Book Discovery: Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America's Fifty-Year Fall—and Those Fight
The BookWalker's Top Pick titles includes works of bestselling authors and emerging writers. Titles were selected and voted by our staff. Please note: the selection process is heavily biased but fairly influenced by personal preference and the editor's opinions.
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.
This is the story
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 center, and millions of Americans gripped by apathy and hopelessness. By examining the people and forces behind the rise of big-money lobbying, legal and financial engineering, the demise of private-sector unions, and a hamstrung bureaucracy, Brill answers the question on everyone's mind: How did we end up this way?
Finally, he introduces us to those working quietly and effectively to repair the damages. At once a diagnosis of our national ills, a history of their development, and a prescription for a brighter future, Tailspin is a work of riveting journalism--and a welcome antidote to political despair.
Reviews and What Readers Say
" Persuasive, bracing . . . an essential read if you want to understand the pressures that have brought a sclerotic Uncle Sam to his knees."
―Alexander C. Kafka, Los Angeles Review of Books
“ Tailspin distinguishes itself within the America Gone Wrong genre . . . All of the book’s chapters on the law crackle with energy . . . In a downbeat era, Tailspin offers some modest ammunition for hope. ”
―Daniel W. Drezner, The New York Times Book Review
" Steven Brill's Tailspin does precisely what the daily torrent of news does not: make sense. The book is nothing less than a unified (and persuasive) theory of everything—including politics, business, culture—and it even includes several glimmers of hope amid the pervasive darkness." ―Jeffrey Toobin, author of American Heiress
"A penetrating and personal examination of why the United States is in the midst of a nervous breakdown. But with his fantastically reported story, Brill also shows how—and who—might restore some common sense and equilibrium.”
“ Brill's perceptive analysis about how the cult of meritocracy has tragically created an entrenched elite who are determined to defend their moats—and make themselves, rather than America, "great"—should challenge us all. The analysis is meticulously detailed and sourced, building on Brill's long career in investigative journalism. However, Brill shows how groups in America are trying to fight back, in all manner of grassroots ways, making the book also a manifesto for practical change and a rallying cry for everyone who wants to rebuild America."
―Gillian Tett, author of Fool’s Gold and U.S. Managing Editor of The Financial Times
"A compelling, surprising narrative about the unlikely people and forces responsible for the dashing of the American dream—and an uplifting look at those working to restore it."
―Jill Abramson, former executive editor, The New York Times
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STEVEN BRILL has written for The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, New York, and Fortune. He founded and ran Court TV, The American Lawyer magazine, ten regional legal newspapers, and Brill's Content magazine. Brill was the author of Time's March 4, 2013, special report "Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us," for which he won the 2014 National Magazine Award for Public Service, and of the 2015 bestseller America's Bitter Pill. He has regularly appeared as an expert analyst on NBC, CBS, and CNN. He teaches journalism at Yale, where he founded the Yale Journalism Initiative to enable talented young people to become journalists. In 2018, he co-founded NewsGuard, which rates the legitimacy of online news sites. He lives in New York City.