Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America (Paperback)

Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America By Bob Herbert Cover Image
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From longtime New York Times columnist Bob Herbert comes a wrenching portrayal of ordinary Americans struggling for survival in a nation that has lost its way

In his eighteen years as an opinion columnist for The New York Times, Herbert championed the working poor and the middle class. After filing his last column in 2011, he set off on a journey across the country to report on Americans who were being left behind in an economy that has never fully recovered from the Great Recession. The portraits of those he encountered fuel his new book, Losing Our Way. Herbert’s combination of heartrending reporting and keen political analysis is the purest expression since the Occupy movement of the plight of the 99 percent.
     The individuals and families who are paying the price of America’s bad choices in recent decades form the book’s emotional center: an exhausted high school student in Brooklyn who works the overnight shift in a factory at minimum wage to help pay her family’s rent; a twenty-four-year-old soldier from Peachtree City, Georgia, who loses both legs in a misguided, mismanaged, seemingly endless war; a young woman, only recently engaged, who suffers devastating injuries in a tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis; and a group of parents in Pittsburgh who courageously fight back against the politicians who decimated funding for their children’s schools.
     Herbert reminds us 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. Today, the gap between the wealthy and everyone else has widened dramatically, the nation’s physical plant is crumbling, and the inability to find decent work is a plague on a generation. Herbert traces where we went wrong and spotlights the drastic and dangerous shift of political power from ordinary Americans to the corporate and financial elite. Hope for America, he argues, lies in a concerted push to redress that political imbalance. Searing and unforgettable, Losing Our Way ultimately inspires with its faith in ordinary citizens to take back their true political power and reclaim the American dream.

About the Author

BOB HERBERT was an opinion columnist for the New York Times from 1993 to 2011. Before that he was a national correspondent for NBC News and a reporter and columnist for the New York Daily News. He has won numerous awards, including the American Society of News Editors award for distinguished newspaper writing and the Ridenhour Courage Prize for the “fearless articulation of unpopular truths.” Currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, a public policy think tank in New York City, he also hosts Bob Herbert’s OP-ED.TV, a weekly interview program on Time Warner Cable, and is producing a documentary on the black middle class for PBS.

Praise For…

"Losing Our Way is a brave call to action—not simply to put people back to work, but also to link that work to the necessary interests of an egalitarian society. This means investing in what we’ve catastrophically undervalued: our bridges and highways and tunnels, our public schools, our fellow citizens. Herbert approaches this monumental task the same way he approached such unpopular issues for almost 20 years in his Op-Ed column at this paper: case by case, week after week, with steady resolve. The shortsighted policies and unchecked greed that have resulted in the abandonment of the poor are now destroying the middle class, and Herbert remains willing to state, very clearly, what he sees." —Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, The New York Times Book Review

“Bob Herbert's new book Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America is one of the most important, most compelling books that I have read in many years. For those of us who have felt that something has gone seriously wrong in our country, Herbert connects the dots. He provides a carefully documented, well-written account of what went wrong and why. As he pulls together a sweeping narrative, he weaves it through the personal accounts of individuals whose stories are emblematic and heartbreaking. . . . If you read only one book this year, make it Losing Our Way. It will change you. It will make you want to get involved, take action, make a difference. As [Herbert] says at the end of the book, it doesn't have to be this way. Changing it depends on us.” —Diane Ravitch, Huffington Post

"Herbert illuminates in this masterwork of reporting." O Magazine

“Bob Herbert has written an unignorable book. A former columnist for The New York Times, he has brought the same lucidity, passion and first-hand accuracy to what is wrong in our country. His solution is as unavoidable as it is obvious—we must turn away from greed and apathy in all its forms and think of the good of others and of the nation as a whole.” —Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“Herbert ardently defends those being left behind in this current ‘winner-take-all’ economy. As he travels across the U.S. interviewing the jobless and wounded, as well as noted educators, economists, activists and political leaders . . . what emerges from his chronicle is a devastating portrait. . . . Herbert ends by urging bold new leadership against an ‘intolerable status quo’ and pointing to encouraging examples of citizen groups rising up across the country.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"In vivid anecdotes and moving portraits, Herbert humanizes the many problems he uncovers, and he clearly believes that Americans can, and will, band together to set the nation on a new course." —Kirkus Reviews

“Asked by a World War II veteran, ‘What happened to us?’, Bob Herbert does what he has done all through his remarkable career as a journalist: he sets out to find the answers from the ground up. Searching out the stories and experiences of everyday Americans, and digging deep into facts and figures from ‘the high noon of capitalism’ to the widening gulf of our present vast inequalities, he takes us to the heart and core of our troubles while holding firmly to the conviction of his lifetime: that the truth shall set us free. Here is America as revealed by a great reporter whose empathy with everyday people inspires trust on their part, honesty on his, and discovery for all who make the journey with him.” —Bill Moyers
“In a series of haunting portraits, Losing Our Way is an unforgettable reminder of the struggles facing America’s middle class today. Herbert has given us a sweeping picture of what has gone wrong in America—how we have underinvested in infrastructure, let corporate policies dominate the education debate, and fought needless wars that resulted in a tragic waste of life. A brilliant and devastating portrayal that explains how our priorities and policies have gone awry, Losing Our Way will make you angry and determined to put our country back on course.” —Joseph E. Stiglitz, winner of the 2001 Nobel Prize in Economics and author of Globalization and Its Discontents and The Price of Inequality
Losing Our Way is a compelling account of the problems facing our country told in a riveting fashion through the eyes of people dealing with the consequences. I couldn’t put it down. It should be a mandatory read for every member of Congress and anyone who aspires to be president.”  —Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania, 2003-2011
“Bob Herbert has written a terrific and important book about America. It is an incisive examination of our nation’s tragic unwillingness to address the overwhelming problems we face. We can’t go forward unless we face reality. Herbert has the courage to do that.”
—U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders
Product Details
ISBN: 9780767930840
ISBN-10: 0767930843
Publisher: Anchor
Publication Date: July 7th, 2015
Pages: 304
Language: English