Failure and Forgiveness

Rebalancing the Bankruptcy System

As record numbers of bankruptcy cases cause concern that more and more debtors are shirking their responsibilities, Gross offers a new perspective on the problem. In this important book, she provides an accessible introduction to and evaluation of the federal bankruptcy system; places legal issues of bankruptcy in their social context; explores the often conflicting interests of those involved; and suggests an innovative and humanitarian approach to bankruptcy.

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Books on bankruptcy are always in high demand at any public library, but most of them are of the do-it-yourself variety, consisting of sample forms and simple language. Although Gross offers a more thoughtful look at the bankruptcy system, her book will still appeal to the layperson. The last major change in the federal bankruptcy code was in 1979, and Gross, a law professor at the New York Law School, clearly lays out her recommendations for change. She begins with an explanation and justification of the theory behind bankruptcy and then looks at the effects of bankruptcy on debtors, creditors, and the community. Gross argues for compassion, rehabilitation, and forgiveness; but she distinguishes between debtors who “encounter an unforeseen calamity” and those who “intentionally stiff their creditors.” She also distinguishes creditors into categories and proposes that not all claims need to be treated equally. Finally, she makes a strong case for including “the community interest” in any consideration of bankruptcy. – David Rouse

This book is possibly the most accesible law book that I have ever come upon. It is not only appealing to those in the legal profession, but to those who are not. Professor Gross’s insights and conclusions are refreshing to read in the face of our Nations ubsession with casting the debtor as a lazy peron who overlooked his or her duties. I recently saw Professor Gross on CNN and after hearing her speak, I immediatly went and picked up a copy for myself. I would solemly recommend this book to anyone interested or involved in the bankruptcy system. – Josh Brown