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Publisher's Summary

The author of 12 acclaimed books, Robert B. Reich is a Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and has served in three national administrations.

While many blamed Wall Street for the financial meltdown, Aftershock points a finger at a national economy in which wealth is increasingly concentrated at the top - and where a grasping middle class simply does not have the resources to remain viable.

©2010 Robert B. Reich (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Reich's thesis is well argued and frighteningly plausible: without a return to the 'basic bargain' (that workers are also consumers), the "aftershock" of the Great Recession includes long-term high unemployment and a political backlash - a crisis, he notes with a sort of grim optimism, that just might be painful enough to encourage necessary structural reforms." ( Publishers Weekly)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings


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  • Overall

Very plausible assessment of our economy

I heard Mr Reich discuss this book on NPR and immediately downloaded this Audible version. His arguments are very clear, and I 100% agree with his analysis. I’m not completely sure I agree with his solutions – but they are thought provoking ideas. I energetically recommend this book to anyone who is trying to understand these times

22 of 22 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

5 Concise Reasons to Read

I love short books. Can you recommend any good, but concise, nonfiction? Great reads under 200 pages?

Here are my 5 concise reasons to read Robert Reich's latest book "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future"

Reason #1 - Conciseness: Most books are too long. Aftershock is a blessed 192 pages; 4 hours and 29 minutes short in audiobook format.

Reason #2 - Originality: Reich's big argument is that out economy is fundamentally unbalanced. That the growth of inequality that has concentrated economic gains among the top 5 percent of the populations has resulted in an inability of most Americans to adequately consume. We cannot afford to buy what we produce (a problem near and dear to the heart of any parent who works in higher education).

Reason #3 - The Higher Education Plan: Reich actually has a plan for higher education. He would make tuition free (to public institutions), and recoup the costs with a levy on future earnings for anyone who participated. His proposal is more complex than this description, and wildly unlikely to ever be enacted anywhere, but still fun to debate.

Reason #4 - History: Reich was one of the first academic popularizers that I discovered. Back in 1992, he wrote The Work of Nations: Preparing Ourselves for 21st Century Capitalism, in which he argued that economic gains and options would accrue to the "symbolic analysts" - those who manipulate and create information. Reich was ahead of the game in 1992, and if we had listened more carefully to his warnings we might be in better shape today.

Reason #5 - Narration: Reich narrates his own book - and does it beautifully. Usually reading what you have written does not work out so well. Narration is a skill best left to professional readers. But in this case, Reich is the right person to read his own words

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Shocking, Scary, but with some hope

I've listened to this book twice so far and I will again. I assume the print version has pictures or graphics or charts that support his arguments. But Reich is persuasive without them. You can get an idea of that by listening to his commentaries on NPR's Marketplace. But here he gets to expound more fully. He imagines a future dystopia only 10 years away and it is a scary place indeed. So much so that you are surprised that he lets us even consider the possibility. Later he tells us a possible solution. By that time you might be thinking along the lines of Churchill who supposedly said "you can count on the Americans to do the right thing, after they have tried everything else."

One of the strongest points about this Audible book is that it is read by the author. When you get to hear him in this format, his positions are rather apolitical and strongly moral. A conservative who doesn't like Krugman and doesn't believe Liz Ann Sonders should consider the malaise that Reich describes and decide if they have a plausible alternative. A liberal will feel more than a little chastised by Reich and realize that optimism alone won't restore America.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Hey! Rob Reich can read his own books!!

And he didn't do a bad job either! It's probably not easy to read your own book. The recording is clear and works just fine for the ear. Reich keeps the tone conversational throughout. Kudos to the sound engineer!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Kenneth
  • LEESBURG, VA, United States
  • 01-11-11

Why Must the Details Hurt so Much?

The book argues: 1) that the ???Great Recession of 2008??? required us had to spend a lot of money to avoid a second great depression, 2) that we failed to fix the root problems so we???re vulnerable to a repeat of the problems, and 3) that inadequate wealth redistribution was one of the core problems that we need to fix.

In my review of Supercapitalism I said, ???[his ideas are great] ??? but as an intellectual statement, he fails to address the question, ???How do we do this??????. This book seems to take that criticism seriously. It???s full of details specifying exactly what he thinks we should do. But the result is unsettling. At times I felt hypocritical, at other times I thought that the proposed action was mealy one of many that could follow from the assumptions, sometimes I agreed with him but felt that he???d gone too far, and sometimes I agreed but felt that some other political justification would be required.

I personally think that most of the issues he???s dealing with are what I will call ???sweet spot issues???. For example too much wealth redistribution kills innovation in the manor of communism; too little wealth redistribution kills innovation in the manor of feudalism, but at the sweet spot innovation explodes and takes the economy through the stratosphere.

These sweet spot issues are hard to discuss without being quite a bit more quantitative than is easy to do in a political discourse. Perhaps, lack of numeracy is a core problem with American political discourse.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Thomas
  • Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 12-14-10

Best understanding available

Reich gets it right with his analysis of how allowing the super-wealthy to capture the U.S. has led to its ruin, and how a rational re-distribution of wealth is a pre-condition of prosperity for both rich and poor. Very clearly written for the lay reader, this is the only explanation you need for how the financial system crashed in 2008.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Warren
  • Franklin, KY, United States
  • 10-15-10

Robert Reich is brilliant!!!

Once again Robert Reich nails it!!!
Very clearly explains how we got in the financial mess, and his suggested ideas to correct it and to keep it from happening again.
This book has really stimulated my thinking, and made me realize how wrong the current experts are in the way they are trying to address the challenges, with old solutions, that have been proven not to work.

Highly recomended.

Warren B. White
Nashville, TN

12 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Catherine
  • Bryn Mawr, PA, United States
  • 11-20-10

a compelling argument clearly delivered

Robert Reich has a gift for explaining complex economic arguments in a language a non-economist can understand. His argument here is very compelling and goes down easy read in his friendly, familiar voice. I give it 4 instead of 5 stars because the last third of the audio book seems like filler added at the insistence of a publisher, not necessary to make his argument. But the whole is a very pleasant listen and certainly convinced me that tea party demogagues notwithstanding, the American public is looking not for smaller but for fairer government, and getting there is critical to economic recovery and to the recovery of the legitimacy of our political system.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • James
  • Tacoma, WA, United States
  • 04-30-11

Nooo…please're making me think!!

Robert Reich I am sure gets his share of flack from the militant "Right"…and you really can’t publically show your support if you believe Dub-Yah and Reagan were “just like” having Jesus as the president…but for the rest of us…who suffer from, well actually…thinking…you might find this a good read. I give Reich a 8.5 for his presentation and 7 to 7.5 for detailed content. His target audience was the interested working American, who must live through this Investment Banker nightmare…and I appreciate his balanced explanation and suggestions to recover from the loving arms of uncontrolled Wall Street. Now, if you are really convinced that a monster, global exploiting, Wall Street controlled government will actually rebuild the middle class…well...stay away...turn up the Fox News volume...DON’T risk your mental façade!!! You have been warned.

6 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • Story

An eye-opener

Concise, clearly-expressed analysis of current economic conditions. A very convincing argument by a credible commentator.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful