Our Kids

Our Kids

The American Dream in Crisis

Book - 2015
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"A groundbreaking examination of the growing inequality gap from the bestselling author of Bowling Alone: why fewer Americans today have the opportunity for upward mobility. It's the American dream: get a good education, work hard, buy a house, and achieve prosperity and success. This is the America we believe in--a nation of opportunity, constrained only by ability and effort. But during the last twenty-five years we have seen a disturbing "opportunity gap" emerge. Americans have always believed in equality of opportunity, the idea that all kids, regardless of their family background, should have a decent chance to improve their lot in life. Now, this central tenet of the American dream seems no longer true or at the least, much less true than it was. Robert Putnam--about whom The Economist said, "his scholarship is wide-ranging, his intelligence luminous, his tone modest, his prose unpretentious and frequently funny"--offers a personal but also authoritative look at this new American crisis. Putnam begins with his high school class of 1959 in Port Clinton, Ohio. By and large the vast majority of those students--"our kids"--went on to lives better than those of their parents. But their children and grandchildren have had harder lives amid diminishing prospects. Putnam tells the tale of lessening opportunity through poignant life stories of rich and poor kids from cities and suburbs across the country, drawing on a formidable body of research done especially for this book. Our Kids is a rare combination of individual testimony and rigorous evidence. Putnam provides a disturbing account of the American dream that should initiate a deep examination of the future of our country"-- Provided by publisher.
"The best-selling author of Bowling Alone offers a groundbreaking examination of the American Dream in crisis: how and why opportunities for upward mobility are diminishing, jeopardizing the prospects of an ever larger segment of Americans"-- Provided by publisher.
Publisher: New York :, Simon & Schuster,, 2015
Edition: First Simon & Schuster hardcover edition
ISBN: 9781476769899
Branch Call Number: 305.5 Putnam 2015
305.513 PUTNAM
Characteristics: 386 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm


From Library Staff

Recommended by futurist Martin Ford. A best-selling examination of growing inequality.

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Mar 20, 2016

Our Kids--not just our biological kids, but all kids. The author's main thesis is that if we want truly American values, we must work as a society to help close the opportunity gap that exists between well-educated and those who are not in the US. The book is a little slow going, with lots of data (yes, it's wonky), but it will also inspire you to care and take action. Poor kids should still have a fair chance to work hard and get enough education to support themselves. However, across the US, poor kids are faced by poverty, drugs, parents in prison, no money, no guidance. Essential reading.

Aug 10, 2015

Our Kids by Robert Putnam is a powerful book that highlights an ever-worsening problem. However, I feel like the author was merely offering up hard evidence for cultural trends that most of us already intuitively know. The truth is evident for those who are aware of this generational regression. I'll admit that after a while I was skimming through the individual profiles. These were real people supposedly and yet their stories seemed like clichés. Also, did anyone find Putnam's descriptions of life in the 1950's a shade too rosy?

The most interesting takeaway for me—and again hardly surprising—was that one's childhood surroundings do have a significant effect on growth. I tend to favor the nature argument over the nurture one, but environment does play a role. And a bad environment is not where you want to be. An impoverished child attending public school with other mostly impoverished children is statistically going to do worse, much worse, than a middle class child surrounded by middle class peers. This is also true of a child's life at home.

Jul 26, 2015

As is common in this kind of book, the suggested solutions are a little wimpy compared to the powerful analysis of the problem. Since my hometown is near Port Clinton, I especially enjoyed the first chapter.

Mar 21, 2015

Quoting the Library Journal -- from the book: // Putnam . . . suggests some public policy initiatives to address the problem-steps such as instituting nationwide early childhood education and restoring working-class wages. \\ Why, we'll get right on it, since Census Bureau data shows that 1 out of every 2 Americans qualifies as poor, since Rutgers University study suggests that almost 1/2 of all those so-called new jobs don't exist, et cetera. Seriously, is this a personal advertisement for a professional lamer, or what? And I would love a luxurious penthouse apartment, and Rose McGowan as a girlfriend. [After reading this book, by a // renowned something or other \\ and a Harvard TV watcher, allow me to offer a real solution: a revolution to take back the right of money creation from the private banksters, and back to representative government, which would be STEP ONE!]


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