The Conscience of a Liberal by Paul Krugman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Conscience of a Liberal gives a political and economic history of the twentieth century, highlighting the way economic inequality has been shaped by political activism by far-right "movement conservatives," who got their start in the 1960s but didn't come to political power until the 1980s.
The Good: Krugman's book is well argued and written for a general audience. You don't have to have ever taken an economics class to understand his arguments and conclusion. Krugman goes into a lot of detail showing how "movement conservatism" has aimed to repeal the FDR's New Deal and create a new Gilded Age of economic inequality and has used race issues as a primary distraction, while promoting economic ideas that favor the wealthiest Americans and hurt most voters. It isn't possible to do these arguments justice in a short review. I recommend Conscience of a Liberal because it presents these arguments in ways that are both easy to understand and historically comprehensive.
The Bad: Conscience of a Liberal seems dated now. Written in 2007, it doesn't reflect the rise of the Tea Party, Occupy Wall-Street, Citizens United or the dominance of austerity rhetoric currently floating around. That being said, I think a lot of these events fit in line with Krugman's general premises.
As I said before, Conscience of a Liberal is written for a general audience, so a lot of the criticism against it has been that it is weaker on economic arguments and overtly political. However, this is the entire premise of the book: that political conditions have a great sway over the economy, particularly when it comes to inequality.
The Bottom Line: Conscience of a Liberal is a great book that details the rise of economic inequality and the main reason behind it.