NATIONAL BESTSELLER • With stark poignancy and political dispassion Tightrope addresses the crisis in working-class America while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure. This must-read book from the authors of Half the Sky “shows how we can and must do better” (Katie Couric).
"A deft and uniquely credible exploration of rural America, and of other left-behind pockets of our country. One of the most important books I've read on the state of our disunion."—Tara Westover, author of Educated
Drawing us deep into an “other America,” the authors tell this story, in part, through the lives of some of the people with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Yamhill, Oregon. It’s an area that prospered for much of the twentieth century but has been devastated in the last few decades as blue-collar jobs disappeared.
About a quarter of the children on Kristof’s old school bus died in adulthood from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents. While these particular stories unfolded in one corner of the country, they are representative of many places the authors write about, ranging from the Dakotas and Oklahoma to New York and Virginia.
With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore.
Husband and wife journalists Kristof and WuDunn (A Path Appears) turn a compassionate lens on the failed state of working-class American communities in this stark, fluidly written portrait. In profiling residents of Baltimore, Md., and Pine Bluff, Ark., as well as Kristof's classmates from rural Yamhill, Ore., the authors seek to counteract the "cruel narrative that working-class struggle is about bad choices, laziness, and vices." They urge readers to reflect not only on "individual irresponsibility" but on the "collective irresponsibility" of American society, especially in comparison to other first-world countries where the social safety net is stronger. The authors highlight the successes of local nonprofits, including a Pine Bluff after-school program, but contend that pockets of individual charity cannot solve the nation's systemic problems. Threaded throughout are policy suggestions emphasizing the importance of early childhood education, universal health coverage, fair tax rates, commonsense drug policy, affordable housing, and strong worker protections. Kristof and WuDunn avoid pity while creating empathy for their subjects, and effectively advocate for a "morality of grace" to which readers should hold policy makers accountable. This essential, clear-eyed account provides worthy solutions to some of America's most complex socioeconomic problems.
Heartfelt and heart rending. The book is so believable because of Nick’s personal history in Yamhill, Oregon. Both the authors model empathy as well as objectivity in evaluating the stories of the people they portray. They make it very clear that poverty is not just about bad choices, nor is it about government’s failure to care for its citizens. Rather it is a toxic combination of both factors that has caused us to have a demographic of suffering that impacts our country’s wellbeing so deeply.
Informative but misleading
While this book did bring insight and perspective it also had a great deal of bias against conservative views. My largest complaint is facts were shared in a way to support their perspective while not sharing facts that would help the reader form their own opinion and perhaps a different view.