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The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap

4.20  ·  Rating details ·  6,142 ratings  ·  806 reviews

A scathing portrait of an urgent new American crisis

Over the last two decades, America has been falling deeper and deeper into a statistical mystery:
Poverty goes up. Crime goes down. The prison population doubles.
Fraud by the rich wipes out 40 percent of t
Audiobook, Unabridged, 14 hours
Published April 8th 2014 by Random House Audio (first published April 3rd 2014)
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4.20  · 
Rating details
 ·  6,142 ratings  ·  806 reviews

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Will Byrnes
There is no law, only power.
The author looks at some of the details of how this is manifested in the USA, and offers, in addition, some insight into the psychology of criminal targeting. Matt Taibbi is widely known and respected as a hard-hitting author and financial reporter/editor for Rollingstone Magazine. His previous book, Griftopia, went into considerable detail about how debt is used by large corporations to ensnare customers, how commodity speculation screws us all, how some politician
May 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Taibbi updated some poverty and wealth gap "stats" for my Intro SOC class here, and reminds me of the Country-Western song about in the honky-tonk the wealthy person dances and the poor person pays the band. Beyond the drive to alcoholic drinking and heavy drugs, how the poor also pays is through receiving disproportional punishment in the U.S. "system". The poor have large jail and fine punishments for sometimes irrelevant and trivial transgressions of local laws, while the wealthy exhibit trem ...more
Matt Taibbi's previous books were fun to read, riotous accounts of populist anger, and part of the thrill was seeing what incendiary language he'd come up with for the next corporate criminal in his sights. Vampire squid!

The Divide is Taibbi's best book, an essential, despairing look at the two completely different ways we prosecute crimes committed by poor people and by super-rich people, primarily because Taibbi's writing itself has matured.

Make no mistake, the white-hot rage is still very muc
Elyse Walters
Jul 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I debated about reading this book - when it was picked for our 'non-fiction' read
with my local book club.

I read 'Will's review here on Goodreads. It inspired me. So between Will's review...( giving me a better context for this book), plus local pressures, and personal internal 'self' pressure
---thinking....."this might be valuable for I felt some type of moral & emotional responsibility to 'try' to inform myself better about the social issues which can make
people's blood pressure
aPriL does feral sometimes
All I feel is outrage. And despair.

Matt Taibbi has written a book which explains in layman's terms how United States citizens and many around the world were conspired against by Wall Street banks, brokers and investment businesses. If you were one of the those who ended up bankrupt, or in foreclosure, or if you lost your job because the investment plan of your employer disappeared overnight in the crash of 2008, this will explain some of how it happened. The variety of tricks and lies are amazi
Stephanie *Very Stable Genius*

Oh boy.

I will have to take a breath, process this for a bit before I can get my thoughts on this one in line.

In short: We suck (U.S.) and we're doomed.
Sometimes the rating for a book is very heavily dependent upon timing. This is an excellent book. Well worth reading. I listened to the audible version which was excellent.

The first thing that comes across from the very beginning is that Matt Taibbi is very angry. He’s angry about the systemic injustices, about the unfairness and the outright prejudices within this society and the way the justice system is rigged. But what he is most angry about is the inequality between the poor and wealthy th
Lauren Cecile
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This should be required reading. Most people have no clue as revealed by voting patterns. Many vote against their economic best interest. Their world view is tainted by what they can "see" and what the media tells them. They can "see" someone using food stamps in line in front of them in the grocery store and be resentful. They don't "see" that Exxon gets billions in subsidies or that many corporations pay zero taxes. The average person is taught by rich people to believe they would be better of ...more
Apr 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
This is the kind of book that I hate to love. I've read a lot of Taibbi's Rolling Stone pieces, so I knew more-or-less what to expect. For the most part, he didn't disappoint. The book subtitles itself as an exploration of the deepening schisms in American society and the ways in which they are reflected in the US system of justice. And it is that, but Taibbi's long experience writing about the criminal behavior of virtually every big bank on the planet has gotten in his head. His tales of the B ...more
Aug 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Matt Taibbi is intelligent. Matt Taibbi is diligent. Matt Taibbi is angry. Now he has ratcheted up my anger as well. That said, I am not sure whether I should or should not thank Will Byrnes for getting me to read this book. I will ask my cardiologist.

