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Book Launch

Book Launch | Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics

09/22 Friday | 1pm

NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge and the OIKOS Working Group invite you to join us for a book launch of Kim Phillips-Fein’s new book Fear City: New York’s Fiscal Crisis and the Rise of Austerity Politics, out now from Metropolitan Books. The author will be present in conversation with Ida Susser.

When the news broke in 1975 that New York City was on the brink of fiscal collapse, few believed it was possible: how could the capital of the financial world go bankrupt? And yet the city was billions of dollars in the red. Bankers and politicians alike seized upon the situation as evidence that New York’s famous social liberalism was doomed to failure–and promised apocalyptic scenarios if the city didn’t fire thousands of workers, freeze wages, and slash social services.

In this vivid, gripping account, historian Kim Phillips-Fein tells the remarkable story of the crisis that engulfed the city, transforming the largest metropolis in the United States and reshaping ideas about government throughout the country. In doing so, she brings to life a radically different New York, the legendarily decrepit city of the 1970s. Drawing on never-before-used archival sources as well as interviews with key players in the crisis, Phillips-Fein guides us through the hairpin turns and sudden reversals that brought New York City to the edge of bankruptcy–and kept it from going over.

At once a sweeping history of some of the most tumultuous times in the city’s past, a colorful portrait of the unwieldy mechanics of municipal government, and an origin story of the politics of austerity, Fear City is essential reading for anyone seeking to understand the resurgent fiscal conservatism of today.

Kim Phillips-Fein is a historian teaching 20th-century American history at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study at New York University. She has written about twentieth-century political history, the rise of conservatism, the history of free-market economic ideas, and the history of unions and of critics of capitalism. Her work has been published in journals ranging from the Journal of American History to The Nation, The Baffler and Bookforum.

Ida Susser is Professor of Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center and adjunct professor of Socio-Medical Sciences at the HIV Center, Columbia University. Her books include The Castells Reader on the Cities and Social Theory (Blackwell, 2001), and Cultural Diversity in the United States (Blackwell, 2001). She received an award for Distinguished Achievement in the Critical Study of North America from the Society for the Anthropology of North America, has served as President of the American Ethnological Society(2005-7), and is a founding member of Athena: Advancing Gender Equity and Human Rights in the Global Response to HIV/AIDS.

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