I've been following Arthur's work for a few years at the Huffington Post, and I'm now enjoying this book. It's easy to read, well-structured, and chock full of useful facts that stories that will help you understand what has happened to this country over the past four years. This is a very different country than it used to be, and Arthur shows exactly why.
I love the title because it conveys the unusual point of the book. History is too often written by the winners, because chroniclers find easy access to the memoirs of the rich and famous. But it is the experiences of normal people that have a unique and important power of their own. These stories show the consequences of the decisions of the masters of the universe, and the constraints that they face in imposing their will on an increasingly restive and unhappy population. Credit companies aren't just reaping unfair fees, they are wrecking homes and lives through bureaucracy and greed.
These stories also suggest ways that people themselves can find hope and dignity in their own lives, even in the face of a malevolent set of institutional forces. The book chronicles the unemployment crisis, bank overdraft fees, the disastrous mortgage situation and housing bubble, and the failed government response. For conservatives, this book will challenge your belief in "the free market". It will show you that the unemployed are not lazy or stupid, that anyone could fall into this situation. For liberals, the book will challenge your faith in government, as Arthur shows the evil nature of the foreclosure relief programs and the collusion of the banks and authority structures.
Debtors prisons, debt, unions, bank robberies, scams, jail, the 99ers, and the health insurance racket - all of these are covered as human stories, not anodyne talking points for a pundit or politician. For many who are suffering, this book will help them understand that they are not alone. For all Americans, this book should be a wake-up call that there is a deep pool of anger and frustration out there that is untapped and ignored by our political institutions.