If print books talked, one could say Adrift: America in 100 Charts screamed check me out on my last trip to the library. The 2022 Scott Galloway release captured my interest from the start. His opening preface is a mantra. “Life isn’t what happens to you, but how you react to what happens to you. Nations prosper or perish based on how they respond to crises.” (Adrift, p.1)
I couldn’t agree more. And I think this holds true on both a personal level as well as the collective. The preface rang so loud that I began recommending the book before many pages were turned. Now that I have completed the text, my sentiment has increased ten-fold.
In recent years, I have complained on this site of division among the American population. Galloway has charts for this. Many charts putting a number to my observations. For example, Political Divides Become Social Divides compares views on a child marrying someone not affiliated with the same political party.
The chart contrasts 1960 with 2018. In the earlier time period both parties registered a concern of 4%. However, 2018 shows a significant change. Thirty-five percent of Republicans now cite a differing party as a concern with a potential in-law. Even more surprising to this reader was the Democrats opposed marriages across party lines by 45%. (Adrift, pps. 148-149)
But this is just one instance of division. Trust, or lack thereof, in government is yet another chart. As is pay inequity.
Perhaps the most thought-provoking information is tied to climate change. Galloway’s chart on page 32 contrasts media coverage of billionaire Bezos for the month of July 2021 with mentions of the climate crisis in all of 2020. 212 Minutes to 267…but don’t forget to divide the latter number by 12 for an apples-to-apples comparison. This yields a ratio of 212 to 22. How is a billionaire going into space more important than our environment?
Media drives what we see, and social media thrives on dissension. Galloway uses the charts in Adrift to make this point. And many other observations from marriage rates to the decline of immigration and innovation.
Even though many of the charts reflect negative trends across a wide swath of topics, Galloway offsets the doom and gloom. His narrative is more positive-with caveats. Adrift is a wake-up call both nationally and globally. But the emphasis is on the United States of America.
Recommendation for Adrift: America in 100 Charts
Adrift is the best non-fiction I have read in months. Public libraries, including high school libraries should each have a copy. Furthermore, this book is excellent for gift giving.
The author makes a few points I don’t agree with. For example, even though nuclear energy has a lower death rate than other fuel sources, I believe there are other problems (such as long-very long, lasting contamination) associated with this industry. So, the chart on page 241 did not sway me.
Perhaps I liked this book so much because the graphics rang true with most of my thinking. Young males are particularly adrift and a risk to society. So, I agree with the posited solution of national service. Furthermore, I always prefer books proffering solutions. Galloway finishes the book with sections entitled Future Possibilities and What We Must Do. Complaints and concerns accompanied by solutions appeal to me. Adrift: America in 100 Charts is worth the time spent reading. And then some.