'In charts and numbers alongside heartbreaking human stories, [Clark] paints a portrait of an already deeply divided society riven further between those hit by the slump and those barely noticing it. Clark's powerful analysis illuminates the social history of recessions, as each one strikes down the same people and places over and over again, enriching the same few as quantitative easing did this time.'-Polly Toynbee, The Guardian -- Polly Toynbee The Guardian "A sharply written rebuttal of prevailing orthodoxies about the realities of global economics after 2008."-Kirkus Reviews Kirkus Reviews 'Hard Times by Tom Clark ought to be one of the books of the year.'-Nick Cohen, The Observer -- Nick Cohen The Observer 'Narrating their version of what has happened is the purpose of Hard Times. Its power comes not from anecdote but from data. The authors, Tom Clark a Guardian journalist, and Anthony Heath, professor of sociology at Manchester University, have combined academic rigour with a reporter's eye for the real story to expose what the Great Recession is doing to the fabric of British society, and why politics has failed.'-Rafael Behr, The Guardian -- Rafael Behr The Guardian
2008 was a watershed year for global finance. The banking system was eventually pulled back from the brink, but the world was saddled with the worst slump since the 1930s Depression, and millions were left unemployed. While numerous books have addressed the financial crisis, very little has been written about its social consequences.
Journalist Tom Clark draws on the research of a transatlantic team led by Professors Anthony Heath and Robert D. Putnam to determine the great recession’s toll on individuals, families, and community bonds in the United States and the United Kingdom. The ubiquitous metaphor of the crisis has been an all-encompassing “financial storm,” but Clark argues that the data tracks the narrow path of a tornado—destroying some neighborhoods while leaving others largely untouched. In our vastly unequal societies, disproportionate suffering is being meted out to the poor—and the book’s new analysis suggests that the scars left by unemployment and poverty will linger long after the economy recovers.
Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have shown more interest in exploiting the divisions of opinion ushered in by the slump than in grappling with these problems. But this hard-hitting analysis provides a wake-up call that all should heed.