Edoardo Nesi, Guido Maria Brera translated from the Italian by Antony Shugaar

Everything Is Broken Up and Dances

The Crushing of the Middle Class

Publication Date: Mar 27, 2018

208 pp


List Price US $9.99
ISBN: 978-1-59051-932-5


List Price US $18.95
Trim Size (H x W): 5 x 7.5
ISBN: 978-1-59051-931-8

A clear, engaging dialogue that explains how the role of economics and finance in the West has shifted in the twenty-first century.

Just a handful of years into the new millennium, globalization has had a profound impact on economies and societies throughout Europe and America. In this accessible text, Edoardo Nesi and Guido Maria Brera illustrate the effects of globalization in Italy through the changes that have occurred in their own lives. Nesi was forced to sell the textile company his grandfather founded in the 1930s; Brera became a key figure in European asset management. 

Between Bill Clinton’s remarks at the Lincoln Memorial on December 31, 1999 that closed the “American century,” and Donald Trump’s inaugural address, economics and finance changed from tools for building a healthy society into weapons threatening to destroy the middle class. As nations across the globe risk falling into the hands of demagogues, Everything Is Broken Up and Dances tells the critical story of how we corrupted “the best of all possible worlds”—a world without banking crises, unemployment, terrorism, and populism, where a state defaulting on its debt was unthinkable.

Excerpt from Everything Is Broken Up and Dances

I was born on November 9, 1964 in Prato, an industrial city six miles outside of Florence, and I represent—or perhaps I should say, I once represented—the third generation of textile manufacturers in a family that, before leaping into the great adventure of business, had always lived on little and with little. My great grandfather Adamo, for instance, was a shoemaker.

Our company had started producing blankets in the Thirties and, after the end of the Second World War, it went on to specialize in fabrics for overcoats and jackets, enjoying a degree of success that endured over the years, mirroring the success achieved by thousands and thousands of small companies just like ours, throughout Italy and throughout Europe.

At our finest moment, we had a total of forty employees who, in total defiance of the idea that they were being exploited by what was so often described to them as the demonic machinations of capitalism, took passionate advantage of that mechanism, showing every day that they cared every bit as much about the company as we did, if not perhaps more, and often teaching us lessons in devotion to their work by the examples they set.

It’s a small, true story, 100 percent true, and yet it’s only a fragment of the infinitely greater fresco of the history of a people and a nation that emerged from the war, emancipated itself from poverty, and arrived at the end of the millennium after a long and triumphal march.

“…the narrative is often impassionedly lyrical, both literary and musical in quality, as it proceeds from the unbridled optimism of the late 1990s to the abject hopelessness that the authors blame on globalization in general…The analysis often soars as a work of sociocultural criticism…it shows how hopes so high could be brought so low.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Fueled by alternating narratives from the two writers, Everything Is Broken Up and Dances pulls no punches in dissecting the misery represented in the difference between what was promised and what actually transpired.” —World Literature Today

“That we exchanged one of the world’s crown jewels—the Italian textile industry—for cheap, unimaginative fast fashion is a crime and a tragedy. You’ll believe this more than ever after reading this agonizingly beautiful book on globalization.” —Elizabeth L. Cline, author of Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion

 “If you only do one thing this year—read this book. It will make you laugh, cry, and give you a pretty good perspective on what happened to all of us in the last fifty years. We should all have an Edoardo and Guido in our lives.” —Livia Firth, Founder and Creative Director of Eco-Age Ltd. and Oxfam Global Ambassador

“I absolutely love this book. For anyone searching to better understand our world, this is a roadmap of how we got here and what it means for each and every one of us moving forward. Great wit and chilling insight—could not put it down.” —Andrew Morgan, director of The True Cost

Praise for Story of My People:

“A short memoir of great charm, for all its sadness a pleasure to read…Nesi’s sense of loss will touch hearts much farther afield, wherever the West’s world-class industries have fallen to free trade and the Internet.” —New York Times

“A gracefully nostalgic memoir…Edoardo Nesi has mined his own memories, and thus touches ours.” —Financial Times