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America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  64 ratings  ·  16 reviews
In this third volume of his award-winning American Crisis series, James Gustave Speth makes his boldest and most ambitious contribution yet. He looks unsparingly at the sea of troubles in which the United States now finds itself, charts a course through the discouragement and despair commonly felt today, and envisions what he calls America the Possible, an attractive and p ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 25th 2012 by Yale University Press
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Sarah Guldenbrein
Dec 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This didn't blow my mind like the works of Juliet Schor, but there's some great stuff in here! I particularly appreciated the sections on military spending and the structure of American democracy. Predictably, the section on consumption was my favorite and got me most excited. ...more
Jake Berlin
a maddening and yet invigorating look at the problems facing america, and potential solutions to them. conservatives will likely hate this book, and although liberals might be familiar with many of the ills that speth describes, the latter are rarely laid out so coherently or organized. i expected the second half of the book -- the possible solutions -- to be a head-in-the-clouds dream, but it was surprisingly grounded. speth quotes liberally from experts throughout, which i think lends a good d ...more
May 30, 2012 rated it liked it
I liked to read this book where a different future seems possible but I've not enough information about the "real possibilities" for this change to come. Anyway it was a really intriguing reading even if I'm happy that U.S.A. are not my country.

Nov 05, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: academic, non-fiction

James Gustave Speth, one of America's treasures of wisdom who has given service to both the US and the United Nations, is former head of Yale's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Founder and president of the World Resources Institute, current Professor of Law at the Vermont Law School, and author of AMERICA THE POSSIBLE. This compact non-fiction volume was published in fall 2012, and is the third book of his non-fiction American Crisis trilogy.

This is my first read in his series.
May 20, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a nice synthesis of the issues and a clear exposition of the goals. Speth even tried to be optimistic ...

"The language we use and the messages we seek to convey are integral to political success. I can see clearly now that we environmentalists have been too wonkish and too focused on technical fixes. We have not developed the capacity to speak in a language that aims straight at the American heart, resonates with both core moral values and common aspirations, and projects a positive and
Adam Ross
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Speth is a prolific environmentalist advocate who served under President Jimmy Carter and advised the UN on sustainable development. In this book he is interested in something much broader than simply environmental problems, which his last two books have been about. In this book, he is setting forth a manifesto for "America the Possible." I picked it up because I have been reading a lot about the problems facing America and the world in the present moment and was looking for something a bit more ...more
Luke Lavin
Feb 05, 2014 rated it liked it
Speth says everything you'd expect a true 70's era progressive to say in light of today's ascendant problems in America. Thus, his critiques fall into essentially three categories:

1. True/desirable, but politically difficult (e.g. campaign finance reform)
2. Unproven assumptions (e.g. building a huge progressive movement is the only way to counter the Tea Party et. al. and create real change. I.e., Speth believes inside and/or incremental change isn't possible on any meaningful scale).
3. Overwrou
Anne Ipsen
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
This sequel to "Bridge at the Edge of the World" (publ. in 2008) by the same author disappointed. I expected new insight in view of the current financial crisis, but found the same hodgepodge of evidence that the world is going to pot. Speth continues to make a compelling argument that drastic overhaul of the US and international economies, geo-politics, and over-consumerism are overdue, but the long-range goals he presents are more discouraging than helpful in their overwhelmingly apparent impr ...more
Suzan Hill
Mar 05, 2015 rated it really liked it
Much easier to get through than the Klein book! Speth inspired me with the concept of the "dam of denial" about climate change - which he predicts will break within 3-5 years (might take longer here in the US of Affluence). His historical perspectve also suggests that once the dam breaks, human creativity can possibly mobilize to reverse some of the environmental degradation and social injustice that the global north has wreaked upon the planet. From this misanthrope, maybe, just maybe, it's ok ...more
Nov 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"The United States is one of the principal reasons the world does not now have a World Environment Organization"

"American economic and political life is infected with a bad case of militarization..."

"We live and work in a system of political economy that cares profoundly about profit and growth and about international power and prestige."

"The central liberal truth is that politics can change culture and save it from itself."
Joe Sherman
Mar 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Speth has impressive credentials. He has worked in the belly of the beast -- serving in several administrations in Washington. His analysis of the sickness and dysfunction of the USA is on target. I do not share his optimism that the sickness brought on by the cancer of capitalism in this country is curable. It is too far advanced. But hope is always worthwhile, even for a dying patient. I recommend this book.
Dec 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: economy
Nothing here that I haven't come across previously. I'd recommend Robert Reich's books before this one. ...more
Janet Wise
Jun 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
“America the Possible: Manifesto for a New Economy” is an outstanding 2012 examination and manifesto for change for a future we want for our children and grandchildren.
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Just finished another book by Gus Speth.... informative and inspirational!
Oct 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Makes me want to go to Vermont and study with Speth.
Nov 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A solid prescription for how to fix America that's possible. Chapter 1 will open your eyes. The final chapter will give you hope. In between is a policy wonk's heaven. ...more
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