The Leading Indicators by Gregg Easterbrook

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Tom Perrotta meets David Brooks in The Leading Indicators--a powerful modern parable about one American family's fall from grace during the recession


Margo and Tom Helot have the perfect life.  He works in finance; she's an enterprising stay-at-home mom.  They inhabit a fully redecorated home complete with expensive his-and-hers cars in the drive and situated in the peaceful, leafy suburb of a major American city. Day after day delivery trucks arrive bearing packages from the kinds of places all Americans wish they received packages: Williams-Sonoma, Bergdorf Goodman, Villeroy & Boch.  The family is rounded out by two delightful children with good grades, well on their way to top colleges. 


Then it all comes crashing down around them: Tom's boss reveals that due to "regrettable oversights," their high-flying company actually was a fraud.  Forced into the job market just as the Dow plummets and unemployment starts to spike, Tom is buffeted from one failing company to the next.  The Helots lose their house, then their apartment.  As the powerful at the very top roll in government subsidized bonuses, while everyone else falters, Tom and Margo find themselves adrift in “an American economy that now produces shattered lives with the same fervor it once produced Oldsmobiles.” Ultimately, they must face a terrible choice to save their family's future. This compelling and insightful novel from seasoned social commentator Gregg Easterbrook strikes at the heart of the American moment.     


About Gregg Easterbrook

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GREGG EASTERBROOK is the author of a number of books, including The Progress Paradox, Tuesday Morning Quarterback, The Here and Now, and Sonic Boom. He is a contributing editor of The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic and The Washington Monthly, and a columnist for He has been a distinguished fellow of the Fulbright Foundation, a visiting fellow of the Brookings Institution, a bartender, a bus driver and a used-car salesman.
Published November 13, 2012 by Thomas Dunne Books. 223 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Indicting the AIG-Bear Stearns-Lehman Brothers’ looting of the American dream, Easterbrook offers a must-have, Sub-Zero-refrigerator appraisal of what the Smartest Guys in the Room did to the American dream.

Oct 01 2012 | Read Full Review of The Leading Indicators

Publishers Weekly

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The allegorical fall of a typical American family offers fodder for a philosophical examination of national values in this compelling but flat novel from Easterbrook (Here and Now) that kicks things off with a bang, literally, as a UPS truck and a FedEx truck crash in Margo Helot’s driveway del...

Sep 24 2012 | Read Full Review of The Leading Indicators

The Atlantic

Moreover, some of the lasting effects of climate change are likely to come not so much from the warming itself but from how we react to it: If the world warms appreciably, men and women will not sit by idly, eating bonbons and reading weather reports;

Jul 28 2015 | Read Full Review of The Leading Indicators

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