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Time To Start Thinking: America and the Spectre of Decline Paperback – 3 Apr 2012

4.3 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown; Export ed edition (3 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408702762
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408702765
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,682,798 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

This is as good a diagnosis of America's failings as you will get (Sunday Times) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

The age of American global dominance is over. This brilliant new book from one of the FT's most senior writers shows how it ended and where the US needs to turn to prevent the crisis from deepening further

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4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Just as elegantly written and easily readable as his book on India, Luce provides here a cohesive, well researched analysis of the key factors that have resulted in the U.S. losing power, influence and prosperity. Luce is both well and broadly connected and open- minded, seemingly without the burden of political agenda that so often makes the lens of other writers within the same realm less incisive.
A must-read also for U.K. citizens, as so many detrimental aspects of poltical/social/financial/educational issues raised in this book equally apply to what is increasingly evident here.
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Format: Hardcover
Luce has written a very interesting and convincing case about America's decline. He examines differents themes that are associated with this situation :
- the vanishing middle class
- education
- Innovation
- Government and politics covers the last three chapters (almost half of the book)

To me, the most alarming issue was innovation, nevertheless the situation is not better with respect to the other topics.

Many books have been written about america's decline - most have been written before it was even a possibility - nevertheless, I feel the topics covered was right on the spot and very well documented. The analysis of the "tea party" movement and washington bureacracy are also very interesting - I believe especially for europeans.

If america's decline is a "lieu commun" for many people, its impacts threaten to be much more significant than the emergence of china, as The Kagan recent - and advised - "the World America Made" makes obvious.

The "olsonian nightmare" is the key explanation that Luce provides : Mancur Olson, the brilliant swedish economist that analysed the effect of vested interests on the economy (in his case, vested interests, were trade-unions in the UK). For Luce, Vested interests are dominating the politics and its inertia seem to be the dominant force ...

The book is not perfect :
- luce point repeatedly to the fact that Chinan invest huge amounts in infrastructure and america is not, as an example of decline but who said they need to invest the same % of GDP. America's infrastructure are far from perfect but China starts from a much lower point
- Also one might have the feeling that when interviewing people, the only question is "what"s bad in here ?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Financial Times always features an enormous article called “the Big Read” that focuses on an important topic in the news. The FT’s writers interview absolutely all the relevant players, tease out of them juicy quotes, present all sides of the argument, explain a fair bit of the detail and, generally speaking, set a tone, but leave the conclusions to the reader.

Edward Luce has done just that with this book. His topic (my prose) is “Seven things that are going wrong in America: Manufacturing, Education, Healthcare, the Federal Government, Polarization, the Permanent Election Campaign and the Death of the Entrepreneurial Spirit” to which he also adds “the missing middle.”

What makes the FT Big Read my favorite read of the day is pretty much what makes this book a mess: a format that works well for a one-page article begins to sag by the time you’re on page 50 and becomes downright annoying by page 280. Edward Luce has INCREDIBLE access and interviews a good 500 of the most important 1,000 Americans, but you, the reader, cannot possibly hope to remember what they all said. And you lose count of the many arguments that are made.

Also, this being a book, the author tends to sympathize a bit extra with what all his important interviewees have to tell him. The result is a 280 page long rant. Everything sucks in America, apparently. And everything was absolutely awesome a generation ago.

When I finished the book, I was fuming, basically. I was angry I’d spent my time reading this dense concatenation of quotes and comments and aghast at the paltry effort made to weave them all into a theme or story. Yes, I want to start thinking, but what are your thoughts, Mr. Luce?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This ia a thought provoking and excellently written book which certainly highlighted new facts for me. The relative powerlessness of the US President was an eye opener as was the major lack of social mobility in the USA. The thematic approach education, government, innovation makes it easy to dip in and out of the work but I completed it in just three sittings finding it enthralling. A few words of caution it does feel that people have been writing off the USA for a long time. It does also make you long for a few more balancing facts. However as a well written polemic it is an excellent book and highly recommmended.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Unlike many books about the US, this book comes without an agenda. It is meticulously researched and very imformative. I would urge anybody to read this book, not least, American policy makers themselves.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I heard Edward Luce talk on START THE WEEK on R4. He was lucid, incisive and flustered his American fellow guests. They got defensive and even offensive in trying to repudiate his very telling statistics and anecdotes gleaned from open-eyed research across many States of the Union.

Then I read the book. It reads more like a set of notes that have been joined together by Blu-Tack or written on a bus on the way to an Undergraduate tutorial. It's repetitive and meanders like a drunk with an idee fixe but no syntax. To say that this is a huge pity is an understatement. To hear Luce talk promised a F.Scott Fitzgerald-like summary of a broken decade. This was broken English and argument interruptus. It feels as if Luce is unsure of when to break from an illustration to a general point or a general argument. It feels as if he might have read some of the great essayists, (English, American or French) and learned how to sharpen his barb and polish his axe. Then, the account could have been devastating and memorably concise. It is the sort of opinion that should be recycled, syllable-perfect, in conversations all around the world because what is going wrong with American democracy and society is what went wrong with Rome in the late Fourth-Century AD and what fell apart there forced the world down a side-turning for about a fifteen-hundred years. Perhaps Mr Luce would like to republish the book in an abbreviated form, as Camille Paglia did with her 'Sexual Personae' as 'Sex and Violence, or Nature and Art'. That was brilliant. That was also extremely useful. Sometimes less is more but only when less is also brilliant. Edward Luce can be. This, longer tour, is not.
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