The Great Divergence by Timothy Noah


9 Critic Reviews

Essential background reading for the coming elections.


For the past three decades, America has steadily become a nation of haves and have-nots. Our incomes are increasingly unequal. This steady growing apart is often mentioned as a troubling indicator by scholars and policy analysts, though seldom addressed by politicians. What economics Nobelist Paul Krugman terms "the Great Divergence" has till now been treated as little more than a talking point, a rhetorical club to be wielded in ideological battles. But this Great Divergence may be the most important change in this country during our lifetimes-a drastic, elemental change in the character of American society, and not at all for the better.

The inequality gap is much more than a left-right hot potato-its causes and consequences call for a patient, non-partisan exploration. Timothy Noah's The Great Divergence, based on his award-winning series of articles for Slate, surveys the roots of the wealth gap, drawing on the best thinking of contemporary economists and political scientists. Noah also explores potential solutions to the problem, and explores why the growing rich-poor divide has sparked remarkably little public anger, in contrast to social unrest that prevailed before the New Deal.

The Great Divergence is poised to be one of the most talked-about books of 2012, a jump-start to the national conversation about the shape of American society in the 21st century, and a work that will help frame the debate in a Presidential election year.


About Timothy Noah

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Timothy Noah was recently named "TRB," the lead columnist at The New Republic. He wrote for Slate for a dozen years, and previously served at the Wall Street Journal, the New Republic, and the Washington Monthly. He edited two collections of the writings of his late wife, Marjorie Williams, including the New York Times bestseller The Woman at the Washington Zoo. Noah received the 2011 Hillman Prize, the highest award for public service magazine journalism, for the series in Slate that forms the basis of The Great Divergence.
Published April 24, 2012 by Bloomsbury Press. 272 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Business & Economics. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for The Great Divergence
All: 9 | Positive: 8 | Negative: 1


Feb 15 2012

Essential background reading for the coming elections.

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NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Benjamin M. Friedman on May 25 2012

How much inequality can the Republic stand before the social and political fabric frays? Noah does not answer the question, in part because he doesn’t know, but mostly because he feels he doesn’t need to.

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Publishers Weekly

Feb 27 2012

Noah makes a convincing and passionate case for why rising inequality harms a working democracy, and suggests sensible, though not always politically viable, solutions.

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Christian Science Monitor

Reviewed by Jordan Smith on Apr 30 2012

Noah offers a series of convincing, balanced and thoughtful – if politically unrealistic – solutions to the disappearance of the middle class.

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Reviewed by Karen Long on May 20 2012

...the sentences are graceful, and the points are clear.

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History News Network

Reviewed by Jim Cullen on Apr 17 2012

And so in The Great Divergence he marshals a great deal of evidence and sculpts it into an impressively svelte book to demonstrate that income inequality in the United States is real, growing, and dangerous.

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Marginal Revolution

Reviewed by Tyler Cowen on Mar 19 2012

This book is well-written and it is a useful survey of left-democrat points of view on the problem.

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May 28 2012

It's a timely and thoughtful treatment of a subject of increasing importance.

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A week is a long time

Jun 14 2012

It was fascinating to read about social mobility from an American perspective and I will read Timothy Noah's journalism again in the future.

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Akshat Shrivastava

Akshat Shrivastava 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list