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Pity the Billionaire: The Hard-Times Swindle and the Unlikely Comeback of the Right Paperback – 12 Jan 2012

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harvill Secker (12 Jan. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846556023
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846556029
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 1.8 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 170,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"No one fools Thomas Frank, who is the sharpest, funniest, most intellectually voracious political commentator on the scene. In Pity the Billionaire he has written a brilliant expose of the most breath-taking ruse in American political history: how the right turned the biggest capitalist breakdown since 1929 into an opportunity for themselves." (Barbara Ehrenreich)

"Brisk and searing and deeply informed by the lessons of history (shocking notion!), Frank's latest guide for the perplexed is nothing less than a precious gift to us. Read it, and finally--You. Will. Understand." (Rick Perlstein)

"Frank is one of the best leftwing writers America has produced" (Nick Cohen Observer)

"Trenchant and witty" (Alexandra Frean The Times)

Book Description

Insightful, infectiously furious and funny: why the worst collapse since the 1930s has brought about the revival of conservatism.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Lark TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 23 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is perhaps an example of polemical publishing at its best, with a target audience perhaps of those likely to already agree with the conclusions of the author, either completely or in part, but it is still worth reading.

If you do share the opinions of the author you are likely to find the content interesting, even useful if you are the sort of person who is likely to engage in discussions of its topic matter. Frank has done his research and it is not simply an intellectual bemoaning the confounding of their hopes and expectations.

It is as impassioned a plee as it is reasoned an argument and if you are a fan of Frank's or similar polemics then you will not be disappointed.

I would recommend this to as wide a readership as possible however and do believe that anyone who considers themselves to be of contrary opinion could benefit from reading it. There are perhaps valid reasons for making common political cause with the billionaires of the book's title if you are not one of them but Frank's points are not merely envious or loathing or anything of that sort.

The book has a good contents and excellent index, there are very good endnotes too. The style and pace of the narrative are good while chapters are structured with the use of subheadings and centreline spacing for the longer citations from other sources. This makes it an easy read to quickly progress through or, if you are a student or speed reading, to discover the central and most salient points. Recommended.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Dalby VINE VOICE on 25 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an easy access alternative to "The Strange Non-Death of Neo-Liberalism". It is written from a US perspective and so many of the cast of character will be unfamiliar to British readers but the way the New Right has seized the agenda from the liberal/social movements during the current economic crisis is very much the same both sides of the Atlantic. In that we do share a special relationship.

The crisis was the fault of unregulated capitalism, it was the banks and the financial services industry that took the world economy to the brink and that continues to do so. But the swing of public opinion has been to elect governments of the right and this is not just the Tea Party and GOP resurgence in the 2010 mid-term elections, but also in the UK and Spain governments have been elected that want small government, less intervention and who support business.

Frank explains how all this can happen, how the Right have used rhetoric to turn the story to paint themselves and capitalism as the victim and not the cause. Mostly it is blistering attack on that rhetoric and the lack of facts to support it. His particular targets are Glenn Beck and the Tea Party whose continuous stream of lies and mis-direction he tries to unravel. Last of all he shows why the liberal/socialist response has failed and how the Democrats have become mumbo-jumbo speaking technocrats helpless in front of a populist movement. The spreadsheet and flow-chart pushing intellectuals who have forgotten how to fight.

I think it is a great book and I wish more people would read it. Then perhaps we might get a real movement for change.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D&D TOP 50 REVIEWER on 18 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
later note: Red and Blue and Broke All Over by Charles Goyette goes somewhat deeper but Macrowikinomics gives a better idea of the out-of-the box thinking that's essential. Griftopia: A Story of Bankers, Politicians, and the Most Audacious Power Grab in American History by Matt Taibbi (over 200 4* and 5* reviews on Amazon.com) also discusses how Americans have been conned by the republicrats (over here, it's "labcons").

This book turned out to be a sadly shallow look at the reasons for the rebirth of right-wing populism.

Just two highly relevant areas completely overlooked by the author:

- unexplained exit poll "discrepancies" versus charges of election frauds: for instance, the exit polls of those states with paper ballots were measurably closer than those that used paperless systems.
and
- the heartsickness that has been sweeping across the heartland of the US has been ignored by the focus on socioeconomic issues while the deepest unmet needs of constituents are primarily psycho-spiritual in nature: neither red nor blue parties address worldly issues of social justice and economic balance in any depth whatsoever. Our deepest needs are genuine community and a tangible spiritual experience, areas shunned by politicians.
on
Instead, chapter after chapter is offered on the endless scams perpetrated by the "Right". They repeatedly scream that, free from regulation "everyone would live in harmony with nature and the intent of the Founders" and no one would be cheated, no insider trading would happen, no mortgages would be mis-sold. This is a hallucination of utopian capitalism - created by those who don't want us to notice that, without regulation, exploitation and corruption are inevitable.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By russell clarke TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 12 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
How about this an explanation for the 2008 financial crash. The reason it occurred is that the banks and financial systems were not free enough . That government regulation and intervention stymied the markets and prevented them operating to their full potential.
Economic catastrophe usually, you would suspect would bring forth mass social protest and demands for change. But when Thomas Frank set out in 2009 to look for signs of blue collar American discontent, all he could find were loud demands that the economic system be made even harsher on the recession's victims and that society's traditional winners receive even grander prizes and be given even more freedom to carry out their capitalist economic miracle.
The American Right, which had seemed moribund after the election of 2008, was bizarrely reinvigorated by the arrival of recession and the following austerity measures . The Tea Party movement demanded not that Americans question the system that had collapsed with such disastrous consequences but that they reaffirm their unwavering commitment to it. Republicans in Congress embarked on a bold strategy of total opposition to the liberal state, while on TV ranting right-wing huckster Glenn Beck demonstrated the commercial potential of epic paranoia and the purest libertarian economics, decrying the interference of the state and using that horrible word socialism......ughh!!.No wonder millions of Americans were dragged round to that way of thinking . After all if everything you rely on for your information -the TV, the papers and your most vocal and exposed politicians all say the same thing , then well.....it must be true. Thank the lord for Fox TV.
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