Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Date: March 2015
Duration: 10 hours 19 minutes
Central to the very idea of America is the principle that we are a nation of opportunity, constrained only by ability and effort. But over the last quarter century we have seen a disturbing "opportunity gap" emerge. Americans have always accepted inequality of outcome, that is, we accept that some people do better than others and earn greater wealth. But we have always believed in equality of opportunity: those who have talent and try hard will succeed. This central tenet of the American Dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was.
Putnam begins the book with the story of his high school class of 1959 in Port Clinton, Ohio. By and large it is a story of success as the vast majority of students -- "our kids" -- went on to lives better than those of their parents. They in turn raised their children with the same expectations. But these children and grandchildren have had harder lives amid plummeting prospects. Many have found their ambitions unfulfilled. After this initial chapter, Our Kids tells the tale of diminishing opportunity through the stories of a variety of people from cities and suburbs across the country, drawing on a formidable body of research done especially for this book.
Our Kids is a rare combination of personal testimony and authoritative evidence, and for that reason, all the more troubling. In all the analyses of income inequality that have appeared over the past few years, no one has examined the subject with as much information and understanding as Robert Putnam.
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