• Things Are Never So Bad That They Can't Get Worse

  • Inside the Collapse of Venezuela
  • By: William Neuman
  • Narrated by: Michael Manuel
  • Length: 11 hrs and 46 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (44 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A nuanced and deeply reported account of the collapse of Venezuela and what it could mean for the rest of the world.

Today, Venezuela is a country of perpetual crisis - a country of rolling blackouts, nearly worthless currency, uncertain supply of water and food, and extreme poverty. In the same land where oil - the largest reserve in the world - sits so close to the surface that it bubbles from the ground, where gold and other mineral resources are abundant, and where the government spends billions of dollars on public works projects that go abandoned, the supermarket shelves are bare, and the hospitals have no medicine. Ten percent of the population has fled, creating the largest refugee exodus in the hemisphere, rivaling only war-torn Libya’s crisis. Venezuela’s collapse affects all of Latin America, as well as the United States and the international community.

Republicans like to point to Venezuela as the perfect example of the emptiness of socialism, but it is a better model for something else: the destructive potential of charismatic populist leadership. Hugo Chavez’s ascent was a precursor to the emergence of strongmen that can now be seen all over the world, and the success of the corrupt economy he established only lasted while oil sold for $120 a barrel.

Things Are Never So Bad That They Can’t Get Worse is a fluid combination of journalism, memoir, and history that chronicles Venezuela’s tragic journey from petro-riches to poverty. Author William Neuman witnessed it all firsthand while living in Caracas and serving as the New York Times Andes region bureau chief. His book paints a clear-eyed, riveting, and highly personal portrait of the crisis unfolding in real time, with all of its tropical surrealism, extremes of wealth and suffering, and gripping drama. It is also a heartfelt reflection of the country’s great beauty and vibrancy - and the energy, passion, and humor of its people, even under the most challenging circumstances.

©2022 William Neuman (P)2022 Macmillan Audio

What listeners say about Things Are Never So Bad That They Can't Get Worse

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  • Overall
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Excellent. A must read

Great book. Well researched. Narrator was good. Good warning of what happens when you elect a moron as leader. MAGA people should take heed.

1 person found this helpful

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Populism disguised as Socialism

Compared to my personal experiences in Venezuela in the 90's, this was a very accurate and intimate description of the mood among the people. Neuman gets all of the little details correct. "It's Bever so Bad" is a masterclass on Geopolitics, macro economics, greed and the dangers of mixing Populist and Socialist ideologies. A dire warning and reminder of the fragility of society for the U.S. and elsewhere. 5/5 stars

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Incredible

From beginning to end, this book is totally captivating. Incredibly researched, this historical education of Venezuela is rich with story telling through human experiences. Tragic and difficult to read at times but extremely important. Don’t look away.

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  • 03-15-22

Great book! Very interesting and informative!

Great book! Very interesting and informative. I love the timeline and appreciate all of the explanations.

1 person found this helpful

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"Reality is not an obstruction to their faith"

Paints a good picture of the how's and why's of the Venezuela tragedy. Such a waste that one man or small faction can have such devastating effects.

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Profound storytelling, anti-conservative bias

The descriptions of how dramatically life has changed for ordinary Venezuelans is a poignant warning about creeping totalitarianism. It’s a surprisingly honest on-the-scene account from a New York Times journalist in that respect. The chapters on the blackouts and the neglect of the grid that led to them are phenomenal. But Neuman's bias becomes evident, and eventually strains comprehension. It starts with criticism of Trump's stumbling efforts to exert pressure after decades of shoulder-shrugging. That is somehow spun into an unlikely narrative about how the horrific collapse of the economy and society actually culminates in the Republican ideal of having no government or public services. Then comes the feeble and predictable "it's not REALLY socialism" trope. Yeah, it never is.

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Socialist or Criminal?

William Neuman analyzes the Chavez socialist conversion of Venezuela and finds just plain criminal raping of the country by thieves claiming to be socialists. This is a worthwhile evaluation. That’s the story. Somehow, Neuman’s personal liberal bias would not let him leave it at that. He spends about a third of the book blaming the continuing Venezuelan demise on Trump! If you can ignore the anti-Trump blather, his story of a failed country is worth hearing.

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Life in Venezuela

It’s a good book I enjoyed the story covers what’s life is like in Venezuela under an authoritarian leader in the day-to-day struggles that go on. You can be rich in oil but sometimes that can be a curse from still exist there and probably will for a while.

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A very informative insight on Venezuela

The book is a very sad reality 😢 of Venezuela
there's is a couple of biased opinions and comments but they are in mi opinión only 3 to 5 percent of the book outside of that super great information of the situation of this Latin American country as a hispanic man myself my heart goes out to all Venezuelans that are living through that horrible situation

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Worth the listen, interesting insights.

I learned a lot during the listen of this book. I'm glad accounts like this exist.

You can tell which way the authors political bias leans. Some of his political assertions seemed rather uncalled for, however I came to respect his views.

In the performance, the narrator's poor Spanish accent made some parts a bit distracting. A better bilingual narrator would further strengthen the important message and story of this book.