Quarterly Essay 32: American Revolution

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Where were you when America elected Barack Obama? Kate Jennings was in New York, eyes wide open, completing her take on an amazing time: "the run-up to the election ... a time when every day felt like a year and we became slightly crazed from worry but also mesmerised, unable to switch off the cable news stations, obsessively tracking the DOW, VIX, LIBOR spreads, polls in red states. So much at stake."

American Revolution is a dazzling and perceptive look at the United States between hope and despair: an election-year kaleidoscope. Jennings describes how and why the US economy fell off a cliff and how an apparently endless run of primaries and an increasingly rancorous campaign culminated in a world-changing victory. She surveys the characters – Obama, Palin, McCain and the Clintons - and conveys the concepts – derivatives, bailouts and moral hazard. This is an essay that shows America in fascinating flux: it is witty and poetic, acute and evocative.


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