Tailspin by Steven Brill


From the award-winning journalist and best-selling author of America's Bitter Pill: a tour de force examination of 1) how and why major American institutions no longer serve us as they should, causing a deep rift between the vulnerable majority and the protected few, and 2) how some individuals and organizations are laying the foundation for real, lasting change.In this revelatory narrative covering the years 1967 to 2017, Steven Brill gives us a...

Details Tailspin

Release DateMay 29th, 2018
GenreNonfiction, Politics, History, Economics, Business, North American Hi..., American History

Reviews Tailspin

  • Gary Moreau
    Brill’s is one of a gazillion recent books that addresses the question, what happened to America? That it’s broken, we all know, even if we don’t always admit it to ourselves.This book, however, really is different. Brill is one of the few authors who has the legal and financial expertise to really get it right. And that he does. The problem is not social, political, racial, or patriarchal (although the latter two are real problems that mus...
  • David Wineberg
    Medieval moats updatedFor Steven Brill, “America has increasingly become a Moat Nation, producing a parade of unfair advantages for those with the resources to deploy the knowledge workers to build and fortify their moats while contributing to the overall decline of the country.” The protected classes – the rich, the corporations and the lobbyists – keep building their moats wider and deeper, at the very real expense of the rest of us. Th...
  • David Valentino
    Why We’re in the Fix We AreIf you’ve been paying attention for the past few years, what Steven Brill tells you in his often times infuriating new book Tailspin will not surprise you. There’s a tremendous and still expanding disparity between the haves and the have-nots. The haves control the levers of government and they work actively to reduce government, because, frankly, government can do little for them; from their viewpoint, it mostly ...
  • Denny
    I'll tell y'all right up front this review doesn't do the book justice. Tailspin is so full of good information that I'd have to read it, carefully, 3 or 4 times to fully digest it.I frequently complain that subtitles tend to be misnomers and that they seem to be designed to catch eyes and sell books more than to give an accurate impression of what the book's about, but the opposite is true here. The People and Forces Behind America's Fifty-Year ...
  • Eric_W
    This book should have been titled "Be Careful What You Wish For; You May Get It," or perhaps "Unforeseen and Unintended Consequences." He begins with a litany of problems facing the United States: income inequality, the highest poverty rate among the industrialized nations, a crumbling infrastructure, an attitude of American "exceptionalism"with a Congress that hasn't been able to pass a budget in decades, ("Like slacker schoolchildren unable to ...
  • Fred Forbes
    Having read some of Brill's material related to healthcare I know that he is an astute observer of the political and economic realities of our age so looked forward to this work on our "tailspin" of the last 50 years as the country went into gridlock and so many pressing needs went unmet. He characterizes much of the problem with the existence of a "moat" around the participants which makes the problems difficult to solve. Book is stronger on des...
  • Bryan Alexander
    Tailspin is journalist Steven Brill's attempt to determine what's recently gone wrong in America. His thesis centers on a cultural shift he sees that began around 1965. Starting then America divided into an elite and those he calls "the unprotected many". Since then the elite successfully "overmatched, overran, and paralyzed the government" to grow and preserve their gains (7). Each chapter of Tailspin focused on one aspect of that transformation...
  • Peter Mcloughlin
    Although Brill starts talking about the virtues of the meritocracy he spends a great deal of time giving a fine-grained analysis of how they screwed over the country in the past four or five decades to the point where for most people we are not a viable republic while the elites of meritocratic order (and I emphasize that the merit part should be viewed with suspicion and irony) enriched themselves and gated themselves off from the rest of us to ...
  • Chris
    Brill thoroughly explains how we got to our present state of un-exceptionalism. It will depress you. It will anger you. And it’s not so much about Trump either.It all started around the time I graduated from high school in the mid 70’s. Blame Vietnam, Watergate, whatever. A perfect storm of changes and unintended consequences. A movement to level the playing fields and doing away with the old boy networks and replacing them by merit succeeded...
  • Rāhul
    This book was surprisingly pithy and erudite. It focuses on two trends in American life in the late 20th century- the rise of meritocracy and moat creation around incumbents in different fields, and their deleterious effects. Meritocracy, counter-intuitively, reduced the social consensus on activist government involvement to redress inequalities and also subverted any sense of noblesse oblige. The meritocratic winners also succeeded in digging su...
  • Elizabeth Stolar
    A very high 4 stars -- an excellent book that I do recommend everyone read. I didn't quite give it 5 stars because there were a few things that were included that I didn't necessarily think were as responsible for our downward spiral as some others (like cost overruns and the procurement process) and there were a few repetitive areas and false equivalencies that made me cringe. But, all in all a solid work by a highly intelligent, well informed a...
  • Aaron
    Overall, I thought this was a top notch piece of reporting on the state of affairs in America today and the stagnation of economic growth for our middle and lower classes.I'd say that I take some issues with some of the solutions pushed by Brill. I have almost no faith in a prosperous future where most jobs are based around caring for the elderly, children, and the disabled (which was essentially the main jobs program pushed by Brill). I thought ...
  • Dave
