A review of


Americans Reaching for Hope

Are We Punishing the Poor?

by David Meyer

Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn detail how US life expectancy is declining as misguided government policies punish the poor. The Pulitzer Prize-winning co-authors weave history and policy analysis into profiles of working-class Americans.

Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, the first husband-and-wife team to share a Pulitzer Prize for journalism, won for their book Half the Sky. They co-wrote the bestsellers A Path Appears, Thunder from the East and China Wakes. Kristof, an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, also won a 2006 Pulitzer Prize for his columns on Darfur. An experienced journalist, WuDunn served at The Times as a business editor and foreign correspondent.

In Tightrope, Kristof and WuDunn detail the United States’ shift from progressive to conservative policies that emphasize personal – not collective – responsibility for individual hardships. They report that a stagnant standard of living has afflicted working-class people in the United States since the 1970s, and it contributes to the first persistent life expectancy decline in the United States in a century. The co-authors weave history and policy analysis into profiles of working-class Americans. They make several policy recommendations, including one striking note: Focus remedial actions on children in poverty.

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