I read this book through three lenses: First and foremost, as someone who grew up in Lancaster, Ohio, and whose immediate family (siblings, nieces/nephews, parents) still live there. I visit at least three times per year. Second, I have concerns about the growing wage gap and looked for a book that, without being condescending or demeaning, showed why and how a man like Trump was elected President. Third and most personally, three immediate family members are represented in the book and I wanted to see what the author had to say about them. (He was very, and perhaps unfairly, unkind in one case.)
My review: There was a great deal of financial and policy content that will lose many people – I had difficulty following along, and I’m somewhat familiar with the private equity model. Additionally, he surmises that “conservatives” are the problem, which is a generalization that will turn off anyone who believes differently. (I’m of the mindset that neither side has the best interest of people in mind, though Trump is uniquely dangerous for many reasons.) All of that said, there is a compelling case that runaway capitalism has not been good for our country. A position on which we are aligned – capitalism that does not work for the people, only for the wealthy needs to be reconsidered and given checks and balances.
The most disappointing aspect of the book was the often-one-sided view from the perspective of drug abusers. There is a rampant drug problem in Lancaster, Ohio, and the author is right to acknowledge and talk about it. However, he missed any stories of the remaining middle class residents who are raising their children here. As someone noted, the story eventually felt like it should be titled, “Mark and his friends.”
Overall it was interesting to read and I walked away with some new knowledge. There are stories I would like to see told about my home town and its people, so that readers with no experience in Lancaster will still see its richer fabric of stories; but even without this I would recommend the book.