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Publisher's Summary

In An Extraordinary Time, acclaimed economic historian Marc Levinson recounts the global collapse of the postwar economy in the 1970s. While economists struggle to return us to the high economic growth rates of the past, Levinson counterintuitively argues that the boom years of the 1950s and 1960s were an anomaly; slow economic growth is the norm - no matter what economists and politicians may say. Yet these atypical years left the public with unreasonable expectations of what government can achieve. When the economy failed to revive, suspicion of government and liberal institutions rose sharply, laying the groundwork for the political and economic polarization that we're still grappling with today.

A sweeping reappraisal of the last sixty years of world history, An Extraordinary Time describes how the postwar economic boom dissipated, undermining faith in government, destabilizing the global financial system, and forcing us to come to terms with how tumultuous our economy really is.

©2016 Marc Levinson. (P)2016 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.

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Good review of crucial turning point in history

Lately I have focused closely on this era and these pivotal changes in US and global history. This one spends the most time on the USA and quite a bit on Britain, but ventures elsewhere, to France and so on. Policies and leaders are well and clearly explained. A big pivot discussed here surrounds the year 1973, when productivity growth seemed to collapse (right into the present day). I came of age in the 1970s, and felt a need to learn more details of the decisions made, their makers, and their effects. This fills the bill nicely. I also strongly recommend a print book to read alongside this one: More: The Politics of Economic Growth in Postwar America, by Robert M. Collins. It too is a gem, rich in detail and insight (perhaps more than this work, but with a slightly different point of view) and together, much can be learned. All this has plenty of pertinence today, as our politics and expectations and stresses are still wrapped around the nostalgic fantasies, and the relative baseline, of times postwar and before 1973. And there seem to be huge gaps of forgetfulness, if not ignorance, among members of the public. I think all Americans (and others too) could benefit from this big dose of perspective.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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taking credit for the golden age

? does it seem to you that american life is changing in a fundamental way
? are the advantages that were true for your parents just not true for you
? does the USA we knew, in the sixty years after WW II, seem gone forever

marc levinson has written a scholarly book confirming all these suspicions
the USA emerged from WW II to enjoy two 30 year blocks of peace and prosperity
1944 - 1974 saw the fastest growth / 1974 - 2004 saw steady but slower growth

workplace productivity increased 2 - 4% per year and living standards rose
well " the party is over " and what was once given will now have to be earned
today's generation will struggle just to maintain the life their parents took for granted

we've read about the " greatest " generation that endured the depression and WW II
but what about the american generation that came of age, just as the war ended
they seem happy to take personal credit for all the benefits of the post-war boom

recent elections were tinged with a sad nostalgia for america's prior greatness
the enduring truth is " that train has left the station " and will never return
we need to prepare our children for the new realities, not their grandparents' realities







2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Best summary of economy history since World War II

An extraordinary Times taught me a lot of history surrounding the economic times of the last 60-years. Great read, I learned a great deal. I recommend this book for anyone who would like to get a perspective on economic history of the last 60-years.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Macroeconomics unable durably to stimulate growth

Would you listen to An Extraordinary Time again? Why?

I listened to every chapter at least twice and plan to listen to it again or purchase the book to read. It was well written but had a lot of facts and concepts not fully absorbed at once. But I found each run-through to be fascinating and enjoyable.

Any additional comments?

Levinson writes well but I had to listen attentively to enjoy the account of world economic events since my own birth in the early 1950s. There's a strong connection between productivity growth and economic growth. The end of WWII unleashed worldwide economic growth for two decades. That became the new baseline, and people decided it could and should be maintained. It started to unravel for a number of reasons at the time of the OPEC embargo in 1973. No political party nor form of government has been able to restore those levels of growth. Levinson explains why things have turned out the way they did, and why we should be skeptical of overly optimistic promises from political parties or ideologues. Yes, innovation is necessary to increase productivity and growth, but Levinson explains why there are unpredictably long delays between innovative technologies and their salutary effect on growth.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Economics and history come together

This book presents a concise summary of the post-war western economy, focusing on the US, Germany, and France with a side trip to South America. From my understanding of economics, this is a fair assessment of what happened during that period and why. For me, this book did a good job of pulling together events I heard about while growing up, but never really understood in an historical context. Things from Nixon’s price and wage freeze to Reaganomics. I was less familiar with developments in Europe, so it was helpful to see how economic ideas traveled among the major western countries.

The main thesis, as I understand it, is that economic output grows when productivity grows. The post-war economic boom that fizzled out in 1973 was an unusual period of global economic growth, not to be repeated.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful