MixedThe Washington PostHedges portrays this nightmarish situation as the fulfillment of Karl Marx’s prediction of the eventual end of capitalism. This vision of capitalism’s demise is slightly puzzling, given that in his account, capitalism seems to be steamrollering everything in its path. But he argues that all this winning is only serving to make clear capitalism’s fundamental hollowness and deceit, which represent the seeds of its ultimate destruction ... The most engaging parts of the book are the searing portraits he presents of individuals victimized in six arenas that he explores in detail: drug addiction, pornography, gambling, the criminal justice system, extremist groups and the search for meaningful, well-paid work. He takes the reader inside these issues in ways that are often telling and memorable, and sheds light on a variety of troubled U.S. cities ... Yet this exploration of American society is unrelieved in its negativism ... he demonizes his political opponents and invokes black-and-white dichotomies with a cringe-worthy lack of self-reflection ... He evinces a relatively simplistic vision for economic revival ... the reader is left not just reeling from the unrelieved darkness of the verdict against capitalism but wondering about some basic questions.
PositiveThe Washington PostThe comprehensiveness of Mounk’s analysis of populism’s advance is valuable, helping get beyond narratives that focus on a few especially colorful or nasty political figures or movements. Yet in painting analytically with such broad strokes and bold colors, Mounk sometimes sacrifices nuance.