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The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue and Prosperityby Jeffrey D. Sachs
Synopses & Reviews
For more than three decades, Jeffrey D. Sachs has been at the forefront of international economic problem solving. But Sachs turns his attention back home in The Price of Civilization, a book that is essential reading for every American. In a forceful, impassioned, and personal voice, he offers not only a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills but also an urgent call for Americans to restore the virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity.
As he has done in dozens of countries around the world in the midst of economic crises, Sachs turns his unique diagnostic skills to what ails the American economy. He finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, offering shortsighted solutions such as stimulus spending or tax cuts to address complex economic problems that require deeper solutions. Sachs argues that we have profoundly underestimated globalization’s long-term effects on our country, which create deep and largely unmet challenges with regard to jobs, incomes, poverty, and the environment. America’s single biggest economic failure, Sachs argues, is its inability to come to grips with the new global economic realities.
Yet Sachs goes deeper than an economic diagnosis. By taking a broad, holistic approach—looking at domestic politics, geopolitics, social psychology, and the natural environment as well—Sachs reveals the larger fissures underlying our country’s current crisis. He shows how Washington has consistently failed to address America’s economic needs. He describes a political system that has lost its ethical moorings, in which ever-rising campaign contributions and lobbying outlays overpower the voice of the citizenry. He also looks at the crisis in our culture, in which an overstimulated and consumption-driven populace in a ferocious quest for wealth now suffers shortfalls of social trust, honesty, and compassion.
Finally, Sachs offers a plan to turn the crisis around. He argues persuasively that the problem is not America’s abiding values, which remain generous and pragmatic, but the ease with which political spin and consumerism run circles around those values. He bids the reader to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and one another. Most important, he bids each of us to accept the price of civilization, so that together we can restore America to its great promise.
The Price of Civilization is a masterly road map for prosperity, founded on America’s deepest values and on a rigorous understanding of the twenty-first-century world economy.
From the Hardcover edition.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE GUARDIAN AND PUBLISHERS WEEKLY
“Succinct, humane, and politically astute . . . Sachs lays out a detailed path to reform, regulation, and recovery.”—The American Prospect
In this forceful and impassioned book, Jeffrey D. Sachs offers a searing and incisive diagnosis of our country’s economic ills, and an urgent call for Americans to restore the core virtues of fairness, honesty, and foresight as the foundations of national prosperity. Sachs finds that both political parties—and many leading economists—have missed the big picture, profoundly underestimating globalization’s long-term effects and offering shortsighted solutions. He describes a political system that is beholden to big donors and influential lobbyists and a consumption-driven culture that suffers shortfalls of social trust and compassion. He bids readers to reclaim the virtues of good citizenship and mindfulness toward the economy and each one another. Most important, he urges each of us to accept the price of civilization, so that together we restore America to its great promise. The Price of Civilization is a masterly road map for prosperity, founded on America’s deepest values and on a rigorous understanding of the twenty-first-century world economy.
With a new Preface by the author
“Half a century ago J. K. Galbraith’s The Affluent Society changed the political consciousness of a generation. . . . Jeffrey Sachs’s new book is a landmark in this great and essentially American tradition. . . . Sachs by his life and his writing goes far to restore one’s wavering faith in the informing inspiration of the post-1945 new dawn, faith in economics, faith in America and faith in humanity.”—The Spectator
“Stimulating . . . a must-read for every concerned citizen . . . [a] hard-hitting brief for a humane economy.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Sachs’s book is loaded with information and anecdotes [and] proposals that would make it harder for the powerful to rig the system for their benefit.”—Scientific American
“An eloquent call for American civic renewal based on moderation, compassion, and cooperation across the lines of class, ethnicity, and ideology.”—CNN Money
“Compelling . . . This is an important book.”—Financial Times
About the Author
Jeffrey Sachs is the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University and special adviser to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. He is internationally renowned for his contributions to solving some of the world’s most daunting economic and social crises, in his roles as a leading scholar and as an economic adviser to governments and international organizations around the world.
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