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Summary

National best seller

What would actually make America great: more people.

If the most challenging crisis in living memory has shown us anything, it’s that America has lost the will and the means to lead. We can’t compete with the huge population clusters of the global marketplace by keeping our population static or letting it diminish, or with our crumbling transit and unaffordable housing. The winner in the future world is going to have more - more ideas, more ambition, more utilization of resources, more people.

Exactly how many Americans do we need to win? According to Matthew Yglesias, one billion.

From one of our foremost policy writers, One Billion Americans is the provocative yet logical argument that if we aren’t moving forward, we’re losing. Vox founder Yglesias invites us to think bigger, while taking the problems of decline seriously. What really contributes to national prosperity should not be controversial: supporting parents and children, welcoming immigrants and their contributions, and exploring creative policies that support growth - like more housing, better transportation, improved education, revitalized welfare, and climate change mitigation. Drawing on examples and solutions from around the world, Yglesias shows not only that we can do this, but why we must.

Making the case for massive population growth with analytic rigor and imagination, One Billion Americans issues a radical but undeniable challenge: Why not do it all and stay on top forever?

©2020 Matthew Yglesias (P)2020 Penguin Audio

What listeners say about One Billion Americans

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Fantastique

I excitedly awaited the release and it did not disappoint. Very good breadth. I do wish he would have addressed other environmental issues beyond Climate change, including broader habitat encroachment issues than those just posed by grazing, the die off in insects and pollinators, and the regional inequity in water availability.

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Great national revivalist book

This book does a great job in providing policy ideas to ensure future American greatness. Some of the ideas are a little esoteric but there are also some sensible seeming ones. How good the ideas are is difficult to say but the book is entertaining.

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  • Andrew
  • 16-09-20

Novelty and Vision

One Billion Americans makes an affirmative and expansive case for radically expanding the remit of America. Frankly it was refreshing to read a book that actually has something to say rather than another book just explaining how dumb and broken our current system is. That said, I don't agree with every point in the book but that is as it should be. There a bunch of BS feel-good books out there that can repeat orthodoxy or explain the current system if that is what you want. What I want is a book with some guts and ideas. While I was waiting for my audio preorder which was released after the physical book I saw a lot of bashing of this book and harsh reviews. After reading it myself I understand the criticism though I mostly find it overblown. The bottom line is this is a book that presented interesting new ideas and perspective. You can disagree with it but at least it is not a milquetoast political memoir, insider story, or explainer of our current system focused on the past. Matt is right about this, it is better to think big than wallow in the myriad failing of our current system. If you are stuck thinking about the world as it is, how can you ever expect to create the world as it should be?

7 people found this helpful

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  • Tommy Adelson
  • 17-09-20

FINALLY SOME BIG IDEAS

Fantastic book. Extremely readable, digestible, and enormously enlightening. Even if you disagree, these are great points for getting our country back on track.

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  • K. Long
  • 15-09-20

Bold ideas, well presented

Matt provides a lot of interesting ideas, in a framework premised on main stream ideas like America should strive to maintain its position in the world. If you enjoy Matt's contributions on Vox podcasts, you will greatly enjoy this audiobook.

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  • S. Ellerd
  • 28-09-20

Good Premise, NOT Non-Partisan

I really like this concept. Absolutely support massive legal immigration and a better immigration process. That being said, this book is definitely NOT non-partisan. when describing conservatives, he misrepresents the Conservative position and calls conservatives "far-right" and "right-wing". But when speaking about Liberals, he calls them liberals and progressives. He doesn't use the same inflammatory terminology. He doesn't repeatedly call them left-wing or far left. Specifically in Chapter 5 he repeats this terminology over and over. I would've been been much more on board if he would've been truly non-partisan. Otherwise, it's an excellent concept.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 17-09-20

Like the Weeds but with less cynicism.

I enjoyed listening. Didn't understand everything. Sometimes got lost in the minute, but overarching theme connected well. Not gonna lie the audio definitely didn't have the call to action resonate well with me.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 08-01-21

Interesting and thought provoking.

I really enjoyed this read- it definitely makes you think about not only the premise of the title, but the reality in which we currently live. My only critique is that the book ended a little bit inconclusively, maybe abruptly. I was expecting some sort of summary, and next thing I knew the credits were rolling. Regardless, highly recommend!

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  • Lauren C.
  • 02-01-21

Well done

I liked this significantly more than I though I would. Interesting arguments and strong analysis.

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  • Vince A. Jensen
  • 30-12-20

The most hope-filled book I read this year.

The most hope filled book I read this year. A nice way to end 2020.

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  • Johnathan Robinson
  • 23-12-20

A Good Start to a Larger Discussion

I’ve only recently become a fan of Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein during 2020. They quickly became my favorite podcasters because I felt they did a great job of bringing nuance and context to interesting topics. So when Matt was pitching around his book on the Vox podcasts, I was genuinely excited. And while it is a good read, it still feels like it’s only scratching the surfaces of a lot of topics. For example, on Joe Rogan’s podcast, he really drilled Matt about the issues that would arise with farming. At first, I thought it was just Rogan needlessly drilling Matt on a topic that he himself is more interested then the subject of the book. That said, having listened to his chapter on the topic of farming, Matt does seem to gloss over a lot of issues that could arise such as the loss of foreign buyers of our own resources which comes with extra taxes, etc. THAT SAID.... it still was an inspiring topic and I would recommend to anyone to listen to it. I just wish it was longer and he could really dive into making something like this work rather then a mere thought experiment.

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  • More4Him
  • 22-12-20

Basic Premise Good but too much liberal tripe

The author’s basic premise is good but he goes down too many liberal/progressive rabbit trails that are not pertinent. I felt like I was listening to Al Gore half of the time with the rabid climate change rhetoric which I think is only tangentially related. I also think that the author’s advocacy for more welfare is a huge mistake since you will get the wrong kind of growth. If we simply expand child tax credits and incentivize work then people would naturally have more children. The author is correct that the cost of raising children is the biggest reason that the US population will soon start to decline with devastating economic impact.