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Extended Audio Sample Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer--and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class Audiobook, by Jacob S. Hacker Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (566 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jacob S. Hacker, Paul Pierson Narrator: John Allen Nelson Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2011 ISBN: 9781452671789
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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. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • 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

  • A New York Times Bestseller

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marilyn | 2/20/2014

    " This book is a real page-turner! Jacob Hacker & Paul Pierson carefully outline and explain why the middle class is shrinking and the rich keep getting richer and richer. Hope someone's listening out there. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary Ann | 2/15/2014

    " Insightful, readable analysis of how and why the income/wealth gap has mushroomed astronomically over the past 30+ years. This is not an assault on the political right but rather an unemotional, balanced presentation of the actions undertaken and decisions made by politicians on both sides of the political spectrum. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sonia | 2/3/2014

    " So I didn't finish this because the end of the semester happened and I got entirely burnt out, but I will say that what I read was interesting, smart and incisive. Pierson and Hacker are currently kind of rock stars in the poli-sci world, partly because they make very complicated issues - in this case America's unprecedented spike in income inequality - understandable for those of us who don't have extensive background in econ or policy. The argument they make here for how the U.S. government effectively tips the scales in the favor of the already favored rich (forget the 1%, it's more like the.1%) is convincing and devastating. My only complaint is I wish they'd talk a little more about the poor versus the conventional focus on the middle class. Yes, it's striking how the U.S. doesn't really have a middle class anymore if you look at the ridiculous skew of wealth in this country, but it's even more shocking how much of this country lives in poverty while those at the very top exploit tax loopholes and complain about the way the government is bleeding them dry. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Amber Todoroff | 1/8/2014

    " This book is a must-read for anyone interested in politics or the history of our current economic situation. I almost took a star off for being too forgiving of Obama's failure to do anything except serve his corporate masters, but this book was published in 2010 so I suppose they still had hope for him. This book very clearly points out the problems with our economy and political system following the Carter administration. A good read for the politically aware, and an even better read for those who think they are politically aware. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Russell | 12/31/2013

    " Compelling. The authors write very well and effectively communicate findings from social science research to a larger audience. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Joanne | 12/19/2013

    " I can't believe how this book handles the question. I thought I knew answer, but that was only the half of it. Am I madder now? Surprisingly, no. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Pj | 12/19/2013

    " Very comprehensive, and spends a commendable amount of time providing necessary context. A great explanation of how America has really become a Corporatocracy. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Johanna Varnander | 11/7/2013

    " I enjoyed it for the most part, but for my taste - it rambled slightly too much. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chris | 10/18/2013

    " Good book about the the influence of lobbying in politics, and how it's changed the game. I would've like some more quantitative evidence to back up the claims (e.g. studies addressing the middle class decline and the role of politics, etc...) "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Craig | 8/29/2013

    " Really glad I read this book. Hard to say it is enjoyable because it hits the mark so well. Disturbing if not surprising. I learned a lot of the details around what I had experienced anecdotally. Highly recommended read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 8/8/2013

    " decent facts on why corporate interests dominate the political landscape. A bit ranty at times, though. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael Quinn | 9/25/2012

    " It spends way too much time fawning over Obama in the final third. Other than that, an excellent piece of work. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Seth D Michaels | 12/11/2011

    " Go read this. It's depressing but very well-argued. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 11/14/2011

    " Another book I highly recommend about politics; in this case how the Congress and administration have made it easier for the wealthy to get fabulously wealthy while doing nothing to improve the status of the middle or lower classes. Leaves you a little angry, but better informed. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Matt Rathbun | 10/3/2011

    " One of the few books where I have used the 100 minus your age rule. While I agree with the general premise I found the presentation to be unbearable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kirsten | 9/12/2011

    " How can I say "I really liked this" this book?! Very useful discussion of the path to ruin, enlightening, yet very depressing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Linda | 5/2/2011

    " the subtitle says it all - How Washington Made the Rich Richer and the Poor Poorer; not good for blood pressure! need a way to take this from the book discussion/read phase to political action. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Matt | 3/31/2011

    " One of the few books where I have used the 100 minus your age rule. While I agree with the general premise I found the presentation to be unbearable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Deborah | 1/15/2011

    " "If you read only 1 book this year, this is it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Craig | 1/1/2011

    " Really glad I read this book. Hard to say it is enjoyable because it hits the mark so well. Disturbing if not surprising. I learned a lot of the details around what I had experienced anecdotally. Highly recommended read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Brian | 12/9/2010

    " Thirty years of class warfare politics explained in gory detail. "

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About the Author
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 Great Risk Shift: The New Economic Insecurity and the Decline of the American Dream, The Divided Welfare State, and, with Paul Pierson, of American Amnesia: The Forgotten Roots of Our Prosperity; Winner-Take-All Politics: How Washington Made the Rich Richer—and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class; Off Center: The Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy. He has appeared recently on The NewsHour, MSNBC, All Things Considered, and Marketplace. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.
About the Narrator

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.