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The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True Story of America's Middle Class

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  109 ratings  ·  27 reviews
A vivid character-driven narrative, fused with important new economic and political reporting and research, that busts the myths about middle class decline and points the way to its revival.

For over a decade, Jim Tankersley has been on a journey to understand what the hell happened to the world's greatest middle-class success story -- the post-World-War-II boom that faded
Audiobook, Unabridged
Published August 11th 2020 by Hachette Audio
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Average rating 3.96  · 
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 ·  109 ratings  ·  27 reviews

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Start your review of The Riches of This Land: The Untold, True Story of America's Middle Class
Jason Furman
As I was reading this book I couldn’t help but think I was reading an excellent narrative journalistic account of the paper Hsieh et al published in Econometrica in 2019 finding that 20 to 40 percent of productivity growth in the half century following 1960 was due to “improved allocation of talent” as barriers to women, people of color and others were reduced—although not eliminated. Then halfway through the book Jim Tankersley takes a brief hiatus from narrative journalism to do an economics l ...more
Oct 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was pretty good and I enjoyed the stories. I was annoyed though how much he kept saying that "you're probably wrong about this" and then saying something that I actually was not wrong about. The whole premise of the book is that he's going to bust all the myths you believe, which is fine when it comes to common tropes--the main one being that when pundits talk about the struggling middle class, they leave out the huge Black and brown and female workers. That is a press problem, but it' ...more
Steve Fox
Dec 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Editor's Note: I am totally biased in my review. Author Jim Tankersley, who isn't all that much younger than me, will always be a "kid" as I first met him when he was a high school student intern at the News-Register newspaper in McMinnville. I was the sports editor at the N-R. I won't hold it against Jim for not mentioning me in the acknowledgements. He does acknowledge the impact interning during high school had on his future, crediting newspaper owner/publisher Jeb Bladine. I think his educat ...more
Aug 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So it is about 70 days until the election. This is one of the first policy/trade books addressing economic issues of importance for the election. The author is an economics and tax reporter for the New York Times. The focus of the book is on the “hollowing out” of the American middle class, in particular the sharp decline in the manufacturing sector for such reasons as globalization, offshoring, automation, and creative destruction/innovation that renders some sectors obsolete. These topics have ...more
Nov 15, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
I was given this book as a gift and didn't pick it up until after the 2020 election when I wanted to learn more about working class voters who are especially critical in the rust belt states. This book is written by Jim Tankersley, a New York Times economics reporter and discusses what led to the post WWII middle class expansion, why it contracted, the current state of middle class work and wages in the United States, why Trump appealed to some middle class voters, and whether any of his policie ...more
Michael Spikes
Sep 17, 2020 rated it liked it
Overall, an interesting approach to the question of what happened to America’s middle class. It’s was interesting to me to hear a journalist call upon research from economists so much in making the argument instead of only letting the stories of individuals do all of the talking. However, while the argument was compelling, and one that I agree with, it does highlight how easily one can pick and choose their chosen set of stats to make whatever point that they wish. That said however, I appreciat ...more
Oct 19, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Overall hot and cold on this book – as a self-described piece of narrative journalism Tankersley appears most interested in conveying a personal sense of the economic malaise in the US through a close reading of a few different regular folks while also introducing the reader to first person interviews with various talking heads and experts on the economy. In talking about the big issues and having the personal touch it often succeeds, but there’s a bit of over promising and under delivering on p ...more
Jul 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful, powerful and incredibly timely
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jim is a gifted story teller and has deep knowledge about the economic trends and challenges about which he writes. As an academic economist, I prefer the nuance and data of the economics papers he draws on, but I suspect most readers will prefer and appreciate the simple (sometimes too simplistic, I think) people driven approach of this “narrative journalism” piece. The book takes us through towns across America, meeting struggling middle class Americans; it also takes us to the office of Wilbu ...more
Misael G
I'm a self-described Econ/labor nerd. In this book, Jim Tankersley presents the challenges facing workers in the 21st Century as only an economic journalist could: with rigor, clarity, and memorable storytelling.

The post-WWII middle class, as it was understood to exist, has largely vanished. Gone are the middle-class manufacturing jobs for workers without a high school degree. Technological innovations have either replaced workers (mostly less-educated) or made them more productive (better educ
Jan 24, 2021 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Long on narrative, short on analysis. A handful of Sunday column character profiles padded out into a book. The late-middle where the author interviews Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, then does a post-mortem on Trump's economic campaign policy promises, is useful.

