Kiernan (Becoming China's Bitch) chronicles, in highly entertaining fashion, the American middle class's rise over the course of the 20th century, as well as its currently imperiled state. Observing that "80% of the world's purchasing power, 92% of the world's economic growth, and 95% of the world's consumers" are now outside the U.S., Kiernan asks whether Americans are in danger of being left behind. Each chapter begins with the story of a person who participated, and in some cases played a key part, in the progress of the American middle class, from the potato magnate who made McDonald's possible, to Betty Friedan and her contribution to unleashing the economic potential of American women. The stories touch on many topics, including the post-WWII housing boom, the economic impacts of racism, the culture war's origins in the late 1960s, and Reaganomics. The book would have benefited from less grandiose prose—at one point, Kiernan pronounces his narrative "an unabashed love story about struggle, triumph, and moments of despair." But overall, this is a riveting read that sets out not to draw definite solutions from past successes and failures, but to educate the general readership with storytelling. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/27/2015 Release date: 06/01/2015 Genre: Nonfiction
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