Evil Geniuses Book Summary - Evil Geniuses Book explained in key points
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Evil Geniuses summary

Kurt Andersen

The Unmaking of America: A Recent History

3.8 (156 ratings)
26 mins

Brief summary

Evil Geniuses by Kurt Andersen is a non-fiction book that critically examines how the wealthy elite and corporations have shaped American society and politics since the 1970s through their influence in Reaganomics, Silicon Valley, entertainment, and other industries.

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    Evil Geniuses
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    Since the end of the twentieth century, America has become more nostalgic – and stagnant.

    America was once the land of tomorrow. Leaving the old monarchies and traditions of Europe behind, it looked toward new horizons. New religions, new inventions, and new enterprises all flourished.

    The twentieth century brought radical change, too – think space travel, rock and roll, and the civil rights movement. But sometime at the end of the last century, this drive toward modernity began to slow down. 

    The key message here is: Since the end of the twentieth century, America has become more nostalgic – and stagnant.

    Author Kurt Andersen first noticed this in 2007, when he came across a newspaper photograph from twenty years earlier. The photo showed some stylish-looking people standing around on a US city street. Studying their clothes and hairstyles, he noticed how similar they looked to people in 2007. 

    This led him to something of an epiphany. Looking at cars, fashion, music, and design in 2007, he realized how little things had fundamentally changed since 1987. Aside from mobile phones or computers, there was very little in 2007 that looked or sounded new

    By contrast, the twentieth century ushered in one radically new cultural era after another. Just think of the dramatic transition from 1955 to 1965 – the freedom-fueled music and fashion of the 1960s were worlds apart from the conservative norms of the 1950s. So what happened? 

    Well, quite simply, America has abandoned the new and embraced nostalgia. This turn toward nostalgia began as early as the 1970s. Just after the radical changes of the 1960s, a great chunk of the American public started to quietly long for the past – or, more accurately, an imagined past, where everything felt more familiar and stable. 

    This could be seen in the mass popularity of movies and TV shows of the period, like Grease, American Graffiti, and Happy Days, which were all set in idealized versions of the 1950s and early ’60s. 

    This desire for nostalgia in the US hasn’t slowed as we’ve moved further into the twenty-first century. Aside from technological advances, cultural change seems to be at a standstill. Fashion, music, and design are still repeating styles from different periods in the twentieth century. Retro is cool.

    Why does this matter? Well, it reflects a broader impasse that goes way beyond fashion or music. It tells us that America is stuck in a time warp, both politically and economically. And with the problems the country faces, like inequality and climate change, it simply can’t afford to look backward. 

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    What is Evil Geniuses about?

    Evil Geniuses (2020) describes the rise of the economic right after the 1960s and the consequences of their policies today. From Milton Friedman to Ronald Reagan, it looks at the significance of some of the right’s central figures while also sketching a broader narrative that explains how the US has ended up as it has today.

    Evil Geniuses Review

    Evil Geniuses (2020) explores the rise of conservatism in America over the past 50 years, providing an in-depth analysis of how it has shaped our society. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • Thoroughly researched and meticulously documented, it offers a comprehensive understanding of the conservative movement and its impact on politics, culture, and the economy.
    • By delving into historical events, key figures, and influential ideologies, the book sheds light on the underlying forces that have fueled the rise of conservatism.
    • Through its thought-provoking insights and critical analysis, it challenges conventional wisdom, encouraging readers to question their own beliefs and assumptions.

    Who should read Evil Geniuses?

    • Anyone interested in American history
    • Americans looking for a way to explain their present situation
    • Fans of political history and economics

    About the Author

    Kurt Andersen is a journalist, novelist, and radio host. He’s the author of Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire: A 500-Year History, which was a New York Times best seller. He’s also the author of the critically acclaimed novels True Believers, Heyday, and Turn of the Century. 

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    Evil Geniuses FAQs 

    What is the main message of Evil Geniuses?

    The main message of Evil Geniuses is an exploration of how a generation of American elites rewrote the rules of capitalism.

    How long does it take to read Evil Geniuses?

    The reading time for Evil Geniuses varies, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Evil Geniuses a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Evil Geniuses is worth reading as a thought-provoking analysis of America's economic inequality and its consequences on society.

    Who is the author of Evil Geniuses?

    The author of Evil Geniuses is Kurt Andersen.

    What to read after Evil Geniuses?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Evil Geniuses, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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