Winner-Take-All Politics:

How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class

A New York Times Bestseller

We all know that the very rich have gotten a lot richer these past few decades while most Americans haven't. In fact, the exorbitantly paid have continued to thrive during the current economic crisis, even as the rest of Americans have fallen behind. Why do the "have-it-alls" have so much more? Lots of so-called experts claim to have solved this great mystery, but no one has really gotten to the bottom of it-until now. In their lively and provocative Winner-Take-All Politics, renowned political scientists Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson demonstrate that the usual suspects-foreign trade and financial globalization, technological changes in the workplace, increased education at the top-are largely innocent of the charges against them. Instead, they indict an unlikely suspect and take us on an entertaining tour of the mountain of evidence against the culprit. The guilty party is American politics. Runaway inequality and the present economic crisis reflect what government has done to aid the rich and what it has not done to safeguard the interests of the middle class. The winner-take-all economy is primarily a result of winner-take-all politics. Part revelatory history, part political analysis, part intellectual journey, Winner-Take-All Politics shows how a political system that traditionally has been responsive to the interests of the middle class has been hijacked by the super-rich. In doing so, it not only changes how we think about American politics, but also points the way to rebuilding a democracy that serves the interests of the many rather than just those of the wealthy few.

Editorial Reviews

Important.... The collapse of the American middle class and the huge transfer of wealth to the already wealthy is the biggest domestic story of our time.Jonathan Alter, The New York Times Book Review

““How can hedge-fund managers who are pulling down billions sometimes pay a lower tax-rate than do their secretaries?’ ask the political scientists Jacob S. Hacker (of Yale) and Paul Pierson (University of California, Berkeley) in their deservedly lauded new book, Winner-Take-All Politics. If you want to cry real tears about the American dream—as opposed to the self-canonizing tears of John Boehner—read this book and weep. The authors’ answer to that question and others amount to a devastating indictment of both parties…The book deflates much of the conventional wisdom.”

New York Times

“Important…The collapse of the American middle class and the huge transfer of wealth to the already wealthy is the biggest domestic story of our time…The good news reported by Hacker and Pierson is that American wealth disparities—are not the residue of globalization or technology or anything else beyond our control. There’s nothing inevitable about them. They’re the result of politics and policies, which tilted toward the rich beginning in the 1970s and can, with enough effort, be tilted back over time (emphasis added for impatient liberals).”

New York Times Book Review

“A must-read book…It broke down what was at stake in 2010 and will be at stake in 2012 better than anything I’ve read…Hacker and Pierson show how politics has become ‘organized combat.’”

Salon

“Engrossing…Hacker and Pierson…deliver the goods…Their description of the organizational dynamics that have tilted economic policymaking in favor of the wealthy is convincing.”

Harvard Business Review

“Buy a copy of Hacker and Pierson’s book and read it. Seriously…This is the most complete and sustained explanation I’ve ever read of why, over the past thirty years, America has gone the direction it has even while most other countries haven’t…For me, it was a three-hundred-page ‘Aha!’ moment.”

Mother Jones

“Hacker and Pierson make a compelling case. If Marie Antoinette were alive, she might aver of today’s great economically challenged masses, ‘Let them nibble on passbook-savings-account interest’—if they can manage to save anything, that is.”

Christian Science Monitor

“How the US economic system has also moved ‘off center’ toward an extreme concentration of wealth, and how progressive efforts to reverse that trend have run aground…A very valuable book.”

Washington Monthly

Author Biography

Jacob S. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of political science at Yale University. A fellow at the New America Foundation in Washington, DC, he is the author of the New York Times Editors’ Choice The Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream and The Divided Welfare State, and he is coauthor, with Paul Pierson, of Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy. A frequent media commentator, Hacker has written for publications including the Nation, the New York Times, and the Washington Post and has appeared on MSNBC and NPR. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Reader Biography

John Allen Nelson’s critically acclaimed roles on television’s 24 and Vanished are among the highlights of his twenty-five-plus years as an actor, screenwriter, and film producer. As a narrator, he won an AudioFile Earphones Award for his reading of Zoo Story by Thomas French.

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