Hard Times The Divisive Toll of the Economic Slump Tom Clark, Anthony Heath

Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
17 Apr 2014
ISBN:
9780300203776
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
304 pages: 234 x 156 x 35mm
Illustrations:
illustrations

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Latest coverage for 'Hard Times':
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Read a review by Polly Toynbee in the Guardian
Tom Clark on 'Hard Times' for the Guardian
Read a review by Nick Cohen in the Observer

After the financial implosion of 2008, the world sank into the deepest recession since the 1930s. Hard Times asks what this has done to two rich but vastly unequal societies: Britain and the United States. Exploiting an array of data and striking interviews with those affected, Tom Clark documents how misadventures in the towers of high finance cascaded down to the streets below. Everything from PTA membership to sales of playing cards dived during the Great Depression; this compelling book traces the Great Recession's path through our own times, uncovering a drop in life satisfaction, frayed community connections and changing patterns of suicide. In every case, the toll is greater in poor neighbourhoods, due not only to unemployment, but also to the precarious, unreliable jobs proliferating in the recovery. As austerity redoubles the hardship, the book's new analysis suggests scarring that will blight individual and family life for years to come. Over a third of a century, the gap between rich and poor has steadily widened; with the crisis, this economic divide has deepened into a societal schism. Public opinion has polarised in parallel, poisoning politics, and leaving the victims of recession divided and powerless. In more prosperous neighbourhoods the slump might soon be forgotten, but this urgent, authoritative book pulls the scales of complacency from our eyes. It cannot be missed by anyone who yearns for a healthier, happier and less divided tomorrow.

'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, Guardian

'Clark is the first author I know of who has examined the data on the great recession and shown that booms and busts are like Tolstoy's families. All happy financial bubbles are alike but each recession is unhappy in its own way.' - Nick Cohen, Observer

Tom Clark writes daily editorials on politics, economics, and social affairs for The Guardian in London. Anthony Heath is professor of sociology, University of Manchester, and emeritus professor at the University of Oxford.

'Hard Times by Tom Clark ought to be one of the books of the year.' - Nick Cohen, Observer
'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, Guardian
'If you want to know about the enduring damage that recessions can do to ordinary people in unequal societies, then read this book. Hard Times provides a unique combination of hard statistics and fascinating interviews with workers and families that were hit by the big slump. A must read.' - Thomas Piketty

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