"America the Possible" by James Gustave         Speth

America the Possible Manifesto for a New Economy James Gustave Speth

Publication date:
24 Sep 2013
Yale University Press
272 pages: 235 x 156mm
1 b-w illus.
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Why the crisis in which America finds itself demands a new "operating system"

In this third volume of his award-winning American Crisis series, James Gustave Speth makes his boldest and most ambitious contribution yet. He looks unsparingly at the sea of troubles in which the United States now finds itself, charts a course through the discouragement and despair commonly felt today, and envisions what he calls America the Possible, an attractive and plausible future that we can still realize.

The book identifies a dozen features of the American political economy—the country's basic operating system—where transformative change is essential. It spells out the specific changes that are needed to move toward a new political economy—one in which the true priority is to sustain people and planet. Supported by a compelling "theory of change" that explains how system change can come to America, the book also presents a vision of political, social, and economic life in a renewed America. Speth envisions a future that will be well worth fighting for. In short, this is a book about the American future and the strong possibility that we yet have it in ourselves to use our freedom and our democracy in powerful ways to create something fine, a reborn America, for our children and grandchildren.

James Gustave Speth is Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, and Professor of Law at Vermont Law School. He is the author of Red Sky at Morning and The Bridge at the Edge of the World.

"[Speth] does a marvelous job of summarizing the most pressing problems and offering realistic and promising solutions. . .. This book is optimistic even in the midst of seemingly insurmountable problems."Choice

"It is indeed possible to restore America to a true, durable, and decent prosperity and Gus Speth shows how. Cogent, clear, compelling and essential reading for liberals and conservatives; optimists and pessimists alike. We can and we must!"—David W. Orr, Oberlin College; author of Hope is an Imperative and Down to the Wire

"A sweeping plan to save the United States by revamping the entire political-economic-societal paradigm. . . Speth concedes that his agenda is daunting . . . However, because he believes the country is in danger of failing the greater part of its citizenry unless current policies are altered, he chooses optimism, proposing specific reforms that can become reality if undertaken in a deliberate, measured way."—Kirkus Reviews

"A readable prescription for the future that's actually possible. [Speth's] message is clear: A new political economy is coming, and will eventually win the day. One that is more democratic, sustainable and, in a word, better for us all."—Robert M. Thorson, Hartford Courant

“This critically important work brings together in a selective, judicious and integrated way the best current thinking on the American political economic crisis and related policies.”—Herman Daly, Professor Emeritus, School of Public Policy, University of Maryland; author of Beyond Growth

“A brilliant, powerfully supported manifesto and an indispensable call to arms in the fight to build a democratic and ecologically sustainable system in the 21st century.”—Gar Alperovitz, author of America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty and Our Democracy

“One of our most trusted elders in the environmental movement offers a sweeping and inspiring vision for how to transform a deeply ailing culture.  A true gift of a book, at exactly the right moment.”— Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine

"In this hopeful and timely book, Gus Speth, one of the nation's leading environmental reformers turned system-critic, articulates what increasing numbers of Americans are feeling: a loss of faith in our market-centric, growth-oriented model. To jump-start a journey of transition, Speth presents a vision for comprehensive and deep change that is rooted in a sustaining economy and a new set of cultural values. Speth's profoundly humane sensibilities and common sense approach are sure to resonate with readers."—Juliet Schor, author of True Wealth: How and why millions of Americans are creating a time-rich, ecologically-light, small-scale, high-satisfaction economy

"Speth is a seasoned leader and passionate truth teller with impeccable establishment credentials. In America the Possible he presents a compelling case for economic transformation and spells out a policy agenda to achieve a secure and prosperous future for all."—David Korten, YES! Magazine board chair and author of Agenda for a New Economy and The Great Turning


"Gus Speth’s wonderfully comprehensive account of the American condition is a devastating indictment.  Yet he lifts us up with his audacious vision of what can be."—William Greider, author of Come Home, America: The Rise and Fall (and Redeeming Promise) of Our Country

"There is no more important commentator and visionary on ways out of the American economic dilemma than Gus Speth. His experiences are unique—in government, academia, and as a deeply engaged economic activist, working toward a systemic evolution that accepts natural limits and the primacy of democratic values. His new book is confident, comprehensive, rich with new ideas, and it confirms Speth as among the leading thinkers and voices in the urgent campaign for new economic models. I recommend it to everyone."—Jerry Mander, author, The Capitalism Papers; Fatal Flaws of an Obsolete System

"America the Possible does a marvelous job of summarizing the most pressing problems and offering realistic and promising solutions...Written by a sensitive, well-informed scholar who has served the country in various capacities, this book is optimistic even in the midst of seemingly insurmountable problems."Choice

Honorable Mention, General-Non-Fiction category at the 2013 Green Book Festival sponsored by JM Northern LLC

"At a time when forgettable blueprints for social change appear almost daily, this one stands out for being remarkably fresh, readable, and incisive."--Solutions

"At a time when forgettable blueprints for social change appear almost daily, this one stands out for being remarkably fresh, readable, and incisive."—Michael H. Shuman, Solutions