Is the Future of the American Dream in Crisis?

New Book Explores the 'Opportunity Gap' in America   

by VERGE Staff | News and Politics | Monday, December 9, 2013

Opportunity Gap in the America

Simon & Schuster has acquired bestselling author of Bowling Alone and Harvard academic Robert Putnam’s upcoming book, Our Kids: The American Dream in Crisis, a story- and data-driven study of the “opportunity gap” in the United States, slated for publication in 2015. President Obama's major speech on economic insecurity and upward mobility on December 4th drew on Putnam’s early research. 

Putnam argues that fundamental to the American Dream is the belief that our children will have better lives than we do, that Americans believe in equality of opportunity, limited only by one’s talent and hard work. But recent decades have left more Americans doubting this belief. In addition to illustrating newly researched national data, Putnam will tell this story through compelling coming-of-age stories of how growing up rich and poor has changed in all corners of America—in rural areas, the suburbs, and big cities—over the last several decades. Putnam even draws on his own story and those from his home town community in Port Clinton, Ohio, to demonstrate the crumbling American Dream.

Putnam consults widely with national leaders, including President Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, and Paul Ryan, as well as with national leaders in Britain and France and grassroots activists around the world. He founded the Saguaro Seminar, bringing together leading thinkers and practitioners to develop actionable ideas for civic renewal.

The London Sunday Times has called Robert D. Putnam “the most influential academic in the world today.” The Peter and Isabel Malkin Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, he is the author or coauthor of fourteen books, translated into twenty languages, including the bestselling Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community and American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, USA Today, San Francisco Chronicle, Boston Globe, and many other publications.

Educated at Swarthmore, Oxford, and Yale, Putnam has served as Dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the British Academy, and is a past president of the American Political Science Association. A recipient of both the National Humanities Medal and Skytte Prize, the most prestigious international award for scholarly achievement in political science. 

Source: Simon and Schuster; Photo credit: Miles Sherrill  

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