Book: Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America (2014). This new book by Bob Herbert, a former columnist at the New York Times and now a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, a national think tank, serves as a much-needed wake-up call.
As the title suggests, Mr. Herbert believes that the united States has lost its way, evidenced by our rampant unemployment and underemployment, neglected infrastructure, income inequality and the scourge of poverty. Following his departure from the New York Times three years ago, Mr. Herbert set off on a journey across the country to report on Americans who were limping from paycheck to paycheck and falling further behind in an economy that has yet to fully recover from the Great Recession.
Among the Americans Mr.Herbert meets during the course of his journey are a twenty-something woman who suffers devastating injuries in a tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis; a twenty-four-year-old soldier from Peachtree City, Georgia, who loses his legs and an arm in a seemingly endless war; an exhausted high school senior in Brooklyn who works the overnight shift in a factory, packaging bread, at minimum wage to help pay her family’s rent; and a group of parents in Pittsburgh who fight back against the politicians who decimated funding for their children’s schools.
Throughout the book, Mr. Herbert reminds readers of a time in America when unemployment was low, wages and profits were high, and the nation’s wealth, by current standards, was distributed much more equitably. Mr. Herbert traces where we went wrong and highlights the drastic and dangerous shift of political power from ordinary Americans to the corporate and financial elite.
In vivid anecdotes Mr. Herbert humanizes the many problems he uncovers and opines that salvation for America lies in a concerted push to redress that political imbalance. While there is a great concern for the state of the country, all is not without hope. Mr. Herbert firmly believes that Americans can, and will, come together to set the nation on a new, sustainable course.