Twilight of the Elites by Christopher Hayes

93%

32 Critic Reviews

A harrowing account of Colorado’s Rocky Flats plutonium plant by a woman who grew up nearby.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

A powerful and original argument that traces the roots of our present crisis of authority to an unlikely source: the meritocracy.
 
   Over the past decade, Americans watched in bafflement and rage as one institution after another –  from Wall Street to Congress, the Catholic Church to corporate America, even Major League Baseball – imploded under the weight of corruption and incompetence. In the wake of the Fail Decade, Americans have historically low levels of trust in their institutions; the social contract between ordinary citizens and elites lies in tatters.
 
   How did we get here? With Twilight of the Elites, Christopher Hayes offers a radically novel answer. Since the 1960s, as the meritocracy elevated a more diverse group of men and women into power, they learned to embrace the accelerating inequality that had placed them near the very top. Their ascension heightened social distance and spawned a new American elite--one more prone to failure and corruption than any that came before it.
 
   Mixing deft political analysis, timely social commentary, and deep historical understanding, Twilight of the Elites describes how the society we have come to inhabit – utterly forgiving at the top and relentlessly punitive at the bottom – produces leaders who are out of touch with the people they have been trusted to govern. Hayes argues that the public's failure to trust the federal government, corporate America, and the media has led to a crisis of authority that threatens to engulf not just our politics but our day-to-day lives.
 
   Upending well-worn ideological and partisan categories, Hayes entirely reorients our perspective on our times. Twilight of the Elites is the defining work of social criticism for the post-bailout age.
 

About Christopher Hayes

See more books from this Author
Christopher Hayes is Editor at Large of The Nation and host of Up w/ Chris Hayes on MSNBC. From 2010 to 2011, he was a fellow at Harvard University's Edmond J Safra Foundation Center for Ethics. His essays, articles, and reviews have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Time, The American Prospect, The New Republic, The Washington Monthly, and The Guardian. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife Kate and daughter Ryan.
 
Published June 12, 2012 by Crown. 306 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Biographies & Memoirs, Business & Economics. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon34
Peak Rank on Jul 08 2012
icon1
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
2
Want to Read
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Twilight of the Elites
All: 32 | Positive: 31 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on May 15 2012

A harrowing account of Colorado’s Rocky Flats plutonium plant by a woman who grew up nearby.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites | See more reviews from Kirkus

Kirkus

Excellent
Reviewed by Kirkus Reviews on May 01 2012

A provocative discussion of the deeper causes of our current discontent, written with verve and meriting wide interest.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by DWIGHT GARNER on Sep 27 2012

More impressively, “Full Body Burden” — the title refers to the amount of radioactive material at any time in a human body — becomes a potent examination of the dangers of secrecy.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites | See more reviews from NY Times

The Independent

Excellent
Reviewed by LUCY SCHOLES on Sep 10 2012

The book is an intriguing mix of memoir and first-class investigative journalism, a sort of Mad Men meets Erin Brockovich...

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Melanie McGrath on Jul 18 2012

...has produced a meticulously researched and compelling narrative of growing up in the “sacrifice zone” of America’s nuclear weapons programme.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Oregon Live

Excellent
Reviewed by Special to the Oregonian on Jun 23 2012

...reports on one of the most dangerous eras in our nation's history. It's told with the pacing of a thriller, with occasional longueurs of personal struggles and disappointments, but it is well-researched, well-documented and well-referenced.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Denver Post

Excellent
Reviewed by Hank Lamport on Jul 01 2012

Iversen surprises us with the loss of her first love, jolts us with a rollover accident involving horses and parallels the book's concern with elements of dubious character with a wonderful anecdote about a Halloween haunted house.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Slate

Excellent
Reviewed by Matthew Yglesias on Jun 20 2012

It's a lot more intellectually ambitious than your typical pundit book and offers a really great blend of writing chops and social theory synthesis.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Slate

Excellent
Reviewed by Hua Hsu on Jun 01 2012

There is an urgency in his juxtapositions and free-play of ideas. It is eclectic, agnostic, much like the program he hosts on MSNBC

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

The Uncustomary Book Review

Good
Reviewed by Kat Kiddles on Oct 14 2012

While many of these powerful people believe that they are the best and the brightest, that simply isn’t true. I look no further than George W. Bush to invalidate that premise. Many of the best and brightest are living simpler lives, focusing on…

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Daily Kos

Excellent
Reviewed by Shef on Jun 26 2012

This is Hayes’s argument in a nutshell: America’s vast, crippling inequality--and all the myriad social ills that come along with it--is a direct result of America’s unhealthy attitude toward meritocracy...

