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

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  7,239 ratings  ·  926 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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Henning The audiobook isn't 14 pages long either. It shouldn't be there. Playtime doesn't belong in "number of pages" field.…moreThe audiobook isn't 14 pages long either. It shouldn't be there. Playtime doesn't belong in "number of pages" field.(less)

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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 politici
Oct 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"People are beginning to become disturbingly comfortable with a kind of official hypocrisy
.... we've become numb to the idea that rights aren't absolute but are enjoyed on a kind of
sliding scale...."
-Matt Taibbi.. 'The Divide: American
Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap'

"My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is
not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice."
-Bryan Stevenson.. 'Just Mercy: A Story
of Justice and Redemption'

Matt Taib
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 ris
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
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

When I first started reading this book I thought it was gonna be a liberal’s take on the gap between the wealthy and the poor. I soon found out that the author has definitely done his homework and lays the blame equally across all party lines. This was an extremely eye-opening book. It is not an easy read and there are parts that I don’t quite understand since I don’t have a background dealing in stocks or have a firm understanding of what goes on in Wall Street. But the premise of the book is e
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If you have a lot of it, [money] the legal road you get to travel is well lit and beautifully maintained. If you don’t, it’s a dark alley and most Americans would be shocked to find out what’s at the end of it.
Taibbi clearly describes the sharp divide in our system of justice, detailing how individuals leading large banks stole billions of dollars, unpunished, while others (poor and usually black) are hauled off to jail for crimes as nonsensical as "blocking pedestrian traffic." Some of the st
Stephanie *Eff your feelings*

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
Mar 23, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Matt Taibbi’s 2014 call to arms is a strident message about the horrid discrepancy between justice for the rich (especially white rich) and the poor, who bear the brunt of injustices and inequalities in the justice system.

Well researched but also highlighting his personality and the passion he feels for his subject, Taibbi describes how the odds are stacked against the blue collar, minority folks while white collar crime gets a much more hands off country club approach.

I spent nine years doing c
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
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
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
Apr 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Alongside 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
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
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
Jun 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliantly readable take on systemically enforced inequality in America, particularly the failure to jail any banksters after the 2008 crash.
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
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
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
The economic crash of 2008 brought the term "too big to fail" into common usage. This book describes how it came to be that huge financial companies are able to break the law with impunity in order to cheat and steal billions from the public at large.

While the judicial and law enforcement systems in this country expend huge amounts of efforts at taxpayer expense to punish the most meager of offenses by the poorest and most disadvantaged in our society – those who completely lack the means to fig
May 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My first book by this author and definitely not my last. Finally a book devoted to the insanely corrupt criminal justice system of America in comparison to the wealthiest pirates (bankers) and Wall Street douches. How “investigators” burst into the homes of welfare recipients and actively search for any evidence to show of falsifying documents.... Yeah man the single mom who got 300$ in food stamps is really what we need to be paying attention too not the bankers who destroyed pensions, homes an ...more
A society hyper-normalized to use individual wealth to measure success tends to accept and often promote inequality. But you might reply: what's wrong with inequality, are you just envious of people better than you?

Thankfully, Taibbi has the patience to play your game by tossing it back in your face. Here's what a two-tier society looks like in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Give it a go before you resume your boot-licking.

...I must be channeling my inner Taibbi. Hopefully, thi
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. ...more
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It will piss you off but you need to be pissed off over the situations highlighted in this book. Read it.
Feb 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, politics
Some books about current and/or political events become quickly dated. Even though "The Divide" by Matt Taibbi is now six years old, it is as important today as ever. Taibbi is an award-winning journalist and writer. He tackles some of the most important issues of our time. In "The Divide", he documents in vivid detail the unequal treatment rendered to the powerful (rich) and the powerless (poor) in the United States justice system in the twenty-first century. His research is amazing and his wri ...more
Kate Laws
Jul 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is the disgusting, sordid tale of what passes for justice in America. It is beyond upsetting that we have now institutionalized "too big to fail", and that the consequences of that are far beyond some organizations (Bank of America, Chase, Goldman Sachs, etc.) being bullet proof. When the big fish are untouchable law enforcement doesn't just twiddle its thumbs, it goes even more disproportionately after the small fish. This book details unbelievably bad, antisocial, and unquestionably illic ...more
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17 likes · 5 comments
“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.” 15 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.” 14 likes
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