    This is a top-flight book by top-flight journalist Steven Brill and all Americans should spend the time to read this BEFORE the next election cycle!The top 6 or 8 reviews on Goodreads will inform you in detail about the book's contents, so I won't repeat that here. In a nutshell our problem revolves around the concentration of resources (money) and power that has occurred in the U.S. in the last 60 years. Prior to that time, the division of wealt...
  • John Devlin
    Brill does a good job of laying out some history: the antecedents to Citizens United, the due process clause, public unions, and the scandal at the VA.Where he fails is at his underlying premise.First, he caterwauls about terrible income inequality. Simple math: if one man makes 50k and increases his salary to 55k and another makes 5 million and increase his take to 5.5 million both have seen a 10% increase. Of course Inequality has risen, but so...
  • Barbara
    Eye opening. The tailspinning of America has taken place over the last 50 years. I feel like the frog in tepid water that is gradually heated and is being boiled alive without realizing it. So much I didn’t know or connect together.This is not an easy read. It is full of stories of greed, unintended consequences, financial and political malfeasance, all backed up by data and extensive research. Brill is a journalist, business person, attorney, ...
  • Ben
    The subtitle of Tailspin promises a very comprehensive book, one that covers the causes of problems and their solutions. Brill comes up short of the promised comprehensive, critical analysis but produces a thoroughly researched book that has lots of detail about the ways in which America is failing (according to Brill's standards) and how it got to that point. Brill roots his hypothesis in an interesting place: the movement toward meritocracy and...
  • Scott Lee
    Brill presents a compelling, balanced and thoroughly documented account of how,beginning with the best of intentions, we've arrived in the place where we are with a broken economy that works primarily to enrich the few through financial gimmicks;in a state of polarization where the sole goal of the party out of power is to block the party in power, and the sole goal of the party in power is to stick it to the party that's out; with a government s...
  • Todd N
    So about the time that I was born America started going into a “tailspin.” Causation or correlation? Who knows?This book picks up on some of the threads discussed in Coming Apart (Charles Murray) and Our Kids (Robert Putnam) and follows the meritocratic elite as they make America a steady worse and more unequal place.Usually this is because the best and brightest decided to go into law, where they help build moats to protect the super-elite, ...
  • Angie Boyter
    Definitely a 3+. A missed opportunity to be a much better book. There is a LOT of interesting and convincing information here, and I basically agree with most of what he was saying, but it would have rated higher and been much more effective if he could have toned down the rant and been more objective. There were instances that I was quite familiar with that I clearly knew he had distorted, which hurt his credibility in the areas I did NOT know a...
  • Curt Matzenbacher
    As you might expect, this book with lots of examples of policy and legal cases is pretty dense, but Brill does a great job of doing this in a readable narrative format where possible. I also appreciated that he did not try to scapegoat certain subgroups, but pointed to the more systemic issues. And he gives examples of people who are working to repair the system and how we might create bipartisan solutions for the future!
  • Ailith Twinning
    The chapters on education most evidence where I kinda just hate this author's worldview. See a problem, sure, but distort it, and absolutely refuse to see it outside the Republican/Democrat divide. What we need isn't bi-partisanship, or non-partisanship (which really is bullshit, we agree on that), but a new party. New ideas for a new century. And less ideology overall. For instance - why, the hell, do we have a society where anything and everyth...
  • Margaret
    To say a book is “essential” is such a cliche, that I must find another way to say it! I have read many wonderful books recently about our nation’s current predicament, but this is certainly the most complete and informative. Seemingly intractable problems are explained in terms of the history leading to them, many of which I thought that I understood. However, to mention just one example, I found the well-documented story of how the First ...
  • Todd Stockslager
    Review title: The Conspiracy Theory of EverythingIn my review of The Oath and the Office, I focused on author Corey Brettschneider's thesis that wisdom, virtue and deliberation are the three most essential traits of a perspective president--and of the electorate, I concluded. Here, Brill describes how even in the presence of those traits, the American political, financial, legal, educational, and physical infrastructure have collapsed in the last...
  • Sam
    I agree with many of the points Brill makes. His critiques of just how paralyzed and dysfunctional our civic institutions have become, make me shake my head in disbelief--yet, I realize the truth of what he's saying.As far as making a raw impact, though, his recent cover essay in Time Magazine, based on highlights from this book, covered many of the same points, and was more effective.
  • Emily Davenport
    If you want a book that explains our country then look no further. It is hopeful but...dang.
  • Dan Downing
    Unlike many 'what is wrong' books, Mr. Brill infused his with suggested solutions, with the names of people and organizations who have potential solutions, and with an attempt at an upbeat ending.What this reader found was one of the most difficult books I have ever read. Not that there was much new, really. I've kept up to date over the past 60 years. But it is all packed together here, with names and dates and perspective. Brill discusses jobs,...
  • Ann
    The growing inequality between wealthy Americans and all the rest has been remarked on for several years now. Steven Brill in TAILSPIN tackles the many factors he believes have contributed to American democracy’s disastrous dive.He begins with what should have been a good idea: replacing the old boy network at prestigious American universities with more merit based systems. Using scholarships and programs to bring expertise to the deserving rat...