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Americans on a Financial ‘Tightrope’

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In “Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope,” the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof and the journalist Sheryl WuDunn, who is also Kristof’s wife, offer a litany of individual stories from across the country that cut across race, ethnicity and geography but share a theme of economic misfortune in a nation plenty rich enough to help if it cared to. Earlier this week, Kristof and WuDunn discussed the book with the Times critic Jennifer Szalai, and we share some of the conversation on this week’s podcast. “There is something of a great social depression happening across the country,” Kristof says. “Even in the Great Depression, life expectancy didn’t fall the way it is now. It’s fallen three years in a row in the U.S. And it seemed to us that this wasn’t getting adequate attention.”


Daniel Susskind visits the podcast this week to discuss his new book, “A World Without Work: Technology, Automation, and How We Should Respond.” “Technology doesn’t just affect the number of jobs, but it also affects the quality of those jobs — the pay of those jobs, their status, their security,” Susskind says. “One of the things I’m trying to argue in the book is that this focus on unemployment, this focus on the number of jobs alone, can sometimes give us quite a misleading insight about what technology is actually doing to the world of work.”

Also on this week’s episode, Alexandra Alter has news from the publishing world; and Dwight Garner, Parul Sehgal and Jennifer Szalai talk about the books they’ve recently reviewed. Pamela Paul is the host.

Here are the books discussed by The Times’s critics this week:

We would love to hear your thoughts about this episode, and about the Book Review’s podcast in general. You can send them to books@nytimes.com.

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