America is now actually Two Americas, separated by a chasm of opportunity and wealth, says Hedrick Smith, best-selling author and winner of the Pulitzer Prize and Emmy awards.

The reason, he says: A series of political and economic policy choices conducted in secrecy and running counter to public opinion.

Smith has uncovered and assembled the pieces of the puzzle that led to this national catastrophe. He will discuss them – and his recommendations for change – in “Reclaiming the American Dream,” the opening lecture in the 2014-2015 New Topics New College discussion series, on Thursday, Oct. 30.

Smith is a former New York Times reporter and editor and producer and correspondent for PBS. He explored the unraveling of America’s middle class and the rise of partisanship in his most recent book, “Who Stole the American Dream?”

The book has been widely praised. Jay Lorsch, professor at the Harvard Business School, said it “provides a readable and comprehensive account of how Americans have been robbed of our dream of a broad middle class over the past forty years. It is essential reading.”

PBS newscaster Jim Lehrer said “Hedrick Smith gives names, dates and actions behind the transformation from a corporate and financial culture driven by shared wealth to one of CEO/ownership greed. Read it and weep with profound sadness and then scream with red-faced anger. It seems almost too tame to call it simply a book. It is an indictment that is as stinging, stunning and important as any ever handed down by a grand jury.”

The book draws on ideologically diverse sources, from conservatives like broadcaster Rush Limbaugh and sociologist Charles Murray to liberals including AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka and economist Alan Krueger, all in support of Smith’s theme of the demise of the middle class as a root cause of the nation’s struggles.

Smith will discuss that topic and other highlights of his 50 years in journalism, from coverage of the civil rights struggle and the Vietnam War to the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union.

The talk is at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 30,  in the in the Mildred Sainer Pavilion on New College’s Caples Campus, 5313 Bay Shore Road (immediately south of the Ringling Museum). A question-and-answer session and reception will follow the talk.

Tickets are $20 for the individual talk or $100 for the entire six-program New Topics series, which is sponsored by New College of Florida and the New College Foundation and brings nationally-known experts to Sarasota for lectures on timely topics. Admission is free for New College faculty, staff and students but reservations are required.

For reservations and information, call the New College Events Hotline at 487-4888 or visit More information is available at

Media sponsors for the season are the Herald-Tribune Media Group and WEDU-TV. Corporate sponsors are Courtyard by Marriott Hotels and Treviso restaurant.

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