We are all shocked by the mass killings in Newtown, Conn. Many good and necessary ideas have been put forth to reduce the risk of the recurrence of such episodes. Yet there is a book that, to my knowledge, has not been mentioned for its exceptionally pertinent thinking on the causes of such tragedies. It is worth reading.

The Spirit Level is by two British authors, Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett ($18 in paperback at www.equalitytrust.org.uk). It has a forward by former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich. Bill Moyers recommends it.

The Spirit Level is an exhaustive review of sociological, psychological, and economic studies covering many countries including our own. It concludes that inequality is the main culprit that tears societies apart.

As its cover says: “How almost every measure of well-being from life expectancy to mental illness, violence to illiteracy is affected less by how wealthy a society is than by how unequal it is.”

Our country winds up at the bottom of almost all of the measures of well-being, and this affects both rich and poor. This book also offers ways out of our national nightmare.

Patrick Dooley
Oak Park

Join the discussion on social media!