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Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  148 ratings  ·  35 reviews
"Gentlemen, we have run out of money. It is time to start thinking."-Sir Ernest Rutherford, winner of the Nobel Prize in Nuclear Physics

Time to Start Thinking is a book destined to spark debate among liberals and conservatives alike. Drawing on his decades of exceptional journalism and his connections within Washington and around the world, Luce advances a carefully constr...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 3rd 2012 by Atlantic Monthly Press (first published 2012)
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The title of the book is inspired by a quotation by Sir Ernest Rutherford who won the Nobel prize for Chemistry: "Gentlemen, we have run out of money. It is time to start thinking." I would recommend this book to people with associations with the United States of America, be they professional, cultural, social or familial. It paints a lucid portrait of many of the significant challenges facing Uncle Sam in the second decade of the century.
Steven Grimm
Any American who's interested in the future well-being of the country will find this a depressing read. It's a catalog of bad news on lots of fronts, from education to industry to innovation to (especially) politics at both the state and federal level, and makes the case that these problems are all part of a negative feedback loop that defies easy correction. One can find fault with individual observations, as I did while reading, but the sheer quantity of problems, many of which are factually h...more
This is a remarkably uneven book. One could start with the comment that it would have been better had the author taken his one advice. A good deal of what is in here is a lot like an edition of Robin Leach's program although this one would probably be called "Lifestyles of the Mercantilists and Rent Seekers." The author breezes through a group of interviews of the rich and famous. Luce is a Brit who once worked for Larry Summers in the Obama White House as a speech writer. His research is sloppy...more
A very well-written book with lots of high-profile sources and great analysis. Luce is a master at summing up the problems facing the U.S. at present. He doesn't offer much in the way of solutions but he makes some very incisive points about how government infighting, bloated budgets, and legislation that seems to choke innovation, rather than encourage it are hurting the United States.
Good read by a British reporter for the Financial Times. I think that his outlook is too pessimistic about the future of the U.S., but he would argue that's what all Americans believe - that we're something special! Luce seems to have spoken to everyone, and his writing is crisp and clear.
Adam Glapa
I read this book in preparation to write a term essay for a college course. I have to say that it left me quite uneasy about America's future when I got through it. Its author, Edward Luce, also a writer for the Financial Times, makes some very substantiated points throughout the book, particularly around the current state of public education and the fractured political system in America. However, despite the fact that education and politics are very much intertwined with American technological...more
The author, Washington correspondent for the Financial Times, examines the challenges facing the US and our current polarized, paralyzed political reality. Populist movements more akin to the Know-Nothings of a previous time combined with a strong streak of anti-science, anti-intellectualism, but with a strong dose of a faith in American exceptionalism - except this exceptionalism has become almost a parody of itself. A collapse in our educational system - but not for the reasons you think (publ...more
This is an excellent, impassioned polemic about the relative decline of American power and economic competitiveness. Luce is an Englishman, a Financial Times journalist, a one-time speech writer for Larry Summer and both an admirer and a critic of America, its culture and its politics.

Luce's arguments are:
- America is declining in relative economic competitiveness because skilled, blue collar jobs are being lost in the US and being replaced by low productivity, low paying service jobs.
- As a res...more
Edward Luce, a British-born journalist who works for the Financial Times offers a pessimistic appraisal of American politics and economic conditions. Luce frequently compares trends in the United States to those in China.

Economic well-being for a large majority of the population had been roughly static, or even declining for roughly 35 years prior to the 2008 financial crisis. Events after 2008 have reduced incomes for much of the population, even though the Gross Domestic Product has been slow...more
The lack of fact checking from the chief columnist for the Financial Times is quite astonishing.

Here are a couple examples:

1. Page 203. " . . . California's newest public university [Camarillo] sits in a valley that produces three crops a year. Its fruits are watered by the rain clouds that periodically blow through from the great canyons of Utah and Nevada and then into the Pacific. . . On both sides are the rolling strawberry fields and lemon groves that have given California the apt name the...more
Mike Violano

Author Edward Luce has crafted an excellent account of the state of disunion and decline in America from the deepening economic crisis to widespread failures in government and education. One of many fine anecdotes and quotes comes from Albert Einstein as applied to measuring the effectiveness of current educational programs-- " Not everything that can be counted counts and not everything that counts can be counted". The American public's trust in government has steadily declined from a post-WWI...more
This book provides a look at what's happening (or not) in America these days. As the title suggests, America is facing the spectre of decline. It isn't the great nation it once was, or aspired to be and the choices "the country" has made, the problems that have ensued and the quagmire it is stuck in now are keeping it from being the model nation it would like to appear to be to the rest of the world. Unless something drastic changes, and unless it happens soon, America is going to find itself in...more
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with the author's main argument, it is very difficult not to appreciate the amount of work dedicated to writing this book.

