In the “Great Recession,” millions lost their jobs, retirement savings, and even their houses. The entire middle class was shaken. Yet almost no one...

In the “Great Recession,” millions lost their jobs, retirement savings, and even their houses. The entire middle class was shaken. Yet almost no one has been brought to justice. Quite the opposite: the big banks and investment houses–the places where the perpetrators most likely work and worked–were bailed out by the federal government under the banner of being “too big to fail.” Perhaps it’s the case that we will never know enough about what happened to indict anyone, or at least anyone in the upper reaches of the financial industry. But does that mean we don’t, in a general way, know who was responsible?

Not according to Hedrick Smith. In his new book Who Stole the American Dream? (Random House, 2012), the veteran reporter digs deep into American political and economic history to find out who we should blame for this colossal economic meltdown. What he found is surprising. The roots of the crisis go back farther than most people–experts included–think. Sure the bankers were involved, but so were politicians (including, of all people Jimmy Carter)–a lot of them. According to Smith, there’s plenty of blame to go around, at least in corporate boardrooms and the corridors of power in Washington.

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