When America Stopped Being Great: A History of the Present
In When America Stopped Being Great, veteran reporter and BBC New York correspondent Nick Bryant reveals how America’s decline paved the way for Donald Trump’s rise, sowing division and leaving the country vulnerable to its greatest challenge of the modern era.
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Deftly sifting through almost four decades of American history, from post-Cold War optimism, through the scandal-wracked nineties and into the new millennium, Bryant unpacks the mistakes of past administrations, from Ronald Reagan’s ‘celebrity presidency’ to Barack Obama’s failure to adequately address income and racial inequality. He explains how the historical clues, unseen by many (including the media) paved the way for an outsider to take power and a country to slide towards disaster. As Bryant writes, ‘rather than being an aberration, Trump’s presidency marked the culmination of so much of what had been going wrong in the United States for decades – economically, racially, politically, culturally, technologically and constitutionally.’
A personal elegy for an America lost, unafraid to criticise actors on both sides of the political divide, When America Stopped Being Great takes the long view, combining engaging storytelling with recent history to show how the country moved from the optimism of Reagan’s ‘Morning in America’ to the darkness of Trump’s ‘American Carnage’. It concludes with some of the most dramatic events in recent memory, in an America torn apart by a bitterly polarised election, racial division, the national catastrophe of the coronavirus and the threat to US democracy evidenced by the storming of Capitol Hill.