Be prepared. Taibbi piles one news story on top of an interview on top of some research to come up with a weight of evidence that sits on your chest making difficult to grab a breath. He approaches his topic of the “wealth gap” from various perspec
Aaron Arnold
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As perhaps the most fully realized book Taibbi has written so far, The Divide retains all the markers of his signature style - the specific personal faces on abstract trends, the outraged tone, the hilariously inventive ways of insulting people - and matches them to a simple but powerful idea about how American society is quietly sorting itself into two different moral landscapes. The idea of "two Americas" is quite old, of course, but one important manifestation of our recent slide into a neo-G ...more
Jason Mcclure
Apr 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book should be required reading for all Americans.
Matt Taibbi really illustrated the division between the rich and the poor in this country. Specifically, the way the legal system handles white collar crime and blue collar crime.

He paints a vivid picture of actual instances where the nations millionaire hedge fund managers and corporate pirates repeatedly steal MILLIONS of dollars from pension funds, businesses, IRAs and Start-ups without spending any time in court (forget about actual jail
Sep 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Why the US prison population is brimming while the crime rate is declining and why there have been no Wall Street prosecutions in the aftermath of the swindle that destroyed homes and savings had not been explained to my satisfaction until I read this book. Matt Taibbi presents the structures, culture and attitudes that ensnare poor and mostly minority Americans for petty "crimes" and contrasts them to the parallel structures, culture and attitudes that allow white collar perpetrators to go unpu ...more
May 23, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you're trying to achieve a deeper sense of calm in your life, stay far, far away from Matt Taibbi's The Divide, a trenchant portrait of how America's terrible income gap has seen a concurrent widening of its even-more-terrible "justice gap". Basically: the rich are not only getting much, much richer, they're also getting away with (metaphoric) murder ALL DAY EVERY DAY; while the poor, as always, are getting fucked, though now more routinely, more efficiently, and with more devastating consequ ...more
May 06, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Honestly torn between giving a 4 or 2 star review, so I'll just go with the average.

The message the author was trying to hammer home was very clear, and it speaks well to the book to remain perfectly focused on spreading this message. He lets you know straight up how he feels about the problem and about those he believes that both caused the problem and those who essentially do nothing about it. And if you fully agree with him, the book is an enticing read and will captivate you as well as galva
Jun 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Divide is the most current and the most important as it shows, to crudely paraphrase Taibbi’s thesis, the move of America towards a dystopia. An oligarchy that is criminalizing being poor by intertwining the social safety net with law enforcement and refusal to prosecute financial crimes criminally (only seeking fines). Taibbi gives us a tour of the bureaucracy of welfare, stop and frisk, immigration laws of Georgia, and other stops. He uses situations that seem worthy of the fiction of Hell ...more
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Besides America’s growing income gap that Matt Taibbi talks about at length in this, his best book to date, there is also a huge lack of empathy in our country. This almost complete lack of caring and understanding for the poor is what has fueled our war against them in the past 30 years or so. We have all but declared that being poor is a crime.

The problem is that more and more people, people who once considered themselves immune to the ravages of poverty are now finding that they are being ch
Ron Davidson
Apr 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Written by one of the few real journalists left in the United States, the book gives a thorough description of the inherent injustice of the American justice system. In a society where, to use the infamous expression, "greed is good," and virtue is defined by dollar figures, where the poor are treated with contempt -- guilty of something, usually just being poor -- Taibbi succeeds in showing how these injustices have been incorporated into the system, to benefit the rich and powerful and persecu ...more
Biblio Files (takingadayoff)
May 01, 2014 rated it really liked it
It's not enough that poor people in America are at a financial disadvantage -- journalist Matt Taibbi makes the case that being poor is costly in other ways unique to them. Poor people go to jail in numbers way out of proportion to their numbers, and for offenses that anyone who can pay a lawyer would avoid jail time for. In fact, the jails in America are holding a record number of people, at the same time that the crime rate is at a record low.

Taibbi examines the reasons for this and finds the
Roger Asbury
Apr 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: economics
I seem to have this habit of picking up books that both depress and anger me. This book certainly fits the bill.

This book details the ever widening gulf between the rich and poor and how the justice system is geared against the poor. It shows, quite conclusively, how giant corporates can steal billions, and be quite open about it, and suffer few, individual, consequences. On the other hand, a person on welfare, who has committed no crime, can be run through the criminal justice system and poten
Taibbi documents how we have developed two sets of justice in our country. If you are rich, you can rob millions and get away with it. If you are poor, your can be arrested for jaywalking.

Why I started this book: Everybody raves about it, and I was prepared to join the band wagon.

Why I finished it: I almost didn't. Not because it's bad but because every time I picked it up, my blood pressure would climb. So frustrating! America, pull yourself together. Just like your unconscious health habits ha
Dec 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I thought I knew everything that was in this book because I follow all of these issues very closely so I was putting off reading the book. I'm so glad I finally got to it. This is fantastic writing and the juxtaposition of the stories really brings it home in a way that reading about this stuff academically never will. Highly recommended. Will make your blood boil, but in a good way.
Michael Oswald
May 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the most depressing book I've read. It's also the kind of book that should be required reading in school. Instead kids will watch films like The Wolf of Wall Street where wall street douche bags are glamorized (sort of).
The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi
“The Divide” is an eye-opening book that paints a clear picture of what is the biggest divide in our society, the wealth gap. Investigative journalist Matt Taibbi takes the reader on a journey of social injustice. Through a series of heartbreaking stories, Taibbi clearly shows the impact that this divide has on our citizens from each perspective. This troubling 448-page book includes the following nine chapters: 1. Uninten
Will Ejzak
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
A totally lucid and readable account of law enforcement's egregiously polarized attitudes toward the rich and poor. Taibbi's lengthy descriptions of convoluted Wall Street crimes are written with casual vitriol and a valiant commitment to accessibility. His stories from the worlds of welfare and illegal immigration are as wrenching and infuriating as they need to be. His main thesis--that poor communities are repeatedly chewed up and spit out by law enforcement while white collar criminals aren' ...more
Ted Lehmann
Apr 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Matt Taibbi's new book The Divide:American Justice in the Age of the Wealth Gap (Random House; Spiegal & Grau, 2014, 448 pages, $27.00) is certain to make you angry, whatever side of the political spectrum you inhabit. The simple thesis of the book is that America's justice system is deeply divided along lines of race, culture, class, and (most of all) wealth into two distinct groups receiving distinctly different treatment at the hands of the police, the courts, and the political system. Th
Jun 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have never yet read a book by Matt Taibbi that was not worthy of five stars, and if I could give it more, I would.

A masterful job of research and writing is exemplified in this book. He contrasts and compares our justice system, which is definitely unfair and lopsided.

He gives example after example throughout the book, alternating between cases where poverty-stricken citizens are brought before the courts for the most inane reasons, and the end result is always unduly harsh punishment. And o
Justin Powell
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
"Poverty goes up; crime goes down; Prison populations doubles"

"Fraud by the rich wipes out 40% of the worlds wealth. The rich get massively richer. No one goes to jail."

This book is an exploration and a story of what Matt calls, "The Divide", in modern day America. What we have seen is an ever increasing "divide" in the enforcement of the law between the wealthy (big banks, or Wall street), and the poor (welfare "queens", blacks, Hispanics). In the extensive 412 page story, he is able to make co
While I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, which isn’t exactly true, this is the 103 book I’ve read this year (so far) and fifteen of them have been non-fiction, but this is the only one that can be called economics, or sociology. Before I began reading I thought I’d read the first 50 or so pages and skip the rest.

That’s not what I did; I read it cover to cover; I couldn’t put it down, even as it sickened, upset and depressed me. I know this stuff, if not the details, but I don’t usually see it so
Lou Chiaramonte, Jr.
Does the Punishment Fit the Crime? Or Are Certain Crimes Even Punished?

This book isn't a Progressive social treatise dealing with the deep questions of economic social justice. Rather, it is a book dealing with how enforcement and punishiment under the LAW differs wildly depending on one's economic station within society.

The author's thesis basically asserts that there are two systems of legal systems at work in the United States today. There is a punitive system that hits the poor hard for non
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“Twenty-six billion dollars of fraud: no felony cases. But when the stakes are in the hundreds of dollars, we kick in 26,000 doors a year, in just one county.” 12 likes
“Our prison population, in fact, is now the biggest in the history of human civilization. There are more people in the United States either on parole or in jail today (around 6 million total) than there ever were at any time in Stalin’s gulags. For what it’s worth, there are also more black men in jail right now than there were in slavery at its peak.” 10 likes
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