Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Recession
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Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Recession

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  101 ratings  ·  28 reviews
One of our most incisive and committed journalists—author of the classic All the Livelong Day—shows us the real human cost of our economic follies.

The Great Recession has thrown huge economic chal­lenges at almost all Americans save the super-affluent few, and we are only now beginning to reckon up the human toll it is taking. Down the Up Escalator is an urgent dispatch f...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 21st 2014 by Anchor (first published June 21st 2011)
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Sara
This book was interesting but very lightweight. It was more of an extended magazine article than a book, because I wouldn't expect to be able to read 300 pages of non-fiction in a few hours. However, for what it is, it's good. The author talks to various people affected by the recession and hears their stories and their theories on why things happened as they did. I don't know many people who have to scramble the way her subjects do and it was useful to get a sense for what life is like for them...more
Carly Thompson
Well written account of the effects of the Great Recession on average middle class Americans. Garson looks at people who have lost jobs, lost homes, and lost investment income. Written in the first person (and with some personal information) this is a clear account that shows the human cost behind the machinations of Wall Street.
Caren
This is an up-close-and-personal look at how the recent economic hard times have affected ordinary Americans. The author has done a wonderful job of introducing us to real people and their stories. She has changed their names, but assures us these people are not composite characters, but real people and real stories. The book delves into three aspects of difficulties recent years have brought so many of us: job loss, foreclosures, and loss of savings. If you look at those three areas, you realiz...more
Ben
Stupid computer ate my first review so keeping this short.

On the one hand, it does a nice job of avoiding any stories that feel overly repetitive or cliched about what happened to people in the recession. This helps give a greater sense of depth about what was going on.

At the same time, the focus on solidly middle class people means that the most damaging parts of the recession are not really visible. A lot of the people profiled had some degree of assets or employment before the crash, so whil...more
Gloria
If you have been directly affected by a job loss and/or financial stress during the recession that began in 2008, read this book. If you simply want to better understand the issues that continue to affect others experiencing unemployment and housing issues, read this book. Barbara Garson helps us understand what happened with lenders, bailouts, short sales, loan modifications, changing labor needs, young and older workers, outsourcing, the greedy and the naive, and more. Perhaps that sounds bori...more
Melissa
“If you’re not a worker, not a consumer, and you don’t earn significant income from investments, then you don’t have much of a place in capitalist society. In the course of this recession millions more of us have slipped into that no place. Most of us will still manage to eat and keep our televisions connected. But it can’t be pleasant to live in a country whose elite have no regular use for us.” (pg. 269)

This quote, coming at the end of Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Great Reces...more
Claire
I couldn't put this book down. It puts in plain, understandable terms (rare these days) the mortgage crisis issues and all the other aspects of our economy and how we got there - often pointing out things I'd noticed, but hadn't associated them as part of the reason. It shows what REAL people have been doing to cope and the change in attitudes and plans they needed to do so. It tells it through people on many sides of the issues.

I can't say this book is uplifting - with this economy it just isn'...more
Nigel
Excellent, deeply personal look at the lives affected and undone (and in some cases untouched) by the recent financial upheavals, that acts as a necessary counterbalance to the more flashy and/or technical accounts of high level banking and housing shenanigans I've read over the last few years. Will probably be overshadowed by George Packer's THE UNWINDING, but still recommended.

(Note that it's not so much a book about poverty in the USA - as Garson point out, most of the people she interviews...more
Nathan
Decent first hand accounts of people left almost permanently unemployed by the great recession. The second half focuses on the foreclosure crisis that accompanied the recession, touches upon reasons for this happening. Kinda of a Studs Terkel-lite type presentation.
Scott Schneider
Many years ago I read Barbara Garson's All the Livelong Day and loved it so I was excited to see a new book from her. I even went to an event with her at the AFL last month. This book interviews and tells personal stories of people affected by the Great Recession. It includes both old and young, rich and poor people. As such it documents the widespread destruction of the recession. But it is ultimately a pretty depressing read. Very few make it past their financial troubles. It doesn't give one...more
Lois Beaudrie

very interesting and informative.
Nicki Schwenkbeck
"The companies that wrote us off as workers now write us off as consumers. If you're not a worker, not a consumer, and you don't earn significant income from investments, then you don't have much of a place in capitalist society. In the course of this recession millions more of us have slipped into that no place. Most of us will still manage to eat and keep our televisions connected. But it can't be pleasant to live in a country whose elite have no regular use for us."
Barbara Garson
Down the Up E...more
Sara
Reading this book makes me want to throw it across the room and kick it a bit. The stories are infuriating, stressful, and aggravating, while simultaneously demonstrating the resilience and persistence of those who are convinced that hard work will pull them out of a ruined economy. Definitely not a fun read, but interesting to get some perspective on what else was happening during the years right after I graduated and was looking for work.
Connie Knapp
Barbara Garson makes an interesting case for the recession starting much sooner than we might think-policies from the Regan era are being felt today.
She tells the story from a "social history" point of view-we see the effects of fiscal and monetary policy through the eyes of those affected.
It makes for a very compelling read.
Lisa
Absorbing non-fiction, and a look into how the majority of people fared during the great recession. The author points out that the middle class has been losing ground for years, and uses examples to highlight this. Not academic at all, and easily readable. For anyone interested in reading non-fiction sociology that pertains to work.
Luke Winders
It was all fairly interesting but it gets the boost to 4 stars from 3 for the middle section on all the housing bullshit I was peripherally and slackerishly involved in for the last 5 years. Solano County is well represented with the woeful tale of a downtown Benicia condo and a sad depiction of good old Vallejo. Rep the V!
Jeff
I was drawn to this book because of my own experiences throughout this recession. I knew I wasn't unique but still wanted to hear other stories that the media was under-reporting if they bothered at all. I suppose it delivers some sort of comfort to read others trials and tribulations. I did enjoy the book.

Ang
Holy crap, this book is depressing. But one of the things that really comes through is the (sometimes stupid) resilience of Americans. And that's not a bad thing to read about.

But I do feel, after reading it, utterly hopeless. So you know, read at your own risk.
Tim Suddeth
Garson interviews people from different walks of life whose jobs, homes or investments were affected by the recession. Very true and interesting to see how people have accepted the changes they have endured. Good case studies but not very encouraging. Well written.
Mike Stolfi
Written in a readable style, another great book about the continuing decline of the social contract & why it will probably matter to you soon, if you're not bothered by these things already.
Marci
This is a scary & informative book. Anyone who wants to take a look at what this economic FUBAR is doing to Americans should read this book. Very riveting.
Jim
An assortment of sad stories told with with a soft and compassionate voice of people hit hard by the great recession that read as horror stories.
Les
This is a very insightful look at how the Great Recession has affected people from a variety of economic and social backgrounds.
Erik
Definitely worthy. It opened my eyes a few times.
Sarah Ewald
Sobering look at the recession.
Cathy Larson
Best non-fiction of the year
Jill
Jill added it
Aug 28, 2014
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