The Great Unraveling Hardcover – Sep 2 2003
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The Great Unraveling is a chronicle of how "the heady optimism of the late 1990s gave way to renewed gloom as a result of "incredibly bad leadership, in the private sector and in the corridors of power." Offering his own take on the trickle-down theory, economist and columnist Paul Krugman lays much of the blame for a slew of problems on the Bush administration, which he views as a "revolutionary power...a movement whose leaders do not accept the legitimacy of our current political system." Declaring them radicals masquerading as moderates, he questions their motives on a range of issues, particularly their tax and Social Security plans, which he argues are "obviously, blatantly based on bogus arithmetic." Though a fine writer, Krugman relies more heavily on numbers than words to examine the current rash of corporate malfeasance, the rise and fall of the stock market bubble, the federal budget and the future of Social Security, and how a huge surplus quickly became a record deficit. He also rails against the news media for displaying a disturbing lack of skepticism and for failing to do even the most basic homework when reporting on business and economic issues. The book is mainly a collection of op-ed pieces Krugman wrote for The New York Times between 2000 and 2003. Overall, this format works well. Krugman writes clearly about complicated issues and offers plenty of evidence and hard facts to support his theories regarding the intersection of business, economics, and politics, making this a detailed, informative, and thought-provoking book. --Shawn Carkonen
From Publishers Weekly
This selection of three years of New York Times op-eds by economist and Princeton professor Krugman document his opposition to the governance of George W. Bush and his "bad economics wrapped in the flag." In his introduction, Krugman asserts that Bush is a radical and that America's right wing is "a revolutionary power... a movement whose leaders do not accept the legitimacy of our current political system." The core of the book's 100-plus columns is dedicated to eviscerating Bush's fiscal policies, uncovering the administration's hidden agendas, as well as castigating the media for letting him get away with it. A handful of articles advocate the globalization of free trade. Much of the material will be familiar to Times readers, but reading the items together reveals Krugman's growing anger at the hubris he sees exhibited by the extreme right wing and its seeming defiance of logic. At first, Krugman is a numbers man, methodically parsing the data (demonstrating, for example, how the heartland is not, statistically, more committed to family than people on the coasts), but over time he arrives at the conclusion that "Yes, Virginia, there is a vast right-wing conspiracy" and "it works a lot like a special-interest lobby." Krugman is one of the few commentators able to sound both appalled and reasonable at the same time as he provides an alternate history of the last three years to that penned by conservative pundits. Many readers will find Krugman very persuasive as to how our present government has done us wrong.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
Drawing on the early writings of Henry Kissinger, Krugman characterizes the Bush Regime as a revolutionary power whose leaders refuse to accept the legitimacy of the current American political system and who are taking radical steps to change it. Seen in this context, the inexplicable fiscal and economic disasters of the Bush Regime begin to make sense. The Bush Regime does not really believe that it can provide social services to the majority of Americans along with a massive tax giveaway to the rich, but it publicly makes this claim knowing that the press and the majority of Americans will never examine whether or not it is possible. According to Krugman, we have inherited a political climate in which leadership is judged exclusively by the appeal of its appearance and speech acts, and never by the ramifications of its policies.Read more ›
The short Introduction bowled me over. It's one of those things that you want to make mandatory reading for every presidential candidate, media employee and business person - or any acquaintance who starts talking about the economy or politics. It's astoundingly good.
Living outside the political and media centers of Washington and New York has apparently helped Krugman maintain a clear head and rational perspective. The columns reprinted in the book display a clarity of thought and logic that one wishes everyone messing with or commenting on money possessed.
Pulitzer, Nobel, Fed Chairman or the highest elected office - after reading this book Krugman's got my vote.
While the book is essentially a collection of Krugman's New York Times columns, I found it very valuable for seeing how various stories unfolded, from the growing awareness that California's energy crisis was in fact engineered by Enron traders "gaming" the system to the deceitful manner in which the Bush adminstration lured the country into the misguided and tragic war in Iraq.
But more than anything, this book is not to be missed because of Krugman's excellent introduction, in which he explains how the Bush administration constitutes (in Henry Kissinger's term) a "revolutionary power" that will brook no compromise and will do anything (issue bogus terror alerts, out CIA agents, knowingly lie to the American public, etc.) to maintain and extend its power and ram its extremist agenda down our throats.
The Great Unraveling is a much-needed wakeup call for the American public and an urgent and timely warning of the dangers the Bush administration poses to our cherished democracy.
So I read it, with an open mind, yet skeptical that one book could sway me.
It is trash. And, as it turns out, I had already read the entire book in its many pieces.
First off, it is shallow. Because it is essentially just a collection of old op-eds, there is no depth, no real substance. If you want the gist of this book, just go to the NYT archive and pull up a few of his op-eds.
Which brings me to my second point, that it is repetitive. The op-eds are hollow and short, yet some of them cover almost the same ideas. If you've read one on a particular subject, you've read them all. My advice for Mr. Krugman: either elaborate or go to a new subject, por favor. Thanks.
Third, Krugman contradicts himself over and over. For example, his paranoid belief that President Bush wants to de-fund the government and take away the social safety net secured by FDR doesn't jive with his bemoaning of the deficits (and blaming them solely on Bush, nothing else) we now face.
Fourth, the guy just seems angry. I guess some Americans share his anger, and if you are angry and pessimistic about life and our country, this is the book for you, but he just is such a vindictive and bitter writer that it is hard to take him seriously.
Fifth, along those same lines, his hyperbole makes him not very credible. He seems to believe the worst about the direction of the country and the leadership of the Bush administration, no matter what he is talking about. Even good news becomes bad news to Paul Krugman.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
When will Krugman talk about how he was a (well) paid for Enron as they were scamming investors and Enron employees who lost their life savings. Come clean Krugman!Published on July 5 2004
We went from a half trillion dollar surplus to an almost trillion dollar deficit in the span of 3 years. Read morePublished on June 30 2004
Expected a lot more from this book and would pay $500 for a book that would give a truly balanced view. Does anyone have any recommendations?Published on June 27 2004
Paul Krugman is, by any measure, one of the most brilliant economists in the country, and certainly on anyone's short list for the Nobel Prize. Read morePublished on June 16 2004 by Michael J. Edelman
I'm willing to consider any point of view from any part of the political spectrum as long as it's thoughtful and honest. This book isn't. Read morePublished on June 10 2004
Krugman tells Ameirca how we are losing our way while Krugman was on the payroll of one of the most crooked American companies in history. The man has no credibility.Published on June 3 2004
I regularly read the author in the NY Times and find him to be erudite and authoritative. This collection of his columns over the years goes to show just how bad the Bush economic... Read morePublished on May 21 2004
If you are a George Bush fan this book is probably not for you. Paul Krugman is currently a columnist for the New York Times but is an economist and has been involved with politics... Read morePublished on May 6 2004 by William Ellison
I finished Krugman's book severasl hours ago and as a foreigner I was pleased to be able to read many of his past articles that had appeared in the NY Times but had been unknown to... Read morePublished on May 4 2004 by Tim Johnson
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