American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper

Jacob S. Hacker, Yale University, Paul Pierson , University of California, Berkeley

Businesses, unions, and government all contributed to U.S. prosperity in the mid-20th century, until extremist politics pulled the country off course. In an enlightening and timely new book, two of America’s leading public intellectuals explore this misunderstood past to explain why a new version of the mixed economy is essential to future growth and social progress.

In American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper, Hacker and Pierson explain how America flourished in an era of bargains and balance between the federal government and private business. Excerpts from the book are featured in The American ProspectMother Jones, and the New York Times. In a recent OpEd for The Atlantic, Hacker and Pierson highlight the roots of mid-century gains in public health, education, and infrastructure development. And in OpEd for the New York Times they offer a fresh perspective on the 2016 election, the newest phase in the country’s ongoing political battle over the role of government.

Hacker and Pierson joined No Jargon for a two-part series to discuss the forgotten history of American prosperity. Tune-in to part one with Pierson on Episode 29: What Made America Great and part two with Hacker on Episode 30: What Made America Great, Again?


Jacob S. Hacker is the Stanley B. Resor Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. He has researched and written about American health care reform, economic insecurities, and the impact of business interests in politics.

Paul Pierson is the John Gross Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. He has studied and written on social welfare programs and tax policies in the U.S. and other affluent nations.   

March 2016