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Publisher's Summary

A powerful and original argument that traces the roots of our present crisis of authority to an unlikely source: the meritocracy.

Over the past decade, Americans watched in bafflement and rage as one institution after another - from Wall Street to Congress, the Catholic Church to corporate America, even Major League Baseball - imploded under the weight of corruption and incompetence. In the wake of the Fail Decade, Americans have historically low levels of trust in their institutions; the social contract between ordinary citizens and elites lies in tatters.

How did we get here? With Twilight of the Elites, Christopher Hayes offers a radically novel answer. Since the 1960s, as the meritocracy elevated a more diverse group of men and women into power, they learned to embrace the accelerating inequality that had placed them near the very top. Their ascension heightened social distance and spawned a new American elite - one more prone to failure and corruption than any that came before it.

Mixing deft political analysis, timely social commentary, and deep historical understanding, Twilight of the Elites describes how the society we have come to inhabit - utterly forgiving at the top and relentlessly punitive at the bottom - produces leaders who are out of touch with the people they have been trusted to govern. Hayes argues that the public's failure to trust the federal government, corporate America, and the media has led to a crisis of authority that threatens to engulf not just our politics but our day-to-day lives.

Upending well-worn ideological and partisan categories, Hayes entirely reorients our perspective on our times. Twilight of the Elites is the defining work of social criticism for the post-bailout age.

©2012 Christopher Hayes (P)2012 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"[L]ively and well-informed.Offering feasible proposals for change, this cogent social commentary urges us to reconstruct our institutions so we can once again trust them." ( Publishers Weekly)
"[A] forcefully written debut.... A provocative discussion of the deeper causes of our current discontent, written with verve and meriting wide interest." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"This is the Next Big Thing that we have been waiting for. Twilight of the Elites is the fully reported, detailed, true story of a 21st century America beyond the reach of authority. It's new, and true, and beautifully told - Hayes is the young left's most erudite and urgent interpreter. Brilliant book." (Rachel Maddow, host of The Rachel Maddow Show and author of Drift)

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Mark
  • Paducah, KY, United States
  • 11-23-12

A wealth of Information

If you could sum up Twilight of the Elites in three words, what would they be?

Understanding Why !!

Any additional comments?

getting a better view and understanding of why things happen and how they are influenced will help get things changed for the better if you choose to do something about it :-)

  • Overall
  • Performance
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  • A
  • 11-16-12

A cultural essay that America's been screaming for

Where does Twilight of the Elites rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the most informative, new thought, audiobooks I've listened to.

What did you like best about this story?

Hayes proves that the tea party and occupy wallstreet movement are one in the same.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

"The teaparty wants to live back in the 50's and occupy wallstreeters want to work in the 50's." Love it.

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  • Hilary
  • Delafield, Wisconsin, United States
  • 10-14-12

Chris Hayes - freshest voice of his generation

Any additional comments?

Chris Hayes is a skilled speaker and writer. He is unfailingly intelligent, critical and honest. His book is absolutely worth a read or a listen and will educate and interest a wide range of audiences.

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  • Jason
  • Penfield, NY, United States
  • 09-17-12

Good Listen

Found the book very engaging. If you like "Up" with Chris Hayes and weekend mornings then you'll also enjoy this.

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  • Rocky P
  • Owyhee, NV, United States
  • 09-10-12

Just freakin Brilliant!

What did you love best about Twilight of the Elites?

So many real life examples and data & sarcatic humor by Chris Hayes

Who was your favorite character and why?

Story bout Major league baseball gettin exposed wit steriod usage and how it plays into corruption among the elites

Which character – as performed by Christopher Hayes – was your favorite?

Every character Exposing Right Wing / Tea Party Leader

If you could give Twilight of the Elites a new subtitle, what would it be?

Toxic BS propaganda of the elites

Any additional comments?

Totally refreshing, Chris Hayes is a master of words. Never heard anyone explain and expose the Right wing elites so well, definately worth a read, you will not be dissappointed (1 of my all time favs)

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  • Cynthia
  • LEESBURG, VIRGINIA, United States
  • 08-28-12

Revolutionary Read

Where does Twilight of the Elites rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

One of the best. Inspirational, a call to action and answers the question "why are things so messed up right now"?

What about Christopher Hayes’s performance did you like?

Emotional, read his own book so knew exactly what to emphasize.

What’s the most interesting tidbit you’ve picked up from this book?

Meritocracy isn't perfect.

Any additional comments?

I think everyone should read this book.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Not what I expected!

What did you love best about Twilight of the Elites?

Chris Hayes was able to fill your mind full of useful facts while keeping you very entertained.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Twilight of the Elites?

While I am a lifelong sports fan I learned several details that I had not known before.

Have you listened to any of Christopher Hayes’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I have not.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Most definitely.

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  • Jim
  • Laurel, MD, United States
  • 08-13-12

Informative perspective

Where does Twilight of the Elites rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Very good for non fiction

What did you like best about this story?

Discovering a new way to look at meritocracy.

Which character – as performed by Christopher Hayes – was your favorite?

Non-applicable

If you could give Twilight of the Elites a new subtitle, what would it be?

A class system within a meritocracy

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Gives names to important issues.

Chris Hayes, editor at large of The Nation, and host of his own show on MSNBC, identifies some serious issues, and makes a sound case for them, without offering serious solutions, though giving a problem a name is the beginning of a discussion about possible solutions. His primary point is that our nation has come to be based on meritocracy rather than inherited aristocracy, i.e., being able to rise competitively from whatever class we are born into to elite status by being identified as exceptionally intelligent and having access to elite education at exclusive schools or being so successful in business as to accumulate exceptional wealth, but those considered elite do not always act competently or in the best interests of society. Being smart or a good businessperson is not necessarily accompanied by good character, good citizenship, or good judgment.

Further, the privilege of elite status has not come with accountability for performance commensurate with that status, and therefore extreme failures by the elites are not corrected and are in fact perpetuated, compounded, or even rewarded. Elites depend upon other elite "experts" for guidance about major issues, and their life experience becomes so far removed from that of those affected by their decisions that they make decisions they might not make if they or their loved ones had to experience the consequences themselves. His excellent examples range from the White House to the world of sports. As for a solution, he points to the Occupy movement. This is unsatisfactory [imho], since the Occupy movement lacked leadership sufficient to press its causes politically, but his point is really that a revolutionary way of viewing and exercising power and merit in our society is needed, short of revolution in the streets.

Hayes narrates his own book, and even though his voice is not sonorous, it is easy to listen to, and his emphasis adds to the meaning of his points. In general a good "read."

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Rob
  • Madison, WI, United States
  • 07-11-12

Excellent and Insightful

Chris Hayes is very bright and I really enjoyed this book. He has many keen insights on just how a system seemingly based on merit has dug us into a whole that looks pretty tough to get out of at this moment. I didn't mind Hayes' narration of the book, but he would have done himself and the book a favor by getting a professional. I think he was trying to emulate Rachel Maddow's success in narrating her brilliant work, Drift, but he just didn't pull it off.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful