Empathy Economics: Janet Yellen's Remarkable Rise to Power and Her Drive to Spread Prosperity to All

Janet Yellen is a fascinating figure: not only is she the first woman to hold several key U.S. financial positions, including Treasury secretary, but her approach to high-level economics consistently aims to benefit ordinary citizens. Journalist Owen Ullmann's second book, Empathy Economics, is a thorough, well-researched biography of Yellen's life and career, and also a crash course in the workings of the U.S. financial system.

Ullmann begins with (and repeatedly returns to) Yellen's early life in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. The daughter of an affluent doctor, she did not lack for basic necessities, but saw her father's patients struggle to pay him for vital medical care. Those inequalities, and her father's consistent compassion for patients of different income levels, had a deep impact on Yellen and shaped her into an economist who has always cared about Main Street as well as Wall Street.

At every turn, Ullman's sources portray Yellen as compassionate, thoughtful, fiercely intelligent but modest, and always the most prepared person in the room. Ullmann ably explores Yellen's career in economics in the political and social context of the last several decades, including the financial crisis of 2008 and the following Great Recession. He leads readers through a sometimes confusing maze of financial policy, including governing bodies and regulations, explaining abstract concepts in clear language (as Yellen is famous for doing). Readers will emerge with a greater understanding of not only Yellen herself, but the system which she has worked for many years to improve--and a deep appreciation of the empathy that informs her policy work and her entire life. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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