Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy

Christopher Hayes. Crown, $26 (304p) ISBN 978-0-307-72045-0
Calling the decade of the 2000s the “fail decade,” Hayes, editor at large of the Nation and host of MSNBC’s Up w/ Chris Hayes, highlights the implosion of trusted American institutions—Enron, Wall Street, Congress, the Catholic Church, and Major League Baseball—tracing the origins of the present crisis of authority to our elite meritocracy. While the WASP establishment emphasized “humility, prudence and lineage,” the current meritocracy celebrates raw ambition, achievement, and brains, and it’s learned to embrace the alarming inequality that keeps its members near the top. The result, Hayes notes, is a society with extremely high and rising inequality, without social mobility, presided over by overachievers who enjoy tremendous financial and political clout, yet face no actual punishment for failing at their duties. The lively and well-informed Hayes warns that if we ignore our extreme inequality, those at the top become more prone to corruption, social isolation, and failure. As examples, he pinpoints the devastating effects of social distance that led to recent scandals and catastrophes: the fundamental gap between priests and the parishioners whose children were victimized; the disproportionate distance between the civilian elite and our soldiers; and during the financial crisis, the distance between those who were bailed out and those were not. Offering feasible proposals for change, this cogent social commentary urges us to reconstruct our institutions so we can once again trust them. Agent: Will Lippincott, Lippincott Massie McQuilkin. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/30/2012
Release date: 06/12/2012
Show other formats
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-449-01008-2
Compact Disc - 6 pages - 978-0-449-01005-1
Compact Disc - 978-0-449-01007-5
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-0-307-72046-7
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
Email Address


Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.