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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  116 Ratings  ·  41 Reviews
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 re
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Kindle Edition, 464 pages
Published May 29th 2018 by Knopf
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Gary Moreau
May 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brill’s is one of a gazillion recent books that addresses the question, what happened to America? That it’s broken, we all know, even if we don’t always admit it to ourselves.

This book, however, really is different. Brill is one of the few authors who has the legal and financial expertise to really get it right. And that he does. The problem is not social, political, racial, or patriarchal (although the latter two are real problems that must be addressed). The problem is economic. In short, the
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David Wineberg
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Medieval moats updated

For Steven Brill, “America has increasingly become a Moat Nation, producing a parade of unfair advantages for those with the resources to deploy the knowledge workers to build and fortify their moats while contributing to the overall decline of the country.” The protected classes – the rich, the corporations and the lobbyists – keep building their moats wider and deeper, at the very real expense of the rest of us. They are untouchable, while we become untouchable castes. Th
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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
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Susan
Jul 01, 2018 added it
Shelves: books-read-2018
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
Bryan Alexander
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Tailspin is journalist Steven Brill's attempt to determine what's recently gone wrong in America.

His thesis centers on a cultural shift he sees that began around 1965. Starting then America divided into an elite and those he calls "the unprotected many". Since then the elite successfully "overmatched, overran, and paralyzed the government" to grow and preserve their gains (7).

Each chapter of Tailspin focused on one aspect of that transformation. Brill addresses the rise of a meritocracy starti
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Peter Mcloughlin
Although Brill starts talking about the virtues of the meritocracy he spends a great deal of time giving a fine-grained analysis of how they screwed over the country in the past four or five decades to the point where for most people we are not a viable republic while the elites of meritocratic order (and I emphasize that the merit part should be viewed with suspicion and irony) enriched themselves and gated themselves off from the rest of us to the greater populations detriment. Brill describes ...more
David Valentino
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Why We’re in the Fix We Are

If you’ve been paying attention for the past few years, what Steven Brill tells you in his often times infuriating new book Tailspin will not surprise you. There’s a tremendous and still expanding disparity between the haves and the have-nots. The haves control the levers of government and they work actively to reduce government, because, frankly, government can do little for them; from their viewpoint, it mostly hinders them. The have-nots control nothing. They really
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Mammal
Jun 07, 2018 marked it as may-finish
I agree about the political unsustainability of current system of meritocracy. But I was hoping for more frank discussion. Because many if not most people, perhaps myself included, may just lack what it takes to succeed in the modern economy.

If it takes an IQ of 115 or above to at least moderately succeed in the modern meritocracy, than 85% of population would not, no matter how much SAT-prep you throw in. When being "average" is not good enough, trying to make everyone "above average" is not go
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Ben
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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skip thurnauer
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Why don't things work in America the way they should or the way they used to? I picked up Tailspin because I saw it referenced for stating the world's richest country has "the highest poverty rate among the 35 nations in the OECD except Mexico". WHAT! Fewer Americans are satisfied with the country and the income gap between haves and have-nots has widened. Steven Brill suggests how people and forces have caused a 50-year American Tailspin. Meritocracy is typically considered to be a positive for ...more
Laura
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steven Brill does for American institutions in general what he did for medicine in his latest book, Tailspin. Brill argues that the one unintended consequences of the American push for a meritocracy-based economic and political system has been success -- such the the successful one per cent has pulled up the ladders and dug legal and economic moats about their perches, preventing the other 99% of the country from sharing in their wealth and power. Specifically, he talks about polarization, finan ...more
Bob
Jul 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A great objective view of the mess we have created with the best of intentions

