Summary of High Wire

The Precarious Financial Lives of American Families

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High Wire book summary
The “ownership society” benefits only a few. The U.S. must return to the cooperative values of its founders.


8 Overall

9 Applicability

6 Innovation

7 Style


Peter Gosselin discusses real problems that American families face today, especially those of the working poor. However, he views the past nostalgically. Nostalgia can be comforting, as you retreat from an uncomfortable present to a better past. You imagine former times as simpler, richer and nobler than the reality with which you struggle each day. But people of the past faced problems, too, and those led them to make the choices that resulted in the current situation. Gosselin sincerely wishes to improve society. His perspective is progressive. Politically conservative readers may fear that his solution would turn more of the U.S. economy over to the control of politicians and bureaucrats, concentrating power and decision making into fewer hands. However, the book is a passionately written cry from the heart; if nothing else, it is a wake-up call. getAbstract recommends it to human resource personnel who are concerned about work-family balance and benefits, as well as to current-events junkies and observers of politics and the economy.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How life has become more unstable for all but the wealthiest Americans
  • How your job, health and home are more at risk now than in the past
  • Why Americans need to adopt a more cooperative view of society and share each other’s burdens


The “Body Politic”
The Pilgrims who settled New England in 1620 understood that if they wanted to survive, they would need to cooperate with each other. In their Mayflower Compact, they agreed to “combine [themselves] together into a civil body politic.” Thus, Americans have a long tradition...
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About the Author

Peter Gosselin is a Washington correspondent for the Los Angeles Times. He is also a visiting fellow at the Urban Institute. He has won the George Polk Award twice.

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