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From the author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Devil’s Bargain comes the revelatory inside story of how economic populists led by Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez transformed the Democratic Party—and remade the country.
In his classic book Devil’s Bargain, Joshua Green chronicled how Steve Bannon and Donald Trump led a right-wing populist uprising that produced the biggest upset in U.S. presidential history. In The Rebels, he gives an epic account of the parallel struggle that has played out on the left since the global financial collapse of 2008. Green tracks the rise of economic populism in the Democratic Party through the interwoven stories of three outsiders who emerged in the wake of the crash to lead the charge, driving changes on the left that have proven, improbably, every bit as profound as those that Trump has driven on the right. Based on more than a decade of deep reporting in Washington and on Wall Street, and brimming with razor-sharp analysis, The Rebels is a sweeping historical narrative of how Democrats’ failure to shield working people from the effects of the crash ignited a revolution from within that is rapidly transforming America.
The embers of this revolution trace back to the waning days of Jimmy Carter’s presidency, when Democrats desperate to contain the economic turmoil of the 1970s first struck an alliance with Wall Street. Green recounts how the Reagan era and the costly imperatives of modern campaigning deepened this embrace, altering the Democratic Party’s traditional identity as the champion of labor and the middle class. A neoliberal faith took hold in the 1980s and 1990s that relying on market forces, rather than on government, was the surest way to achieve Democratic goals. The booming economy Bill Clinton presided over hastened the push to deregulate the financial system and silence critics on the left, even as inequality ballooned and maintaining a middle-class life became ever more difficult and precarious.
The 2008 financial crisis fractured American society, as populist movements erupted on the right and left, from the Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street. This powerful discontent manifested itself in the rise of Trump. Among Democrats, it revived a long-dormant strain of economic populism that challenged neoliberal orthodoxy and turned this book’s protagonists into national icons. The Rebels tells the riveting story of the insurgency that Warren, Sanders, and Ocasio-Cortez led against their own party’s establishment, a clash that culminated in the 2020 presidential primaries. Although Sanders and Warren fell short of the White House, Joe Biden has become the unlikely champion of their vision. As America races toward the most consequential election of our lifetime, the future of the party—and of the country—hinges on whether this political revolution can return Democrats to the White House. 
A masterful account of one of our era’s defining political sagas, The Rebels cements Joshua Green’s place in the first rank of American writers.
Publication Date: 
January 9, 2024
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