Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book Review: Losing Our Way


For a thought-provoking look at American society, read Losing Our Way: An Intimate Portrait of a Troubled America. Author Bob Herbert thoroughly researched our state of affairs regarding jobs, war, schools and disasters and points out troubling behind-the-scenes activities that may serve the interests of a few rather than the country.

Herbert faults money-hungry corporate CEOs for diverting money to themselves that should have gone toward decent wages for middle- and lower-class workers. He questions waging a war in which the lives of soldiers are sacrificed or horribly scarred by IEDs, sometimes to win villages where no serious threats exist. And he identifies some who labeled schools inefficient, perhaps for ulterior motives, and set in motion layoffs of staff, elimination of programs and implementation of testing from which the nation has never recovered. According to Herbert, poverty, an issue virtually ignored by the powers that be, is the area that needs to be assessed and addressed as to its impact on education.

As an indication of how we have failed those who serve, Herbert points out the alarming rate of suicides among military personnel and veterans. He also addresses the troubling matter of sexual abuse of women in the military as another area needing attention.

Herbert’s closing “Epilogue: Looking Ahead” begins with this paragraph: “The United States needs to be reimagined. What it has been doing for the past several decades has not worked for the majority of its people. A huge and growing segment of the American population has been left out of full participation in the society as a result of joblessness, underemployment, inadequate education and political and economic inequality.”

This book informed me of matters I’ve wondered about, especially as a former teacher. Whether or not you agree with Herbert’s conclusions, you will be a better informed citizen, more motivated to let your voice be heard, as a result of reading this interesting albeit alarming take on the state of affairs in America.


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