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One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy

3.88 of 5 stars 3.88  ·  rating details  ·  446 ratings  ·  38 reviews
In a book that has been raising hackles far and wide, the social critic Thomas Frank skewers one of the most sacred cows of the go-go '90s: the idea that the new free-market economy is good for everyone.

Frank's target is "market populism"--the widely held belief that markets are a more democratic form of organization than democratically elected governments. Refuting the i
Paperback, 464 pages
Published September 18th 2001 by Anchor (first published November 2000)
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It took me three tries to make it all the way through to the end of this sucker—it's of that lick'em-and-stick'em lunge-and-thrust apt to appeal more to the younger members of the cinched-lip smirkers, and I read it in my mid-thirties when weariness was settling into my bones to stay—for this sophomore effort from Thomas Frank has its faults: too repetitive, at times too trite and, at others, too simplified, and Frank strains too hard now and again in playing for those crowds he knows will be la ...more
Jul 23, 2011 Jon added it
I always wondered who reads the many how-to-get-rich books in the Business section at the library I work for. One person who has apparently read them all--or as many as he could stand without going insane--is Thomas Frank, whose analysis of feel-good business lit. is one of the high points of this left-oriented screed. Apparently those books have two different messages: for workers, shut up and take your lumps, for managers, here's how to screw over the workers. Frank's attack on capitalist exce ...more
One Market Under God (written 2001) is a detailed analysis of business culture in the United States (and occasionally Britain), with respect to the significant overhaul of self-image in the post-reagan era. It finds bleak, yet often darkly funny, evidence of a deluded PR-barrage which has attempted cultural appropriation of populist, democratic language to obfuscate the self-interested motives of US elites.

Yet more sinisterly, it explains how this religious enthusiasm for the wisdom of the "Mar
Frank's book is a study of the pro-business, pro-"free-market", new-economy-and-stock-market-worshipping rhetoric of the 1990s. It was written in 2000. The overall theme of the book is that in the 1990s, business and its friends in the media made a renewed push to claim that they were for the little guy, that they were against elitism, that they were in favor of breaking up hierarchy wherever it existed. Ads and editorials gushed that now that everyone owned stocks, and everyone was an entrepren ...more
The Capital Institute
Frank argues in One Market Under God that the “new economy” that emerged in the 1990’s was not as successful and beneficial as the mainstream might think, and that market populism is a faulty theory, promoted by corporate and partisan interests. Frank pointed out the relationship between banking practices in the 90s with those in the 1930s, and showed the way the income disparity between the very rich and very poor has steadily increased.
The New York Times, considers the book enlightening and im
Frank's second book covers the stock market rise of the 90s, the first dot com boom and the popular intellectual climate in which it all thrived, which he dubs "market populism." The phrase epitomizes the stance of everyone from the "gurus" of business writing, elected representatives, and the advertisements of the stodgiest companies, repositioning themselves as "revolutionary", all of which can be summarized as "a completely unfettered free market is the only true source of democracy."

The book
A very lengthy explanation of why unregulated markets were allowed to slowly erode American workers' compensation and security to enrich those who employed them and profited from speculation and ridiculous theories concocted to justify unrestrained greed. Not fun reading, but required anyway.
C. Scott
Kind of disappointing if I'm honest. This is the third book I've ready by Thomas Frank and I really like his work. What's the Matter with Kansas? and The Wrecking Crew were terrific and the essays he writes nowadays are also great. This was Frank's first book I believe, and it shows. I don't think he had really found his groove yet and you can still see a little bit of the post-doctoral academic in his writing style.

The content of the book is solid, but it takes some endurance to get through it
Jan 09, 2013 josh rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to josh by: Jill D
First up - the book ends on page 358 with the next 40pp consisting of end notes and another 15pp as the index. 414 total, not 464.

On to the writing.

I find myself agreeing with a majority of Frank's arguments / points (enough that it would be filibuster-proof in the Senate), but I didn't care for the manner in which those arguments were made.

Frank is incredibly wordy and verbose; this is made worse by the intentional denseness of his writing style. He relies on end notes quite heavily. This would
For someone that was mostly too young to process this aspect of development in our society's collective attitude about the economy, this was a great book to read. It explains so much about where we are today and how ingrained some attitudes seem to be without much explanation. My only complaint is the book was a bit longer than I felt it needed to be to accomplish what Frank set out to do here.
Adam Ross
A really interesting book examining the way the market was treated in the decade of the 1990s. Frank uses wit and scholarship to show that everyone, left, right, and center, turned the market into an idol to be worshipped, and that corporate PR used the language of the 60s counterculture to reinforce the system of inequality already in place. Always captivating, he shows just how pervasive this idea has become.
Danny Abramowicz
I think I prefer Frank more as an essayist than a book-length writer, if this is any indication. I think he could have made his points (and they are mostly points I agree with) more effectively with half as many examples drawn from marginal seeming ad campaigns, remainder-table CEO hagiographies, and long forgotten business mag special editions. And 50% less snark. Yes, the old understanding of the cause of populism has been hijacked and turned on its ear- and the "new consensus" get pulled more ...more
Josephus FromPlacitas
A great piece from the halcyon days of The Baffler. I actually interviewed Frank when he was promoting this book and put it on the radio. I'll try to find my review I wrote for it when it came out and post it here.

