Losing Our Way is just about the saddest book I’ve ever read. It took me well over a month to read it, even though it’s great, because I had to keep stopping so I wouldn’t sink into a terrible depression.
Losing Our Way is basically the story of everything that’s wrong with the United States today, from our failing infrastructure, to struggling schools, to wage stagnation and income inequality, to endless wars in the Middle East. Bob Herbert knows his stuff, and he doesn’t pull any punches. He illustrates the alarming statistics with stories of Americans, like the teenager who is struggling to finish high school while also working third shift to support her family, the woman whose back was broken in a bridge collapse in Minnesota, and the soldier whose legs were blown off by an IED in Afghanistan. Each story is alarming, depressing, and enlightening. I think a lot of Americans have felt for years that something was not quite right in the United States, and Herbert is able to connect the dots.
It’s infuriating to read things like, “Between 2010 and 2012 the top 1 percent of American households took in nearly all of the income growth–95 percent. . . The bottom half of the population was left with a pittance–just 1.1. percent of the wealth–to divide up.” We read these statistics all the time. Why don’t we act? Why do we keep voting for candidates who don’t represent our interests? Herbert doesn’t have an answer for that–just a call to action that we keep refusing to take. We are the country of Martin Luther King, Jr., Alice Paul, and a thousand other visionaries and loudmouths, so why do we still let a-holes like Rahm Emanuel and Dick Cheney dictate our country’s direction? The plutocrats are winning. They turn us on each other so they can continue living like Scrooge McDuck. The Waltons are the richest family in the United States, and yet middle class Americans are the ones who subsidize health insurance for their employees. I take it back about this book being sad. It’s actually enraging.
This is an important book. Everyone should read it. Just make sure to take breaks to google kitten pictures every now and then, because you’re going to need a pick-me-up.