Book Review: The Great Reset

The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity
by Richard Florida
ISBN-10: 0061937193
ISBN-13: 978-0061937194

* Easy-to-read writing style that also communicates a lot of information.
* Presents historical information and research that helps give a sense of the big picture and justify the theses of the book.
* Covers a lot of ground and speaks to people's interests.
* Provides a lot of useful insights.
* Stays positive without pulling punches.

* Covers so many broad topics depth is occasionally missing.
* The broadness of topics makes the usefulness of information unpredictable from person to person.

SUMMARY: A must-read book on the future of the global economy after the crash of the late 2000's.

Before I read this book, I hadn't read any of Richard Florida's other works for two reasons.  First, his basic ideas seemed to be ones I pretty much agreed with in general, and secondly I got a lot out of his blog and other writing.  However, come the Great Recession, and seeing a lot changes on the horizon, I felt The Great Reset was definitely worth a read.

The Great Reset is about After the Great Recession.  Florida isn't talking recovery (which I approve of), but instead of the changes that are coming in the wake of the Great Recession.  He looks at how we lived and will live, how we worked and will work, what changes are coming, and what changes will be needed.

If that sounds a bit heavy, the book actually is extremely readable.  You don't need to be an economist or socilogist to get anything out of it, you just need to pay attention.

Florida's basic theory is that economies go through Resets – periods where things break down and re-organize because of system failure and systems that don't keep up with changes.  Our Great Recession, the Great Depression, and the Depression of 1870/Long Depression, are all examples of Resets.  So, by looking at the past, he says, we can get some idea of what we face in the future.

Florida goves over these and other Resets in some detail, pointing out why problems happened, but also how they heradled change, often radical change, in employment, government, and economics.  In many cases he notes the resets, as painful as they are, often lead to new booms and prosperity.  However, one has to be aware of the changes that are coming in order to benefit.

Having establishes his idea of Resets, he then goes and looks at how things changed after these periods.  The rise of industrialization, shifts away from agriculture, changes in industry, etc.  are discussed, and helps bring out his point that these resets mean massive change.  It's actually amazing when one looks back on some 140 years and realizes just how much change has happened.

Finally, having looked at historical Resets, Florida asks what happens after the one we're living through now – and what we have to face.  A quick summary:

* Megaregions are the future – areas like Silicon Valley, Greater Toronto Area, Washington-Baltimore-Boston, etc.  The future, to him, are highly integrated areas – and mostly areas that are already established.
* The future will be more mobility and less cars and homes.  He points out that the enthusiasm for the car-and-house lifestyle isn't sustainable and frankly led to our current problems.
* Careers will become more and more creatively-oriented.
* Public transport, better education, and even job programs will be needed at the federal levels to have society adapt to the Great Reset.  Local, state, and city governments will be the most likely sources of attracting business and local remodeling.
* Don't expect immediate change.  It may take decades for the Reset to happen, and it won't bepleasant for some people.

I can't do justice to the book, but he gives a lot of good ideas and a lot of food for thought.

The book isn't perfect -it's a Big Idea book, so at times it focuses on breadth over depth, though extensive footnotes proice a wealth of reading material.  It's meant to be big picture, so expect at times to find less information than you wanted.

However, that flaw aside, I found it an excellent book.  It's someone trying to communicate the future and what we can learn from the past, and giving you a lot to think about and build on.

I'm putting this book in the must-read category.  It's one of the few sources of information I've seen that gives enough of a big picture of the future you can get some practacal ideas out of it, as well as getting a better sense of how we got into this mess.

However, I won't put it in the must buy category for the simple reason that for some people the book will be a one-time read.  Some may re-read it several times, others are just going to get everything they can in one go.  It depends on who you are (and you probably know where you fit in by reading this review).

So my reccomendation is to read it one way or another: just decide if it'll be out of the library, a book you buy, or a book you buy then give to someone else.

– Steven Savage