It's funny how his newer stuff -- What's The Matter With Kansas, The Wrecking Crew, which you could more or less characterize as "more partisan" without meaning it as an insult -- has made him something of a star, while the earlier books, oriented more toward economic democracy, fle
Josh Oberman
There's something refreshing about Thomas Frank's overall approach that's hard to put my finger on...the sort of jargon-free-yet-intelligent-witty-and-to-the-point style that offers a sort of antidote to other writing by, let's call them generally, "people with PhDs". Still, this book becomes repetitive with it's satires and ancedotes from 90s management theory, advertisting, etc. Frank does a fine job of proving his central thesis--that the ideology of market populism rose wildly in the 90s and ...more
Mike Bascom
It was amusing to read how "In Europe people see right through public relations advertising" while most Americans do not.

Thomas Frank is the shiznit!
Susan Steed
Sep 05, 2015 Susan Steed added it
Shelves: skim-read
I read most of this ages ago. I don't really recall it being life changing and it's a point lots of people are making.
Andrew Canfield
Thomas Frank is a writer whose stuff I can enjoy in small doses. He doesn't write with quite the power of a Thomas Friedman, and his books remind more of sitting through a lecture at UT Arlington UTA than they do anything else. The prose is witty only rarely, although he does at least make an effort to achieve this.

I did learn a good bit about the financial crisis from reading this, but it was a bit of a clunk read and could have been a little more focused in the hands of a more skilled writer.
Beth Barnett
A very witty and enjoyable exposé of the marketing theories and economic mumbo-jumbo of business writing gurus. Frank critiques the idea of "market populism" and the libertarian mentality of market cheerleaders. He predicted, and explained the busted stock market bubble before it blew out. Frank explains how history shows this kind of market mania has happened before, and will happen again. Armed with Frank's entertaining book, you can see it coming all the better next time.
I am giving this book far more stars than it deserves because it's one of the only dissections of the cult of free market internet driven economics of the 1990's. That he endlessly repeats himself with the same vitreous tone that makes small (baffler) pieces wonderful.. in book form it's stomach churning. Like a 700 Club episode. First 60 pages and you've firmly grasped everything you need to know. Unfortunately you really do need to know.
Ben Byrne
Was decent but not actually the book I wanted to be reading, which is a critique of "market populism" rather than dissection of its rise to dominance. Some chapters were much more interesting than others... the management theory chapter, for example, was very predictable. But later chapters, such as the one touching on academia, were better.
A silly tiring rant against market populism. Reading it was a waste of time; I learned very little except that Thomas Frank thinks himself very witty. His formula is to pair an inane quote with shrill mockery and then repeat. This loses its edge after a chapter or two.
Paul T
Oh, you're a clever one...having time to both play baseball for the White Sox AND to criticize the social attitudes of the roaring nineties. Wait a minute...was that Frank Thomas or Thomas Frank that goes by the moniker "the big hurt"?
Molly Brodak
ALL of Thomas Frank's books are worth reading...look for him in Harper's occasionally too. Somehow he sees the big picture--the culture of commerce and what it means. Great stuff. Will make you angry, in a good way.
It's a good book, and worth reading, but to be honest it gets a bit repetitious. Once you grasp Frank's main arguments about the perils of free markets you've got it in a nutshell and can stop reading.
An important book, written by a profoundly boring writer. Even his send-up of cultural studies has all the excitement of Lou Dobbs reading the NYT obituaries ad infinitum.
Leonard Pierce
In this book, Frank is as clear-eyed as ever about the repackaging of free-market capitalism as the last wave of populism. Not a feel-good read, but an important one.
Jeff Bush
A brilliant analysis of the extreme dogmatism in market capitalism. Frank should release an undated version of this book. It's needed now more than ever.
I love thomas frank's books. This one gets into the economic changes of the 90s. do not read if you want to keep a positive impression of Bill Clinton.
Clever, well thought out critique on capitalism, business culture, co-option of rad, free minded culture by new tech bros. Relevant.
One Market Under God: Extreme Capitalism, Market Populism, and the End of Economic Democracy by Thomas Frank (2000)
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Thomas Frank is the author of What’s the Matter with Kansas? and One Market Under God. The founding editor of The Baffler and a contributing editor at Harper’s, he is also a Wall Street Journal weekly columnist. He has received a Lannan award and been a guest columnist for The New York Times. Frank lives in Washington, D.C.
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