Ours Was the Shining Future: The Story of the American Dream
Date and Time:
Nov 2 2023 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Note: Event start time is Central Time (CT).


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David Leonhardt

Pulitzer Prize-winning senior writer for The New York Times

Matthew Desmond, Ph.D.

Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology, Princeton University

Ours Was the Shining Future: The Story of the American Dream

American History | Belonging | Business | Civics | Civil Rights | Community | Culture | Economics | Education | Entrepreneurship | Equity | Family | History | Housing | Immigration | Inequality | Innovation | Leadership | Public Health | Public Policy | Race | Social Justice | Sociology

BONUS AFTER-HOURS EVENT: Attendees who purchase a copy of Ours Was the Shining Future from FAN’s partner bookseller The Book Stall are invited to attend an AFTER-HOURS event hosted by Leonhardt that will start immediately after the webinar. Details on the webinar registration page.

Two decades into the twenty-first century, the stagnation of living standards has become the defining trend of American life. Life expectancy has declined, economic inequality has soared, and, after some progress, the Black-white wage gap is once again as large as it was in the 1950s. How did this happen in the world’s most powerful country? And what happened to the “American dream”—the promise of a happier, healthier, more prosperous future—which was once such an inextricable part of our national identity?

In his first book, Ours Was the Shining Future: The Story of the American Dream, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer David Leonhardt draws on decades of writing about the economy for The New York Times, examining the past century of American history, from the Great Depression to today’s Great Stagnation, in search of an answer. To make sense of the rise and subsequent fall of the American dream, Leonhardt tells the story of the modern American economy as an ongoing battle between two competing forms of capitalism: one that envisions prosperity for most, and one that serves the individual and favors the wealthy. In vivid prose, Ours Was the Shining Future traces how democratic capitalism flourished to make the American dream possible, until the latter decades of the twentieth century when, bit by bit, the dream was corrupted to serve only the privileged few.Ours Was the Shining Future is a sweeping narrative full of innovation and grit, human drama and hope. Featuring the trailblazing figures who helped shape the American dream—Frances Perkins, Paul Hoffman, Cesar Chavez, Robert Kennedy, A. Philip Randolph, Grace Hopper, and more—this engaging history reveals the power of grassroots democratic movements from across the political spectrum. And though the American dream feels lost to us now, Leonhardt shows how Americans—if they commit themselves to transforming the economy, as they did in the past—have the power to revive the dream once more.

Leonhardt is a senior writer at The New York Times, where he writes its flagship newsletter, “The Morning.” He has also been the newspaper’s Washington bureau chief, an op-ed columnist, a staff writer for The New York Times Magazine, and the founding editor of “The Upshot.”

Leonhardt will be in conversation with Matthew Desmond, Ph.D. (FAN ’16, ’23), the Maurice P. During Professor of Sociology, and the founder and principal investigator of The Eviction Lab at Princeton University. He is the is the author of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winner Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City and Poverty, by America, both New York Times bestsellers.

This event suitable for youth 12+. It will be recorded and available on FAN’s website and YouTube channel.