Read Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America's Fifty-Year Fall–and Those Fighting to Reverse It by Steven Brill Online

Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America's Fifty-Year Fall–and Those Fighting to Reverse It

From the award-winning journalist and best-selling author of America's Bitter Pill: a tour de force examination of 1) how and why major American institutions no longer serve us as they should, causing a deep rift between the vulnerable majority and the protected few, and 2) how some individuals and organizations are laying the foundation for real, lasting change.In this revelatory narrative covering the years 1967 to 2017, Steven Brill gives us a stunningly cogent picture of the broken system at the heart of our society. He shows us how, over the last half-century, America's core values--meritocracy, innovation, due process, free speech, and even democracy itself--have somehow managed to power its decline into dysfunction. They have isolated our best and brightest, whose positions at the top have never been more secure or more remote. The result has been an erosion of responsibility and accountability, an epidemic of shortsightedness, an increasingly hollow economic and political cente...

Title : Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America's Fifty-Year Fall–and Those Fighting to Reverse It
Author :
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ISBN : 37649549
Format Type : Kindle Edition
Number of Pages : 464 pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America's Fifty-Year Fall–and Those Fighting to Reverse It Reviews

  • Gaby Chapman

    How we got to the state we're in--extreme income inequality, ineffective federal government. crumbling infrastructure etc.-- and signs we might be able to get out.

  • Ben

    The subtitle of Tailspin promises a very comprehensive book, one that covers the causes of problems and their solutions. Brill comes up short of the promised comprehensive, critical analysis but produces a thoroughly researched book that has lots of detail about the ways in which America is failing (according to Brill's standards) and how it got to that point.

    Brill roots his hypothesis in an interesting place: the movement toward meritocracy and away from cronyism and aristocracy. Leaning heavi

    "Those with blue-chip college degrees...had always gone in large numbers to work at prestige banks, businesses, consultancies and law firms. Now the ones who flocked there were more likely to be talented and tougher -- because they were more likely to have gotten there through brains and hard work, not connections. They would be better at winning, and better at building moats to protect their winnings."


    This is a pretty interesting idea and one Brill does a convincing job of defending. He argues that basing society around meritocracy had the unintended effect of turning many previously "collegial" arenas into competitions -- such as law where a new generation of super-lawyers would find ways to bend society's rules. Once elites had the ability to defend their position not just through privilege but also through skill, Brill argues many other functions of a equitable society fell apart.

    "Those who have thrived in the post-1970s world of the new meritocracy, the casino economy, the marginalized middle class, and the dominance of political money are not interested in the Bipartisan Policy Center's solutions. They are more concerned with what the government can do to them than for them. A minimum wage law means that they have to pay more, not that they earn more... Tougher government regulation to protect consumers or to rein in Wall Street would constrain, not protect them."


    I really do not have many quarrels with Brill's general take, but he does a much poorer job identifying real solutions. The title promises to also cover "those fighting to reverse it," but in practice this mostly means each chapter ends with a few pages profiling some random person and/or nonprofit organization tackling the problem in question. Some of these are interesting community-based approaches that may or may not be scalable. Some are broad approaches with no evidence they will ever get traction. After the (otherwise good) chapter on Congressional hyperpartisanship, Brill spends about one page on a group called the Bipartisan Policy Center, pointlessly concluding that its work has been wholly ignored.

    This is emblematic of Tailspin's main limitation, which is that it is reporting, not analysis. Brill writes as though readers need information about what the problems are and how they came to be, not information or insight into how to solve them or how complex solutions might be. For instance, Brill talks about America's inability to recruit enough teachers and compensate them well enough. Later, he points out America's falling academic achievement and haphazardly offers that one solution could be doing away with summer vacations, which of course are one of the best benefits of becoming a teacher. At no point in the entire book is attention spent on the possibility that a solution to one problem may be a contributor to another.

    Perhaps most egregiously, the book never actually challenges its most central hypothesis. What would be the ramifications of a modern society that does not operate through a meritocracy? Is this desirable? Admittedly this is a huge moral question, but one that Brill's own book would suggest we should already be tackling. ...more

  • Michael Perkins

    Feeding the populist bonfire.....

    "Following the Great Recession, the recovery passed over most of America. Incomes for the top 1 percent rose 31.4 percent from 2009 to 2012, but crept up a barely noticeable .4 percent for the bottom 99 percent. The moats built by those who were largely responsible for the Great Recession, or at least prospered in the run-up to the crash, worked. They survived the damage suffered by everyone else."

    A key to the thesis of the book is that the divide is not between
    ...more

  • Aleksandar Totic

    Chronicle of ways America is broken

    I was hoping for for more from Mr. Brill.

    Author describes 10? ways in which American society is broken. He knows the how did it break, and who did it, and describes this in detail. But I found myself longing for answers to bigger questions: why were things better for middle class before? And were 50s really the American pinnacle?

    There is lots of looking back, descriptions of brokenness, very little on how to fix it.

    After couple of hours,I found myself speed r
    ...more

  • Susan

    As an aging baby boomer I spend time trying desperately to figure out how we got here. From my senior year in HS with Kent State and heading off to college believing women had equal rights and willing to push for more - how did we get here with Roe v Wade possibly being overturned? How did we get here with children being taken from parents at the Mexican border? How did we get here with pharmaceuticals being advertised for off label uses without consequences ? How did we get here with Congress p ...more

  • Boone Bolinder

    Mr Brill does a fantastic job explaining the problems inherent in our current system without demonizing those that are at the top. They are not evil, only trying to do what is best for themselves. Maybe a bit too anti republican at times, but generally seems unbiased and interested in discovering the truth.

  • Richard Nelson

    If you feel like America has been on a steady downward trajectory your whole life (and if you don’t, you’re probably extremely wealthy and able to ignore a lot), this book explains why that is and what has to happen to change it. A depressing read; you can know in your gut that things are badly broken and yet be shocked again and again by just how broken they really are. Without quite saying so, Brill seems to be arguing that all the pieces necessary for renewal are in place—America simply needs ...more

  • Snotnose

    This is a book more people should read. We all know things aren't working for the majority of us, this book explains why, and how we got here. Want to know why it takes 80 pages for the army to specify a chocolate chip cookie? This book tells you why.