I like Steven Brill books. A little heavy on detail at times but a fairly balanced account of a complex situation. I liked America’s Bitter Pill and this is the same insightful review of a huge situation. There were things he explained that I knew in my bones and now have some “science” behind. I felt neither party could be trusted to fix anything, now I know why. I felt the most overlooked issue of the Trump election
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Francine
Jul 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is an easy read for the average American to understand the various topics of how the 1% have come to build moats around their wealth keeping the the rest of America from gaining any kind of advantage in a tilted playing field. It's a must read for persons asking how we can get a large middle class back in America. The Republicans have the control to make court decisions on a conservative level favoring the 1% and the corporations and the Democrats are too weak to help the growing worki ...more
Aleksandar Totic
Jul 09, 2018 rated it liked it
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
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G. T.
Jun 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Well thought out and documented (one third of the book is citations and references). This book does a very good job of mapping what has gone wrong with our U.S. cultural and political situation since WW II, then goes the extra step of suggesting how things might be fixed. The book should be mandatory reading in all American High Schools. At times the writing style is a bit like a legal brief (no surprise, given the author's background) -- I'd love to see a hard-hitting 100 page version of this b ...more
Richard Nelson
Jun 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
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
Jack
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mistakes were made

Brill provides a compelling accounting of how e followed our instinct in rewarding merit to result in a winner take all situation. The key culprits seem fo be the obsessive focus on making money through finance rather than productivity and the increasing relationship between politics and money. Now we’re gridlocked no one is willing or able to make the compromises needed to recover. He describes the problem, but since his heroes are all lawyers, he’s a long way from a solution
Anthony
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hard hitting investigative journalism, that reveals the meritocracy, financial engineering, political money, due process, polarization, democratic reforms of the political process, and how they contributed in their own way to the erosion of responsibility and accountability politics corrupted by money and suffused with meanness. However, on the horizon are a group who will lay the ground work for a revival. A must read for all citizens.
Victoria
Jul 01, 2018 rated it liked it
points taken
1. to paraphrase Shakespeare: First we kill all the lawyers 2. beware of unintended consequences

Brill suggests that the mess America is in now is because of Meritocracy, financial engineering, political money, due process, democratic reforms of the political process, and polarization.
Some ideas originally were good but all things become bad by lawyers who can game the system for their clients. And game for both sides of an issue.

Betsy Starks
Jun 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent and comprehensive study of the economy, trade, infrastructure, politics, government and culture in the U.S. causing the downfall of our society. Brill’s solutions are a little lame, it seems to me, but, as he states, if there were a real uprising of the people to demand change in the areas he targets, we may be able to get back on track. Is it too late?
Sam
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I agree with many of the points Brill makes. His critiques of just how paralyzed and dysfunctional our civic institutions have become, make me shake my head in disbelief--yet, I realize the truth of what he's saying.

As far as making a raw impact, though, his recent cover essay in Time Magazine, based on highlights from this book, covered many of the same points, and was more effective.
Boone Bolinder
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
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.
Don Heiman
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The book “Tailspin: The People and Forces Behind America’s Fifty-Year Fall —and Those Fighting to Reverse It” was written by Steven Brill and published in 2018. Brill is an attorney, Yale instructor, and recognized journalist who is well versed on American social history from the Nixon to present era (2017). I found his work well referenced, colorful, and mentally gripping.
Daniel Weiner
Jul 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
I was a little slower in completing this - partly because I lost the library book and had to buy a new copy, and then found the library copy. :/ and partly because it's dense reading. (it was not as easy reading for me as Bitter Pill). Much to think about!
Heidi
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Well written and thought out, but very depressing to know to what degree our country is out of our hands and in the hands of special interests. At the end he tries to suggest that things will get better once we (the people) figure this out, but will it ever happen?
Cheryl Campbell
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
An overall outstanding book of the decline in the U.S. in opportunity, but the book - due to its attention to detail and organization of an incredible number of facts and citations - is a bit academic to read. It is an outstanding contribution to the literature, but is somewhat exhausting to read.
Writemoves
Jul 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have been reading so many books and articles lately about the decline and fall of the United States that my mind shut down at reading any more depressing analysis. Looks like a decent book (I read about 50 pages) but just bad timing...
Snotnose
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
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.
Bari Dzomba
Jun 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent journalism and research. Brill doesn’t disappoint. I see this as a 4.5. Annoyed that the reading stats are off.... I was at 70% when the book finished. The rest were sources.
Juli Wekkin
Jul 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Highly informative.

A must read for anyone wanting to understand how we got to where we are in this country and a call to action. Unbiased and factual.
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“The protected versus the unprotected.” 0 likes
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