The Great Divergence

So Why Should We Care?
New books dissected over email.
April 23 2012 6:30 AM

The Great Divergence


Why should we care about America’s growing inequality?

Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in the financial district of New York City.
Occupy Wall Street demonstrators in the financial district of New York City

Photograph by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

Hi Tim,

It’s so good to be virtually chatting with you about The Great Divergence. The project originated with your masterful Slate series on inequality, and since we published that, public interest in the subject has surged, making a deeper dive very timely.

The tragedy of paper books is they don’t have the cool multimedia extras that come with a Web product, but I think anyone who’s gotten fired up about inequality thanks to Occupy or some of the more recent populist rhetoric from the president will find that this is the very best introduction to the subject that’s out there. And folks on the right who want to move beyond lazy caricatures of what’s bothering progressives will also find a lot of value here. That’s because the book is primarily a rigorous positive exploration of what the inequality trends are, not a polemic about why they’re bad.

The Great Divergence by Timothy Noah.
The Great Divergence by Timothy Noah

But obviously you’re interested in the subject because you do find the rise in inequality alarming. So I think that’s the best place to start. Why should we care about, as your subtitle puts it, “America’s growing inequality crisis”?


Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.


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