In This Review

Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent
Time to Start Thinking: America in the Age of Descent
By Edward Luce
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2012, 320 pp

In the debate over whether the United States is in decline and, if it is, what should be done about it, Luce takes a strong view. American decline is well under way, he argues, and the odds for a reversal of fortune are perhaps lower than Americans would like. On the one hand, Luce sees an inexorably rising China, which even according to conservative projections may have a GDP that is 25 percent bigger than that of the United States by 2030. On the other, Luce sees a United States that cannot reform. Tea Party fervor ensures that the GOP will be strong enough and conservative enough to block needed change. President Barack Obama, in Luce’s view, lacks the political drive and skills to push the GOP back. Most fundamentally, Luce fears that the United States no longer knows how to promote the prosperity of the American middle class. In this well-reported and extensively researched book, Luce puts his finger on many of the country’s most serious problems and explores the gaping disconnect between elite optimism and popular bewilderment, anger, and despair.