Who Stole the American Dream?

Who Stole The American Dream HCby Hedrick Smith, author of Who Stole the American Dream? (Random House, September 2012).

For years, hundreds of colleges, university, and high school courses have used my books, The Russians and The Power Game: How Washington Works, in their courses. Professors and teachers have trusted the quality of my reporting, research, and writing. Students have found my work readable and intellectually engaging.

My new book, Who Stole the American Dream?, is especially well suited for university courses and seminars and high school classrooms. It combines on-the-spot reporting and storytelling with academic-level research (more than 1,000 footnotes), making it both authoritative and highly readable. My thematic treatment of American political and economic history from the 1970s to the present would work well in interdisciplinary seminars as well as courses in government, economics, political science, public policy, journalism, and modern American history.

In The Russians, I took a generation of students inside the Soviet Union. In The Power Game, I took a second generation inside Washington’s corridors of power. Now, I am taking a third generation across America to show how seismic changes, sparked by landmark political and economic decisions, have transformed America over the past four decades. Drawing on fifty years of experience, I have pieced together a revealing and fascinating narrative, starting with Lewis Powell’s provocative 1971 memo that triggered a political rebellion, which permanently altered the landscape of power in Washington.

As The New York Review of Books observed, my book provides an important alternative to the conventional, market-based explanation of America’s transformation from the middle-class power and prosperity and political bipartisanship of the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s, to the gridlocked politics, starkly unequal democracy, and gaping economic inequalities of today.

“Hedrick Smith has done it again,” says Harvard Business School Professor Jay Lorsch. “Who Stole the American Dream? provides a readable and comprehensive account of how Americans have been robbed of our dream of a broad middle class over the past forty years. . . . It is essential reading.” Essential for students seeking to understand the evolution of contemporary America.

Among other things, my book documents the accidental beginnings of the 401(k) plan, with disastrous economic consequences for millions of Americans; the major policy changes that began under Jimmy Carter (before Ronald Reagan); how the New Economy disrupted America’s engine of shared prosperity, the “virtuous circle” of growth; and how America lost the title of “Land of Opportunity.” I describe the transfer of $6 trillion inmiddle-class wealth from homeowners to banks before the housing boomwent bust, and how the U.S. policy tilt favoring the rich is stunting America’s economic growth. I show how pivotal policies were altered while the public wasn’t looking, how Congress has often ignored public opinion, how America has lost the vital moderate center in politics, and how Wall Street has forged a symbiotic connection with Washington.

In lectures, my goal is to connect with college students. On two- or three-day campus residencies, I have enjoyed meeting with classes and student groups, leading discussions, enjoying give-and-take, sharing my reporting and life experience, even answering questions about career advice. These visits constitute my most rewarding experiences touring for the book. I look forward to the opportunity to visit your campus, and to connect with your students.

Hedrick Smith is a bestselling author, Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter, and Emmy Award–winning producer. His books The Russians and The Power Game were critically acclaimed bestsellers and are widely used in college courses today. As a reporter at The New York Times, Smith shared a Pulitzer for the Pentagon Papers series and won a Pulitzer for his international reporting from Russia in 1971–1974.


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