• Review: The story of what makes – and unmakes – the American Dream

    June 14, 2014

    Tags: ,
    Posted in: #99Percent, Democracy, Economy

    An Amazon reviewer had this to say about Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent:

    Read this book. If you ever wonder what happened to the American middle class over the past 30 years or to the economy in the course of the last five years.

    Read it, though Ghost of Tom Joad is not an easy read. The portrait it paints is depressing. This is a hard reality to face. And Peter Van Buren doesn’t make it any easier by writing it partly as lived experience and partly as a political statement on America. There are moments of great descriptive writing and then there are whole racks of statistics that break the narrative flow.

    But none of this can take away from the importance of this book. It is a compassionate look at the American Dream since 1973 through the eyes of someone whose experience has been more nightmare than dream-like. It is also a cautionary tale– recognize the path that brought us to this pass in order to find a way out of the morass. The references to Grapes of Wrath are well-woven into the story and remind us of the need for constant vigilance to prevent exploitation.

    But this is not just a political commentary. Van Buren has written a very human story about a man’s life, his expectations and disappointments. It is the story about his decisions, the results that ensue, his limited room to maneuver because of a system that he doesn’t fully understand until it’s too late. It is also a story about the people who inhabit his world and their efforts to survive, against all odds. Heartbreaking, yet familiar to anyone who has paid attention to the heartland of America over the past thirty years.

    Every American should read this book. And the wider world as well to understand what makes – and unmakes – the American Dream.

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    Copyright © 2020. All rights reserved. The views expressed here are solely those of the author(s) in their private capacity.

  • Recent Comments

    • pitchfork said...


      Peter, I still haven’t found time to read it. I’m too busy at 69yrs old, living it. But, come this winter, if it’s anything like last winter, I’ll have plenty of sitting by the fire trying to stay warm evenings to finally read it. Right now, survival and cutting firewood for next winter is totally tapping me. Last winter was so bad, the local Propane companies almost ran out, and had to bring in supplies for Michigan from other states. By Feburary, they were charging, unbeknownst to me for three months..TEN DOLLARS A GALLON!!! I about flipped out when I got the first monthly bill. It’ll take me till next winter to pay them off. Ain’t gonna happen next year. That’s why I’m desperately trying to get enough wood in to survive the winter without propane.

      On a side note, I ran across some history this morning that may be of interest to someone out there, since it regards two of your recent subject matters..Wal/Mart and Hillary Clinton.

      Sooprise sooprise..


      whudda thunk. Clinton was on the first board of directors of …you got it.. WAL-MART.

      06/15/14 11:24 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      Hey, speaking of Ms Walmart Clinton, I was researching some things the other day to post on your “Clinton” thread, one being Ray McGovern, who as you know, in that infamous moment a couple of years ago during a Clinton speech, turned his back on Clinton and was immediately assaulted and arrested. Well, unbeknownst to me, as I really never knew who he was, McGovern has been on the battlefront of foreign policy since Vietnam.

      Anyway, just ran across three recent articles of his. Wow. This dude knows his shit and isn’t afraid to say it. Know I know how this guy had the courage to turn his back on Clinton.




      sorry for posting other subject matter. I just feel it might be of interest.

      06/15/14 11:45 AM | Comment Link

    • pitchfork said...


      ps in regards to McGoverns article on the USS Liberty


      If America ever knew what the USG has done they would revolt in a New York second. I have NO doubts about 9/11 now.

      06/15/14 1:37 PM | Comment Link

    • Dave said...


      If every American should read it, please let us know which public library in the DC area offers the book. Thanks.

      06/16/14 3:15 AM | Comment Link

    • wemeantwell said...


      Ask your librarian to order it if it is not on the shelf. Or read it in a bookstore. Most B&N carry it and will let you read for pretty much as long as you like. Check with a local bookstore. Many will let you buy a book and then return it within a set period of time.

      06/16/14 3:36 AM | Comment Link

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