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Reset: How This Crisis Can Restore Our Values and Renew Americaby Kurt Andersen
Synopses & Reviews
This is the end of the world as we've known it. But it isn't the end of the world. So says Kurt Andersen in this indispensable book, one bound to be on night tables and kindles, in backpacks and purses: Reset. In his smooth, skillful, and accessible style, Andersen gives a clear-eyed assessment of our economic crisis-how we got to where we are-then shows us a near-future that looks much different (and better) and full of huge and positive opportunities.
We lived the last thirty years, Andersen believes, as if the Reagan-era boom never ended: it took a giant economic collapse-one that upstaged even the election of the first black president-to do it. Now, with the stock market down by half, corporate perennials hobbled, and millions of jobs gone, it's time to reclaim, reconnect, and reset the U.S. And, Andersen says, we can do it the way we've always triumphed over tough times: by using the combination of restraint and outlandishness that make us Americans.
Andersen reveals what will be gained by all that's been lost: the best and brightest workers will be free to pursue public service, politics, and the arts (instead of finance); sustainability will provoke entrepreneurial zeal and the building of new kinds of homes (instead of unsustainable low taxes and high real estate prices); and entertainers will find new forms to express it all (instead of recycling or sampling old ones). A new generation-the one that elected Obama-will provide savvy and unsentimental energy, and new immigrants will show the same mercantile spirit as their forebears. All of this will create the next chapter in the American story: a slimmed-down, less selfish, still thrilling, and individualistic society.
Just as he did in the novels, Turn of the Century and Heyday, Kurt Andersen catches the zeitgeist and puts it in a large and encouraging context. Reset is a small book with hopes as big as the country it explains, scolds, and celebrates.
“This is the end of the world as weve known it,” Kurt Andersen writes in Reset. “But it isnt the end of the world.” In this smart and refreshingly hopeful book, Andersen-a brilliant analyst and synthesizer of historical and cultural trends, as well as a bestselling novelist and host of public radios Studio 360-shows us why the current economic crisis is actually a moment of great opportunity to get ourselves and our nation back on track.
Historically, America has always shifted between wild, exuberant speculation and steady, sober hard work, as well as back and forth between economic booms and busts, and between right and left politically. This is one of the rare moments when all these cycles shift dramatically and simultaneously-a moment when complacency ends, ossified structures loosen up, and enormous positive change is possible.
The shock to the system can enable each of us to rethink certain habits and focus more on the things that make us authentically happy. The present flux can enable us as a society to consolidate the enormous gains of the last several decades in areas such as technology, crime prevention, womens and civil rights, and the democratization of the planet. We can reap the fruits of a revival of realism and pragmatism at home and abroad. As we enter a new era of post-party-line common sense, we can start to reinvent hopelessly broken systems-in health care, education, climate change, and more-and rediscover some of the old-fashioned American values of which weve lost sight.
In Reset, Andersen explains how weve done it before and why we are about to do it again-and better than ever.
About the Author
Kurt Andersen is author of Heyday and Turn of the Century, and frequently writes for New York and Vanity Fair. He is host and co-creator of the Peabody Award-winning public radio program Studio 360. In 2006, he founded Very Short List, an e-mail service for connoisseurs of culture who would never call themselves “connoisseurs.” He was co-founder of Spy magazine, and has been a columnist and critic for The New Yorker and Time. Andersen lives with his wife and daughters in Brooklyn.
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