In his bestselling The Russians, PULITZER PRIZE WINNER Hedrick Smith took millions of readers inside the Soviet Union. In The Power Game, he took us inside Washington’s corridors of power. Now, in Who Stole The American Dream?, Smith takes us across America to show how seismic changes, sparked by a sequence of landmark political and economic decisions, have transformed America.


In his pioneering book Who Stole the American Dream?  Pulitzer Prize winner Hedrick Smith explained the rise of  economic inequality in America and how big money interests have captured our political system. With penetrating reporting< Smith unearthed an eye-opening account of how, over the past four decades, the middle-class American Dream was dismantled and how significant changes in American capitalism created Two Americas, divided by wealth and power. In telling how America evolved, Smith weaves together human narratives of average Americans struggling to stay afloat financially with penetrating profiles of hidden movers and shakers in the corridors of corporate and political power.

For PBS, Smith has now created a video sequel, The Democracy Rebellion, a compelling one-hour documentary on the rise of citizen reform movements working to restore fairer, cleaner elections and to battle against billionaire campaign donors. It’s the missing story of American politics. Not Washington, but grassroots America. Not negative ads and billionaire donors, but positive change and people power pressing for gerrymander reform, voting rights, exposing dark money, and winning surprising victories to make elections cleaner and fairer in states as disparate as Florida and California, North Carolina and South Dakota, Ohio, Michigan, Colorado, Missouri, Utah and more.

In his global best-seller, The Russians, Smith took millions of readers inside the Soviet Union. In The Power Game, he took us inside Washington’s corridors of power. And in Who Stole the American Dream? Smith takes us across America to show how seismic changes, sparked by a sequence of landmark political and economic decisions, have transformed America. As only a veteran reporter can, Smith fits the puzzle together, starting with Lewis Powell’s provocative memo that triggered a political rebellion that dramatically altered the landscape of power in Washington from then until today.

This is a book full of surprises and revelations—the accidental beginnings of the 401(k) plan, with disastrous economic consequences for many; the major policy changes that began under Jimmy Carter; how the New Economy disrupted America’s engine of shared prosperity, the “virtuous circle” of growth; and how America lost the title of “Land of Opportunity.” Smith documents the transfer of $6 trillion in middle-class wealth from home-owners to banks even before the housing boom went bust, and how the U.S. policy tilt favoring the rich is stunting America’s economic growth.

This book is essential reading for all of us who want to understand America today, or why average Americans are struggling to keep afloat. Smith reveals how pivotal laws and policies were altered while the public wasn’t looking, how Congress often ignores public opinion, why moderate politicians got shoved to the sidelines, and how Wall Street often wins politically by hiring over 1,400 former government officials as lobbyists.

Smith talks to a wide range of people, telling the stories of Americans high and low. From political leaders such as Bill Clinton, Newt Gingrich, and Martin Luther King, Jr., to CEOs such as Al Dunlap, Bob Galvin, and Andy Grove, to heartland Middle Americans such as airline mechanic Pat O’Neill, software systems manager Kristine Serrano, small businessman John Terboss, and subcontractor Eliseo Guardado, Smith puts a human face on how middle-class America and the American Dream have been undermined.

This magnificent work of history and reportage is filled with the penetrating insights, provocative discoveries, and great empathy of a master journalist. Finally, Smith offers ideas for restoring America’s great promise and reclaiming the American Dream.


“History often has hidden beginnings. There is no blinding flash of light in the sky to mark a turning point, no distinctive mushroom cloud signifying an atomic explosion that will forever alter human destiny. Often a watershed is crossed in some gradual and obscure way so that most people do not realize that an unseen shift has moved them into a new era, reshaping their lives, the lives of their generation, and the lives of their children, too. Only decades later do historians, like detectives, sift through the confusing strands of the past and discover a hitherto unknown pregnant beginning.”

Read the rest of the prologue here


“…one heck of a story told by one of the great journalists of our time.”
—Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post

“Hedrick Smith has done it again! Who Stole the American Dream? provides a readable and comprehensive account of how Americans have been robbed of our dream of a broad middle class over the past forty years. It is essential reading.”
—Jay Lorsch, Harvard Business School

“[Smith’s] account is informed by the lively eye and ear of a journalist, as when he details for example the cascading impact of the 95th Congress in 1978. That session is one he says many political analysts overlook despite being ‘one of the most pivotal in our modern political history.’ Influenced by the rising power of big business lobbying, it was the 95th Congress, Smith says, that made seminal changes in the economy’s structure…”
Chicago Tribune

“Here now is the terrible story of how the so-called New Economy destroyed the many credos and practices that once pushed and prodded the American way of life. Hedrick Smith gives names, dates and actions behind the transformation from a corporate and financial culture driven by shared wealth to one of CEO/ownership greed. Read it and weep with profound sadness and then scream with red-faced anger. It seems almost too tame to call it simply a book. It is an indictment that is as stinging, stunning and important as any ever handed down by a grand jury.”
—Jim Lehrer, longtime PBS NewsHour anchor

“Remarkably comprehensive and coherent analysis of and prescriptions for America’s contemporary economic malaise… Fascinating detail…Brilliant analysis… one of the best recent analyses of the contemporary woes of American economics and politics.”
Kirkus Reviews


Hedrick Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning former New York Times reporter and editor and Emmy award-winning producer/correspondent, has established himself over the past 50 years of his career as one of America’s most distinguished journalists.


Looking for promotional materials for the book? Here is a zip file that includes Hedrick’s headshot, bio, a short book summary and book flap materials.


Monday, May 1, 2017 – Town Hall Seattle, “Aftershocks From the Populist Earthquake of 2016,” public lecture, 7:30 pm.

Friday, June 2, 2017 – Annual meeting of New Hampshire Open Democracy, speech, 5:00-7:00 pm