As I was reading, I couldn't help but picture a puzzle that the author was putting together for a reader, slowly and methodologically. He's interviewing people from different backgrounds, from ordinary people to Fortune 500 CEO's, to people from private and public sector's. The end result, as you might guess, is a picture that isn'...more
Being born and raised in the United Kingdom, Edward Luce offers his account of what's wrong with American politics from the standpoint of a foreign spectator. It is an interesting read that reinforces some of the beliefs that go along the lines that Capitol Hill's bureaucratic behemoth is slowly eating away at the core of America's economic engine. Read it, then move on.
This book gave me a creepy feeling. I never expected to read how much seems to be going wrong in America, and more how much seems to be going wrong in the Western world.
Things I read in this book I could easily transform to what is happening in Western Europa in particular in the Netherland. In my country too, the middle-class working people pay the price for the greed of the rich and famous who more and more become the idols and icons for a succesful life which can never be reached if you're n...more
Paula Maguire
slightly different title , I think it got released as : America and the spectre of decline in the Uk. Some interesting arguments and explanations as to why the Us is in decline, the foolishness of the austerity budget cuts and the dangers of capitalism. I was particularly interested in the summery of why American education is in decline and there were no surprises there, in fact rather comforting to know that others hold the same attitudes as me - ...'Yet the interstices of the 1960s also bequea...more
Anthony Faber
This book gives us the evidence of America's declining lead as the world's economic leader with many comparisons with England's decline. He doesn't have the hubris to prescribe any solutions, although he does mention the kinds of things other countries are doing to catch up and maybe pass us. The big takeaway for me was how many conservatives are worried enough that they want the government to do something, despite their basic anti-government stance.
Andrew Mercier
I appreciated Luce's honest explanation of things that are genuinely wrong in this country today. Mostly a lack of interest and an attitude of American exceptionalism that will undo us if we don't start working hard and stop just entertaining ourselves. My only problem I eventually thought of was Luce's 100% support of Asian economies as those that will over take the U.S. and other "western" developed nations. I'm not sure he explains thoroughly enough how China's isolationist market policies, u...more
i think this is one of the best analysis of the current situation here in the US. having lived here myself for 10 years now that is nothing in this book that I would disagree with.

this is not a book that is trying to create fear of the future, it is not about screaming fire it is about an honest look in the mirror ... something that Americans are extremely afraid of. this is not about the US being doomed but it is about a rocky road ahead, and about a lack of leadership ... at a point in time w...more
I enjoyed this book which really does put the American predicament in a clear perspective. I didn't necessarily agree with all his analysis and I don't think his economics grasp is as sound as his political grasp but this is still very generative and worth reading, especially alongside his book on India In Spite of the Gods. Interesting that two major world powers both somewhat distorted by nationalism and religious fundamentalism, one on the rise and one perhaps on the decline, should offer suc...more
Michael Brockley
Luce exposes the problems which confront the United States. A Brit, he as criticisms for both the left and the right, although he blames conservatism and the Tea Party for much of the quagmire in which the country is mired. His crucial point, unsurprisingly, is that the USA rises and falls with the middle class. Luce does not offer any solutions but he casts a wide scope on the problems.
Crumbling infrastructure, failing schools, political gridlock, economic stagnation, an increasingly ignorant electorate ... It's depressingly difficult to argue with Luce's points. He writes as a sympathetic outsider, which I think leads to a fairly clear picture of the problems America now faces. There aren't many solutions offered, though, aside from the title: Time to Start Thinking.
This book offers a very alarming view of where we are as a country and if something is not done soon it also deals with where we could be headed. This book is well balanced reporting by an outstanding reporter for the Financial Times and should be read by everyone concerned about where our country is going.
Brian Jackson
Equal parts interesting and depressing. I don't recall another book which, after laying out current economic and political issues in America, suggests that there is little hope for improvement, just further decline for the foreseeable future.
Nancy Stringer
For economists, productivity is the ultimate measure of an economy's IQ and most of America's jobs are in dumb sectors. Luce's most convincing chapters reveal how state education continues to fail the mass of ordinary Americans.
A book very much for its time, written (and sadly edited) with a note of urgency about the seismic shift in national exceptionalism from the US to the rest (and really how little Washington can do about it).
I wish he could have been more precise and careful in his analysis for each topic, but that would have probably resulted in too much book. Good overview of a number of public-life topics.
Alyssa Boutelle
While Luce's research was very thorough and precise, he failed to provide the recommended action he seemed to suggest he would at the beginning of the book.
Probably the most important book of observations about America by a non-American since Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America.
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