's probably not the best book for an audio book, I'm not *that* into philosophy, but wanted to hear/read some Bertrand Russell, and although it's kind of both "duh, that's really obvious" and kind of incomprehensible (or seems that way to a relative novice), it's way more clear than the German philosopers like Heidegger who talked about some of the same things (quite possibly having to do with language and translation - and this book is just kind of an intro). Anyway, it's a little political as far as I'm thinking because I'm curious about the evolution of modern political thinking and I think rationalism vs. empiricism plays a role.
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Old 01-13-2017, 03:23 AM   #46
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Theory of the Leisure Class - Thornstein Veblen 1899

Reading a number of people who have cited Veblen as an influence led me to this "classic" criticism of capitalism. I put "classic" in quotes here as it was mentioned at the end of the book, which I just finished, that "classic" is generally a marker of something which is mostly a waste of time and hence a mark of high repute. I want to say that indeed it was a waste of time, but only about 80% of the time was wasted. There's a lot of very valid criticism which probably didn't seem cliche at the time, but the book is horrendously repetitive.

I'm not going to go into a general outline of his theories because that is better detailed in the wiki page anyway. The criticisms, though claimed to be only economic and not moral, are often harsh or spiteful. Rarely, this produces something entertaining such as this screed on the conspicuous waste of dogs and especially the breeding of decorator dogs.

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The dog has advantages in the way of uselessness as well as in special gifts of temperament. He is often spoken of, in an eminent sense, as the friend of man, and his intelligence and fidelity are praised. The meaning of this is that the dog is man’s servant and that he has the gift of an unquestioning subservience and a slave’s quickness in guessing his master’s mood. Coupled with these traits, which fit him well for the relation of status — and which must for the present purpose be set down as serviceable traits — the dog has some characteristics which are of a more equivocal aesthetic value. He is the filthiest of the domestic animals in his person and the nastiest in his habits. For this he makes up is a servile, fawning attitude towards his master, and a readiness to inflict damage and discomfort on all else. The dog, then, commends himself to our favor by affording play to our propensity for mastery, and as he is also an item of expense, and commonly serves no industrial purpose, he holds a well-assured place in men’s regard as a thing of good repute. The dog is at the same time associated in our imagination with the chase — a meritorious employment and an expression of the honorable predatory impulse. Standing on this vantage ground, whatever beauty of form and motion and whatever commendable mental traits he may possess are conventionally acknowledged and magnified. And even those varieties of the dog which have been bred into grotesque deformity by the dog-fancier are in good faith accounted beautiful by many. These varieties of dogs — and the like is true of other fancy-bred animals — are rated and graded in aesthetic value somewhat in proportion to the degree of grotesqueness and instability of the particular fashion which the deformity takes in the given case. For the purpose in hand, this differential utility on the ground of grotesqueness and instability of structure is reducible to terms of a greater scarcity and consequent expense. The commercial value of canine monstrosities, such as the prevailing styles of pet dogs both for men’s and women’s use, rests on their high cost of production, and their value to their owners lies chiefly in their utility as items of conspicuous consumption. In directly, through reflection Upon their honorific expensiveness, a social worth is imputed to them; and so, by an easy substitution of words and ideas, they come to be admired and reputed beautiful.
There's much in common with Marxism (which I'm no expert in) in that the forces of history have driven human society towards class exploitation. I can see someone reading this and taking it as extremely anti-individualist and showing disdain for what is not directly productive. This combination seems like something that could lead one to a feeling that a person's only value is in producing...for the whole or the state. I'm not sure if that's meant as a prescription, and in fact it's indirectly claimed that it's not, or if it's just the way economists tend to sound.

Evolutionary theory is clearly influential and there are sections that hint at late 20th century Evolutionary Psychology. He addresses a wide array of social and economic realms like fashion, sports, education, religion, finance, industry, and government. But, in each topic there are a lot of statements of his observations, cautions that they aren't always true, and repetition. There are very few examples, and fewer interesting examples, little description of the reasoning and virtually no support. That said, I think most of his observations are accurate - in fact many seem patently obvious though maybe they didn't at the time. Looking back at my review I find it to be somewhat repetitive which seems appropriate so I won't edit it.
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Old 01-13-2017, 12:53 PM   #47
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

Just picked up Dark Money and will report back when finished. I agree this a good idea for a thread.
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Old 01-14-2017, 10:56 AM   #48
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

ISIS : State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J. M. Berger

Two expert on jihadism write a book about ISIS. There's not a lot here that you wouldn't know if you keep up with ISIS by reading any news report on the history of ISIS, which is too bad. They go through the history and tactics of ISIS but I would have expected them to go more in depth and situate ISIS in the history of jihadism, it's growth, ideas, etc. They don't really do that.

One thing they do discuss that I thought was interesting was debate on whether or not to ban jihadists from social media. One side of the debate says that we learn important intel from these people and since they are highly motivated they'll keep finding ways around the block ( the wack a mole theory). These two actually tried to be objective about it. They counted as many twitter jihadists as they could using a set of criteria, watched as twitter wave of bannings would occur, and then try and count jihadists accounts again. They found that each time the number of accounts would diminish and the time of recuperation of setting up the same audience took longer. Their social media networks continued to degrade even with a dedicated crew trying to get around the bans.

ISIS would try and counteract this by switching social media but once they moved away from the big networks like twitter, facebook and youtube, they couldn't a large audience. They ended up talking only to themselves.

The authors take from this the fact that banning jihadists from social media does, in fact, work.
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Old 01-14-2017, 11:00 AM   #49
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Ok I guess my Jimmy Carter audio book on CD is going to have to go into a book sharing community box in the PR of Cambridge. Someone in Cambridge will surely want it!
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Old 01-14-2017, 05:38 PM   #50
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Re: Politics Book Review Thread

The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America by George Packer

At first I was irritated at this book because I was expecting a more academic book dissecting what we kind of know has been going on. Because of globalization, weakening union membership, more winner take all markets inequality has shot up, leaving many behind while a few people get rich.

Instead what I got was a series of ethnographies. I didn't get this book to hear the story of a person getting laid off from the mill in the 1970's as the mills moved overseas, I already knew that. But slowly the series of ethnographies worked into a kind of novel and, like a novel, you get invested in the characters. Slowly the ethnographies ran into each other, bounced off of each other, ran on opposite sides of the issues and continued from the 70's, through the 80s,90s, and 2000's ending with Obama's second inaugural. You watch children grow up, parents lose their jobs because of the economic changes, take other jobs, or fail, or succeed, while others took advantage of the new economic situation and flourished.

Unlike Matt Taibbi's books that's designed to outrage you about inequality this one treats everyone with some respect so that there isn't an easy lesson to take from it. Those who were more well off got there for reasons. They weren't simply "the rich" and those who failed in this new America continuously tried to get better instead of being simply human failures.

There are biographies from Oprah, Peter Thiel, Jay Z, Obama, Gingrich, but also Wall Street traders, poor white families trying to make it, union workers turned activists after GE destroyed their union, Tea Party activists, biodiesel entrepreneurs, A "Biden man", etc

One small paragraph that grabbed my attention was when the author was describing a family whose parents didn't have a high school diplomas. Paraphrasing he said they loved each other, none of them smoked or drank, they were never going to separate, and they all wanted to do better and by conventional morality that would have been enough to keep them afloat in the old America. Not in the new America. I thought that was a nice turn of phrase.

Anyways, I would recommend this book if you're looking for less political analysis and are more in the mood for a novel like book that captures the texture of what the last 30 years of economic events feels like to the actual people who grew up in it.

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