The Sum of Us Summary

Summary of The Sum of Us by Heather McGhee

The Sum of Us

The Sum of Us Book Complete Analysis & Study Guide Chapter by Chapter

A high-quality summary of Heather McGhee´s book The Sum of Us, including chapter details and analysis of the main themes of the original book.

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About The Sum of Us book

Heather McGhee’s area of expertise is the American economy, specifically the mystery of why it fails the American people so frequently. From the 2008 financial crisis to mounting student debt to deteriorating public infrastructure, she discovered a fundamental flaw in our politics and policymaking. People of color are treated unfairly in a variety of ways, not just in the most visible ones. Racism has ramifications for white people as well. It is the common denominator of our most perplexing public problems, the source of our collective spiritual and moral crises, and the heart of our democracy’s failure. But how did this happen? Is there a way to get out?

McGhee travels across the country, from Maine to Mississippi to California, counting what we lose when we believe in the zero-sum paradigm, which holds that development for some must come at the expense of others. Along the way, she meets white people who tell her how the toxic mix of American racism and greed has cost them their hopes, ambitions, and opportunities for better jobs. This is the story of how public goods in this country have become private luxuries, from parks and pools to functioning schools; of how unions have crumbled, wages have remained stagnant, and inequality has grown; and of how this country, unique among advanced economies, has thwarted universal healthcare.

McGhee finds evidence of what she calls the Solidarity Dividend in unexpected places like church and work: the benefits we gain when people of different races work together to accomplish what we can’t do alone. The Sum of Us is a brilliant examination of how we arrived here as well as a heartfelt appeal from a black woman to a multiracial America, delivered with remarkable sensitivity. It gives us a new outlook on the future, allowing us to realize that life is more than a zero-sum game.

Peter Cuomo

Written by Condensed Books


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