Nick McDonell, "Quiet Street"
Rearing of the Ruling Class:
An Evening with Nick McDonell
Nick McDonell grew up on New York City’s Upper East Side, a neighborhood defined by its wealth and influence. As a child, McDonell enjoyed everything that rarefied world entailed—sailing lessons in the Hamptons, school galas at the Met, and holiday trips on private jets. But as an adult, he left it behind to become a foreign correspondent in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Quiet Street, McDonell returns to the sidewalks of his youth, exhuming with bracing honesty his upbringing and those of his affluent peers. From Galápagos Island cruises and Tanzanian safaris to steely handshakes and schoolyard microaggressions to fox-hunting rituals and the courtship rites of sexually precocious tweens, McDonell examines the rearing of the ruling class in scalpel-sharp detail, documenting how wealth and power are hoarded, encoded, and passed down from one generation to the next. What’s more, he demonstrates how outsiders—the poor, the nonwhite, the suburban—are kept out.
Searing and precise yet ultimately full of compassion, Quiet Street examines the problem of America’s one percent, whose vision of a more just world never materializes. Who are these people? How do they cling to power? What would it take for them to share it? Quiet Street looks for answers in a universal experience: coming to terms with the culture that made you.
NICK McDONELL is the author of the novels Twelve, The Third Brother, An Expensive Education, and The Council of Animals, as well as a work of political theory, The Civilization of Perpetual Movement, and four books of reportage on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including The Bodies in Person. He has contributed reporting and essays to Harper’s Magazine, London Review of Books, Libération, The Paris Review, newyorker.com, and TIME, among other publications. His work has been published in twenty-three countries and appeared on best-seller lists around the world.