I try not to insist that every political or economic writer believe all the same things I believe, really I don't. But the author spends an entire chapter lamenting how hard it is to truly define what the "middle class" is. It is hard! H
Richard Thompson
I agree with most of what Mr. Tankersley has to say, but in the end this is just another popular book by a journalist. It is broadly written for emotional appeal without a lot of substance to back it up. It's largely anecdotal. I do think that the post WWII economic boom that drove the creation of much middle class propsperity was driven in significant part by the contributions of women and minorities. And I agree that further steps to create more oppotunity for women, minorities and immigrants ...more
Beata Fogarasi
Sep 13, 2020 rated it it was ok
[audiobook] I like Jim Tankersley's reporting a lot and try to read most of his articles, which is why I ignored my general feeling that 'current events books' are a waste of time. Unfortunately, most of this book is talking about what he will talk about, rather than actually laying things out. His strength, of course, is the personal stories and micro histories he highlights through his reporting. But the thought framework is extremely repetitive and very vague, and I don't think it adds a ton ...more
The Riches of This Land (Hardcover)
by Jim Tankersley

good stories but little about how to become part of the solution except everybody should innovate because since the 70's the US has done less and less to facilitate innovation

listen here: Dave Davies interviews JT

South Korea Leads World in Innovation as U.S. Exits Top Ten ... › news › articles › south-k...
1 day ago — The U.S., which topped th
Thank you netgalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.
This was a very informative and compelling book. The author brings up several good points on how diversity and gender equality enriches and uplifts the economy, how the incentives to big companies have not produced profitable jobs for the middle class and that the rise of Donald Trump in part was due to the middle class' frustration with broken promises, more work for less pay and a general sense of being unable to obtai
Rita Robinson
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Author Jim Tankersley provides a solid glimpse into the real world of what happened to the middle class with a look at possible ways of fixing it. An award-winning economist reporter, now with the New York Times, he speaks with compassion in The Riches of the Land as he recounts the lives of people caught on the edges. Years of his journalism savvy on the pluses and minuses of how different administrations have tried to handle the country's economy, show most ending poorly. Through his real life ...more
Oct 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
I found this an excellent read written by one who is obviously intelligent and educated. His premise felt researched and lived in those traits. Obviously we live the life we have inherited and learned. And really, how could we do otherwise irregardless of what sect of the country we fall in. Unless we have walked a hundred miles in those shoes, we don’t understand or even hear it. We take care of ourselves based on our experiences and don’t understand the others. I felt Tankersley expressed that ...more
Sep 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the first half, this is beautifully written book with sympathetic characters and a strong point of view. The idea is that right-wing politicians have it all wrong. In fact, the best economy has been when immigrants, low-income workers, and underrepresented minorities have gotten the most gains. I thought the policy history was one-sided--there must have been some policymakers that understood the truth and were drowned out by corporate-backed voices, but that's not acknowledged. ...more
Arlene S
Jan 14, 2021 added it
Shelves: economics
Thought provoking as far as it went -- limited focus; The and only idea -- we should better utilize best skills of every person for the greater economic good by working toward eliminating discrimination of women, immigrants, persons of color and non-college graduates. Written for general audience, author is a journalist for various national publicationsaybe. Maybe get the same idea just by reading his published articles. (?)
George E
Sep 02, 2020 rated it liked it
A very well-written, readable book. The cover says "what went wrong and how to get it back"....but he doesn't have any specifics, other than major changes in social thought. Granted, these changes would work, but how do you get greedy rich people to change?
Its a good description of how we got to where we , and the lies we have to put up with from our "leaders"
Oct 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very well written. In terms of the subject matter, it didn't offer anything new, as the topic has been written about ad nauseum. I'm tired of this story and I have little sympathy for the uneducated, white working class story as they continue to vote against their own interests and lament at how everyone else is the cause of their problems. ...more
Lois Whiteheaf
Oct 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Jim Tankersley is a great economics reporter. He provides a lot of detail from his reporting all around the country to create a highly interesting book about today’s middle class.
Bryan Byrer
Dec 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is an underrated 2020 release. This book threads the needle of accessibility while discussing complicated subject matter. The strength and weakness of this book are the same: the author synthesizes the data he’s reported and consumed in his 15 years of economic reporting into a narrative that is digestible for laypersons. Those more academically inclined will want for more hard data included in the main text instead of his bibliographic essay. All said, this book seek to correct the ma ...more
Jan 24, 2021 rated it liked it
This is a very interesting book but it was just a little slow and a little drawn out for me.
Jan 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
Recommended read if you want a bit more understanding of what ails America in the age of Trump. I wish he had footnotes with references though instead of the bibliography at the end of the book.
Jen Juenke
Jun 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Whew....let me just exhale for a second.
This book is SOOOOO TIMELY! It talks about the COVID 19 pandemic, yet it had not reached the riots.
Yet this book is a MUST read for everyone this year.
This book is not just about white middle America, but EVERYONE MIDDLE AMERICA!
I absolutely loved Ed Green's story and how the author really drove home the points he was making while writing this book.
I must admit, I was a bit skeptical of how to bring back economic growth, but by the end of the book...I am a
Aug 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. I couldn't put it down. ...more
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Jim Tankersley is the author of "The Riches of This Land" and an economics reporter for the New York Times. He covers the economic policies of the Trump administration and their effects on working people, the long-running and persistent inequities in the American economy, and, most recently, the nation's spiral into recession amid the coronavirus pandemic.

​A son of small-town Oregon, he has writte

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