Evil Geniuses: The Unmaking of America: A Recent History

Random. Aug. 2020. 464p. ISBN 9781984801340. $30. POL SCI
Since the 1980s, many national business policies and judicial rulings have been dictated by evil geniuses who have restructured the economy to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the disappearing middle class and the growing number of poor, writes Andersen (Fantasyland). The past four decades have seen large-scale job loss, numerous mergers, easy loans, high interest rates, and the demise of unions further exacerbated by globalization and technology. President Ronald Reagan reigned over this pro-business era, yet he was supported by neoliberals who believed the economic pendulum had swung too far left. Since the 1990s, Andersen claims, a new class of poorly paid service workers, whose purpose is to tend to the wealthy, has replaced much of the middle class. Andersen’s deeply researched investigation concludes hopefully that the current plutocratic era has run its course, and that citizens are capable of doing the hard work of challenging economic inequality.
VERDICT The captivating narrative is at times slowed by a plethora of statistics and data, yet overall, is an illuminating investigation of post-1960s U.S. economic history that will engage readers of contemporary politics. See Rick Perlstein’s Reaganland for a detailed narrative of Reagan’s role in the nation’s shift to the right and his advocacy of pro-business governance.
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