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Boing Boing

Excellent
Reviewed by Maggie Koerth-Baker on Jul 17 2012

This is a great memoir that will get you thinking about the way society and technology interact.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Bookin With Sunny.

Excellent
Reviewed by Ann Ronald on May 25 2012

Iversen’s own fam­ily his­tory weaves in and out of the sto­ries of oth­ers, its light and dark moments par­al­lel­ing the shad­ows of their omi­nous neigh­bor.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Book Forum

Excellent
Reviewed by JIM SLEEPER

I opened Twilight of the Elites with some skepticism—not so much out of any quarrel I had with its argument as from worries that stemmed from the conditions of its production.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

CNN Money

Below average
Reviewed by Lisa Mogilanski on Jul 19 2012

In short, Hayes offers us a meaningless, utopian alternative to meritocracy, which is no alternative at all.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Mother Jones

Excellent
Reviewed by Maddie Oatman on Jun 03 2012

Her memoir is a deft rebellion against the silences, public and intimate, that have proven disastrous for her community.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

The American Conservative

Excellent
Reviewed by Samuel Goldman on Aug 21 2012

Hayes mounts a powerful critique of the meritocratic elite that has overseen one of the most disastrous periods of recent history.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Inside Higher Ed

Excellent
Reviewed by Scott McLemee on Jul 11 2012

His criticisms of the American status quo are clear enough, and harsh enough. Given that status quo, however, the book’s measured, non-hyperventilating approach may be a problem.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

The BookPage

Excellent
Reviewed by Cat on Jun 19 2012

Her memoir is a brilliant piece of investigative journalism that reveals the truth about growing up in suburban Denver during the Cold War...

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Truthout

Excellent
Reviewed by Alexis Goldstein on Jun 13 2012

...let me begin by saying this was a book I found so stimulating and immersive that I cannot wait to be able to discuss it with a larger audience.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Washington Monthly

Excellent
Reviewed by Elbert Ventura on Jun 08 2012

If there’s one takeaway from this eloquent book, it’s that complacency is a luxury that even the rich can no longer afford.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Rolling Stone

Excellent
Reviewed by JULIAN BROOKES on Jul 11 2012

In an excellent new book, Twilight of the Elites, journalist Chris Hayes argues that what happened is this: Our ruling class failed us.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

On Earth.

Excellent
Reviewed by FLORENCE WILLIAMS on Sep 17 2012

This is a real coming-of-age-in-nuclear-America story. Iversen learns how the world works, and it's not pretty.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Distilled Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by Sarang Shah on Sep 17 2012

Hayes defines the problems we face and identifies the upper middle class as the future leadership and power base for change, but only begins to scratch the surface of the solutions...

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

The Firebrand Magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by WILLIAM E. SHAUB on Aug 01 2012

...the kind of perspective-altering narratives that are introduced can lead one to stark asking different questions about the nature of our politics.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Orion magazine

Excellent
Reviewed by BETH ANN FENNELLY

...this book is also a memoir, and Iversen artfully weaves together episodes of the plant’s life with moments from her own.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Luxury Reading

Good
Reviewed by Rebecca Berry on Jun 06 2012

She has taken a complex story and presented it in an understanding manner to those without a technical background, but without diluting the scientific details – a commendable accomplishment.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

S. Krishna's Books

Good
Reviewed by Swapna Krishna on Aug 12 2012

...it’s an incredibly interesting read. Iversen’s narrative style ensures that the story is easily consumed, and readers will be left with a sense of outrage after the book is over.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Sophisticated Dorkiness

Good
Reviewed by Kim on Jul 23 2012

...is a well-written and well-documented look at the level of neglect government and corporate officials could be willing to stoop to if given the kind of free reign they were given at Rocky Flats.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

ChesCo Reader Book Reviews

Good
Reviewed by Jack on Aug 07 2012

Christopher Hayes has written a fascinating book that delves into these issues and discusses them in a very interesting and informative manner

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Crooked Timber.

Good
Reviewed by AARON SWARTZ on Jun 18 2012

...the book is compellingly readable, impossibly erudite, and—most stunningly of all—correct.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

The Eclectic Review

Good
Reviewed by Sharon on Jul 20 2012

This well-researched, heart-wrenching story is an eye opener and a must read for everyone who believes in democracy and who is tired of corruption with government and big corporations.

Read Full Review of Twilight of the Elites

Reader Rating for Twilight of the Elites
81%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 427 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review

Reader reviews & activity

Bessie Olsen

Bessie Olsen 27 Apr 2014

Added the book to want to read list

Andrew Novak

Andrew Novak 23 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

×