Though Shipler does not quite honor his promise to challenge everyone along the political spectrum in an equal manner, he does offer a manifesto in his 11th and final chapter (“Skill and Will”) that ought to be heeded by everyone running for office in 2016 as well as those who will vote and those who should vote (and those whose right to vote should be restored).
For all of the complications and all of the entanglements Shipler describes in his first ten chapters, for him it comes down to three things: skill, will and a holistic approach. Gone are the days (if they ever existed) when we can address a symptom and pretend we’ve found a cure. Hence, the pediatrician in Boston who has a team of lawyers and social workers to support his efforts. Asthma can be treated, yes, but until the housing situation is improved, it will always remain a danger. We can no longer argue either / or. It must be both / and; no one person or party has all of the answers. No good answers will fit neatly into one party’s platform.
Shipler can write. If he spends a little too much time on poetry, it can be forgiven as it pays off in the magnificent final chapter. I agree with the blurb on the cover from The New York Times Book Review. “[E]very American should [this book] and read [it] now.”