What We Are Reading: December 2021

Milk cartons carry expiration dates. But, for obvious reasons, they don’t need them. History books don’t carry expiration dates. But, for less obvious reasons, they do need them. History books expire when archival discoveries supplant earlier narratives or when new interpretive theories emerge.

Lucky for historical posterity, decades more will have to pass before Matt Taibbi’s Griftopia expires. Taibbi’s acerbic prose mimics the little boy who pointed out the king had no clothes, but only if that lad had first swallowed three gallons of coffee and a mouthful of yellow jackets. Written ten years ago, the still-fresh Griftopia reminds readers in 2021 why American deplorables who suffered the destruction of their livelihoods, lifestyle, and culture voted for wholesale change in 2016 and 2020. Taibbi details Wall Street swashbucklers’ rapacious assault on middle America with sarcastic humor and painful specificity. Despite his reflexive hatred of “Tea Baggers” and the right, red staters can still ally with this enemy of their enemy as he takes down those who took down the global economy.

Griftopia will both enlighten and enrage you. Its seven raucous chapters skewer Alan Greenspan as “The Biggest Asshole in the Universe,” Wall Street banks, and unbridled greed. Taibbi explains the arcane...

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