One Market Under God

(2000)
Here is the story of the “New Economy” boom of the 1990s, recapturing all its signature idiocies and the way they reverberated through the nation’s thought-sphere. Did American leaders really compare corporations to God? Yes, they did. Did they really claim that the stock market was the great friend of the common man? Yes again. That management theorists were revolutionaries? That entrepreneurs lived and breathed coolness? That CEOs were beings of sacred, childlike innocence? That the humblest among us were the best-positioned to profit from the rising Dow Jones Industrial Average? That the Dow itself would soon hit 36,000? Alas: yes, yes, and yes.

As with the bull market of the 1920s, the theme of the New Economy mania was economic democracy—a nirvana of prosperity and equality that we had achieved just by letting capitalism do its thing.

One Market Under God appeared just as the “New Economy” bubble burst. In the New York Observer in July of 2000, Nicholas von Hoffman quoted at length from the book and wrote that “Mr. Frank has made his determined way through lakes of sludge to ridicule, shred, mock, and expose the latter-day propagandists of business globalism, the pump-and-jump artists and the whorish hacks preaching New Age economics and New Order authoritarianism. . . .” In the same issue of the same paper, the columnist Ron Rosenbaum compared the book to the work of a well-known rock star; his headline declared “Tom Petty and Tom Frank: Two Geniuses of Pop Culture.”

Kirkus Reviews put an illustration of the book’s argument on its cover. Advertising Age ran an interview with me and a 3-page excerpt. The New York Times profiled me on page one of its “Business Day” section.

Naomi Klein hailed “one of America’s most scathing cultural critics” as I went about debunking “the mass-marketing of the market.” Kevin Mattson announced that “Thomas Frank might just be this generation’s Thorstein Veblen.” Molly Ivins wrote that she hadn’t “had so much fun reading a book since I was 12 and found the Three Musketeers. . . . This is a ring-tailed tooter. . . it contains some of the most savagely funny cultural criticism I have ever come across.”

In the UK, onetime Margaret Thatcher confidante John Gray described the book as a “passionate, bracingly irreverent and always hugely readable lexicon of the political cant of the past decade.” The subtitle of a review in the Finanical Times put it simply: “The book that foretold the dotcom crash is an indispensable guide to the excesses of the 1990s.”

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