Fear City by Kim Phillips-Fein
New York's Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 3 Critic Reviews

For that matter, there is no mention of what has been achieved, of models of public-private partnerships that have worked...Still, this is a book that deserves an audience beyond New York City history buffs...
-NY Times

Synopsis

An epic, riveting history of New York City on the edge of disaster—and an anatomy of the austerity politics that continue to shape the world today

When the news broke in 1975 that New York City was on the brink of fiscal collapse, few believed it was possible. How could the country’s largest metropolis fail? How could the capital of the financial world go bankrupt? Yet the city was indeed billions of dollars in the red, with no way to pay back its debts. Bankers and politicians alike seized upon the situation as evidence that social liberalism, which New York famously exemplified, was unworkable. The city had to slash services, freeze wages, and fire thousands of workers, they insisted, or financial apocalypse would ensue.

In this vivid account, historian Kim Phillips-Fein tells the remarkable story of the crisis that engulfed the city. With unions and ordinary citizens refusing to accept retrenchment, the budget crunch became a struggle over the soul of New York, pitting fundamentally opposing visions of the city against each other. Drawing on never-before-used archival sources and interviews with key players in the crisis, Fear City shows how the brush with bankruptcy permanently transformed New York—and reshaped ideas about government across America.

At once a sweeping history of some of the most tumultuous times in New York's past, a gripping narrative of last-minute machinations and backroom deals, and an origin story of the politics of austerity, Fear City is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the resurgent fiscal conservatism of today.

 

About Kim Phillips-Fein

See more books from this Author
Kim Phillips-Fein won the Bancroft Dissertation Prize for her research on Invisible Hands. She has written for The Nation, The Baffler, and many other publications. She is an assistant professor at the Gallatin School of New York University and lives in New York City.
 
Published April 18, 2017 by Metropolitan Books. 416 pages
Genres: Business & Economics, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Fear City
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Feb 07 2017

New York may be an amusement park for the very rich these days, but as this grimly detailed historical account reveals, there was a time….Sobering, smart reading with many pointed lessons for activists.

Read Full Review of Fear City: New York's Fiscal ... | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by David Rosen on May 26 2017

Financial crisis is an endemic feature of capitalism. The suffering that gripped New York in the 1970s now strangles Greece and Puerto Rico. Phillips-Fein’s Fear City is an excellent primer as to the complexity—and human consequences—of such crises.

Read Full Review of Fear City: New York's Fiscal ... | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Jonathan Mahler on May 05 2017

For that matter, there is no mention of what has been achieved, of models of public-private partnerships that have worked...Still, this is a book that deserves an audience beyond New York City history buffs...

Read Full Review of Fear City: New York's Fiscal ... | See more reviews from NY Times

Rate this book!

Add Review
×