Anyone who has copies of Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth (Rodale Press, 2006) and Elizabeth Warren's A Fighting Chance (Metropolitan Books, 2014) on his or her bookshelf will want to add a third title to that collection: Jill Cody's America Abandoned (Writing Endeavors Press, 2016). The subject matter of Cody's book is succinctly summed up in its subtitle: The Secret Velvet Coup That Cost Us Our Democracy. What Gore accomplished in calling widespread attention to the dangers of global warming, and what Warren achieved in uncovering the predatory banking practices in the United States, practices largely responsible for the rapid, financial decline of America's Middle Class, Cody has equaled in detailing the ways a relatively small number of enormously wealthy individuals have managed to replace, to an extraordinary extent, American democracy with what is essentially an oligarchy shockingly indifferent—even hostile—to the needs and interests of everyday Americans.
Cody's work is the first book in what promises to be an ongoing promotion of research into major social issues, a collection to be published under the collective title ”The America Abandonment Series.” (Book II, titled Climate Abandoned: Uncovering the Real Reasons for the Climate Crisis, is currently in the works and scheduled for publication in Fall of 2017.) That series could not have gotten off to a better start than it has with Cody's study.
America Abandoned, like A fighting Chance, begins with an account of some highly personal and difficult experiences on the part of the author, and then moves quickly into a gripping description of how those personal experiences are mirrored by a national disaster, a veritable coup the nature and extent of which have gone largely undefined and thus more or less unnoticed by the general population. That coup, nevertheless, has done great financial harm to almost everyone in the country, with the exception of the super-wealthy few responsible for it. Cody focuses on the myriad ways a handful of people, each with literally billions and billions of dollars at their disposal, have been able to siphon off much of the country's wealth into their own, exclusive pockets. And this, at terrible costs to the diminishing Middle Class and the expanding numbers of the desperately poor. (How many people know, for example, that in this supposedly blessed country one in four children lives at the official poverty level? Or that members of Congress, almost all of them Republicans, have tried repeatedly to drastically reduce federal funds available to provide school lunches for those children?)
With chapters exploring how the rich have taken control of both major political parties, Congress, much of the media, key government regulatory agencies, the education establishment, etc. Cody paints a devastating picture of how effectively the so-called 1%-ers have undermined the American democratic process, thereby quietly stealing much of the personal freedom Americans like to pride themselves on.
Echoing the passionate voice of Elizabeth Warren, and offering a remarkable amount of in-depth research reminiscent of Gore's best work, Cody makes her case in a book which is as hard to put down as it is, at times, painful to read. But hers is not so much a lament of despair as it is a compelling and thus, finally, optimistic call to action. Each of her chapters concludes with a section titled “Stand Up Activities” with concrete, specific suggestions for how the reader can work constructively in the fight to regain a true democracy and real personal freedom in the United States. In the extensive lists of “Resources” for each chapter, the book also offers a wealth of information where an interested reader can both check the accuracy of Cody's research and further explore any of the ideas she lays out in her study.
America Abandoned is the most important book I've read over the past few years. It belongs at the very top of the New York Times' “Best Sellers List.” I hope to see it there soon.