Picks and Pans Review: Boiling Point: Democrats, Republicans and the Decline of Middle-Class Prosperity

updated 04/19/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/19/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

by Kevin Phillips

Phillips is the astute political analyst who presciently identified the end of the Democratic Party's hold on presidential power in his 1969 book, The Emerging Republican Majority. (His research earned him a position as Richard Nixon's unofficial trend spotter.) In 1990's The Politics of Rich and Poor, Phillips again proved prescient in warning that the complacent Republicans were likely to run afoul of middle-class discontent—a gutsy prediction at a time when President Bush was considered unbeatable.

This new book further documents how far "charcoal grill and lawn mower America" has fallen from prosperity. In the 1980s the value of a house actually declined in some suburban areas, decimating the average family's largest nest egg. Urban troubles began to visit the suburbs, and the cities continued to decay. Bill Clinton and Ross Perot did not ignore the warning signals, but Phillips makes it clear that Clinton will fail if he does not deliver on his promise to better the lives of "those who do the work, pay the taxes and play by the rules."

Unfortunately, for all its cogent reasoning and statistical backing, Boiling Point breaks no new ground and is more remarkable for the author's unrelenting I-told-you-so style. Phillips seems particularly reluctant to take a stand on whether real class warfare will ever come to pass. If there is any optimism here, it's in the implication that America—like many of its troubled banks and corporations—is simply too big to fail. (Random House, $23)

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