Books by William Greider

HISTORY
Released: March 17, 2009

"Astute, hopeful and humane commentary."
The Nation's national affairs correspondent diagnoses America's perilous state and calls for a rebirth of participatory democracy. Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Sept. 1, 2003

"Though it lacks the thrills, chills, and spills of his Secrets of the Temple (1987), Greider's latest does a good job of arguing for a future economics with a human face."
A cri de bourse against a heartless, soulless economic system by a master of financial journalism. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: Nov. 1, 1998

A journalistic look at the primary post-Soviet threat to the American military. Greider (One World, Ready or Not, 1996, etc.) thrives on saying the emperor has no clothes, and his knack for pointing out the obvious but unseen means only those who consciously avert their eyes can pretend nothing is amiss. He argues here that America's military-industrial complex is in a state of denial about the end of the Cold War, and that "the status quo in national defense is not going to survive" unless decision-makers confront reality. Instead of the demobilization that has followed previous conflicts, military, political, and industrial leaders are acting as if current budget reductions represent a temporary squeeze rather than a new norm. Rather than give up new weapons systems the Pentagon cuts training and personnel costs, leaving the warriors and their machines "competing with each other for the money." Rather than admit that the economy Reagan built on defense spending no longer exists and face the political pain of base closings, politicians drain the budget to keep open barely utilized facilities. Rather than rethink and retool the weapons industry, huge factories operate at a fraction of their capacity. But the contradictions between these policies and the political and financial pressures of a post—Cold War budget cannot be sustained indefinitely, and without rethinking priorities, the ability of the military itself to function will be undermined. Greider's observation while perusing a seemingly endless line of military hardware now parked and waiting for a conflict in Europe that did not happen captures the problem: what do we do "now that a general peace is upon us? We don't know the answer. We don't even want to talk about it." Perhaps this honest glimpse of an untenable situation will start a conversation. (Author tour) Read full book review >
NON-FICTION
Released: Jan. 1, 1997

Greider (Who Will Tell the People, 1992, etc) has looked into the future and determined it won't work to his progressive/populist satisfaction. Indeed, the author foresees rack and ruin if steps aren't taken to deliver the postCold War world from the ravages of what he views as a new, out-of-control industrial revolution. Attempting to go behind the numbers usually used to describe the global economy, Greider draws largely on anecdotal material gathered during extended sojourns in a dozen Asian, European, and North American countries. He provides a dour guide to the ways in which the unrestrained advance of conscienceless capitalism (without an effective challenger since socialism's dramatic demise) could, in combination with the globalization of commerce, lead to overcapacity, glutted markets, superfluous labor, unbridled speculation, recurrent debt crises, social disorder, and worse. Informed by an abiding suspicion as to the ability of free markets to match supply and demand with any consistency, the author first focuses on mutinationals, essentially stateless enterprises that, he warns, are gaining awesome economic power without thoughtful, let alone effectual, oversight. The author next casts a cold eye on institutional investors whose collective trading judgments have on occasion brought the Global Village's largest companies to book and frequently left sovereign governments something less than masters of their own financial houses. For his windup, Greider offers a potpourri of power-to-the-people proposals on how socioeconomic catastrophe might be avoided in the period ahead. He commends such liberal articles of faith as managing trade as a zero-sum game (i.e., with a loser for every winner); redressing the imbalance of returns that separates wage earners from the rentier class; imposing transaction taxes on cross-border flows of capital; obliging firms not only to protect the environment but also to embrace the arguable concept of sustainable development; and creating new forms of labor unions. Politically correct alarmism masquerading as prophetic analysis. Read full book review >
HISTORY
Released: May 4, 1992

An angry inquiry into the putative decline of democracy in the US. Unlike many observers, Greider (Secrets of the Temple, 1987, etc.) goes beyond the manifest deficiencies of electoral campaigns to focus on the politics of governance—and he concludes that so- called monied interests are ascendant in Washington's power centers. By the author's anecdotal account, the institutionalized intervention of these corporate advocates into administrative as well as legislative affairs costs ordinary citizens dearly—from purposefully lax enforcement of federal law and indulgent treatment of casino capitalism through an inequitable tax system. In Greider's canon, the sorry state of the union does not lack for guilty parties. He blames the ebb of democracy in America on both major political parties (which cater to affluent elites), the press (which no longer mediates between the public and its representatives), big business (as exemplified by the awesome influence wielded by General Electric Co.), and even the populace (whose activism has been limited of late to grass-roots concerns). Greider goes on to argue that the cold war's end offers the US a historic opportunity to renew its democratic principles and to apply them on a global basis. For starters, he proposes that a citizenry committed to challenging the status quo could make multinational enterprises more accountable to society at large, if need be by denying them access to the vast domestic marketplace until they measure up to populist standards of responsibility. Whether the heterogeneous American people have an agenda as explicitly progressive as Greider assumes (and embraces) will strike many as a very open question. Still, a provocative and sobering assessment of how self-government's reach can exceed its grasp. Read full book review >