Pinched: How the Great Recession Has Narrowed Our Futures and What We Can Do About It

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The Great Recession is not done with us yet. While the most acute part of the economic crisis is past, the recession's most significant impact on American life still lies in the future. The personal, social, and cultural changes that result from severe economic shocks build and manifest themselves only slowly. But history shows us that, ultimately, shocks this severe profoundly alter the character of society.
 
Don Peck’s Pinched, a fascinating and harrowing exploration of our dramatic economic climate, keenly observes how the recession has changed the places we live, the work we do, and even who we are—and details the transformations that are yet to come.  Every class and every generation will be affected: newly minted college graduates, blue-collar men, affluent professionals, exurban families, elite financiers, inner city youth, middle-class retirees.
 
This was not an ordinary recession, and ordinary responses will not fully end it. The crash has shifted the course of the economy.  In its aftermath, the middle class is shrinking faster, wealth is becoming more concentrated, twenty-somethings are sinking, and working-class families and communities are changing in unsavory ways.
 
We sit today between two eras, buffeted, anxious, and uncertain of the future.  Through vivid reporting and lucid argument, Peck helps us make sense of how our society has changed, and why so many people are still struggling.
 
The answers to these questions reveal a new way forward for America.  The country has endured periods like this one before, and has emerged all the stronger from them; adaptation and reinvention have been perhaps the nation’s best and most enduring traits.  The time is ripe for another such reinvention.  Pinched lays out the principles and public actions that can help us pull it off.
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About the author

Don Peck is a Deputy Managing Editor at the Atlantic, where he has worked as an editor for six years. He covers economics and culture, among other subjects, and commissions many of the magazine’s feature stories.
 
Before he became a journalist, Mr. Peck was a principal at the Advisory Board Company, a large strategic research firm and management consultancy.  He has a B.A. in government modified with economics from Dartmouth College and a Masters of Public Affairs with a focus on international development from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.  He lives with his wife Meghan in Washington, DC.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Broadway Books
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Published on
Aug 9, 2011
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Pages
192
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ISBN
9780307886545
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economic Conditions
Political Science / Political Economy
Social Science / Social Classes & Economic Disparity
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The New York Times bestseller
A New York Times Notable and Critics’ Top Book of 2016
Longlisted for the PEN/John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction
One of NPR's 10 Best Books Of 2016 Faced Tough Topics Head On
NPR's Book Concierge Guide To 2016’s Great Reads
San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2016: 100 recommended books
A Washington Post Notable Nonfiction Book of 2016
Globe & Mail 100 Best of 2016

“Formidable and truth-dealing . . . necessary.” —The New York Times

“This eye-opening investigation into our country’s entrenched social hierarchy is acutely relevant.” —O Magazine

In her groundbreaking  bestselling history of the class system in America, Nancy Isenberg upends history as we know it by taking on our comforting myths about equality and uncovering the crucial legacy of the ever-present, always embarrassing—if occasionally entertaining—poor white trash.
 
“When you turn an election into a three-ring circus, there’s always a chance that the dancing bear will win,” says Isenberg of the political climate surrounding Sarah Palin. And we recognize how right she is today. Yet the voters who boosted Trump all the way to the White House have been a permanent part of our American fabric, argues Isenberg.

The wretched and landless poor have existed from the time of the earliest British colonial settlement to today's hillbillies. They were alternately known as “waste people,” “offals,” “rubbish,” “lazy lubbers,” and “crackers.” By the 1850s, the downtrodden included so-called “clay eaters” and “sandhillers,” known for prematurely aged children distinguished by their yellowish skin, ragged clothing, and listless minds.
 
Surveying political rhetoric and policy, popular literature and scientific theories over four hundred years, Isenberg upends assumptions about America’s supposedly class-free society––where liberty and hard work were meant to ensure real social mobility. Poor whites were central to the rise of the Republican Party in the early nineteenth century, and the Civil War itself was fought over class issues nearly as much as it was fought over slavery. Reconstruction pitted poor white trash against newly freed slaves, which factored in the rise of eugenics–-a widely popular movement embraced by Theodore Roosevelt that targeted poor whites for sterilization. These poor were at the heart of New Deal reforms and LBJ’s Great Society; they haunt us in reality TV shows like Here Comes Honey Boo Boo and Duck Dynasty. Marginalized as a class, white trash have always been at or near the center of major political debates over the character of the American identity.
 
We acknowledge racial injustice as an ugly stain on our nation’s history. With Isenberg’s landmark book, we will have to face the truth about the enduring, malevolent nature of class as well.
An instant New York Times bestseller, named a best book of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Amazon, and Entertainment Weekly, among others, this celebrated account of a young African-American man who escaped Newark, NJ, to attend Yale, but still faced the dangers of the streets when he returned is, “nuanced and shattering” (People) and “mesmeric” (The New York Times Book Review).

When author Jeff Hobbs arrived at Yale University, he became fast friends with the man who would be his college roommate for four years, Robert Peace. Robert’s life was rough from the beginning in the crime-ridden streets of Newark in the 1980s, with his father in jail and his mother earning less than $15,000 a year. But Robert was a brilliant student, and it was supposed to get easier when he was accepted to Yale, where he studied molecular biochemistry and biophysics. But it didn’t get easier. Robert carried with him the difficult dual nature of his existence, trying to fit in at Yale, and at home on breaks.

A compelling and honest portrait of Robert’s relationships—with his struggling mother, with his incarcerated father, with his teachers and friends—The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace encompasses the most enduring conflicts in America: race, class, drugs, community, imprisonment, education, family, friendship, and love. It’s about the collision of two fiercely insular worlds—the ivy-covered campus of Yale University and the slums of Newark, New Jersey, and the difficulty of going from one to the other and then back again. It’s about trying to live a decent life in America. But most all this “fresh, compelling” (The Washington Post) story is about the tragic life of one singular brilliant young man. His end, a violent one, is heartbreaking and powerful and “a haunting American tragedy for our times” (Entertainment Weekly).
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