Minecraft Adventures B2G1 Free

Special Offers see all

Enter to WIN a $100 Credit

Subscribe to PowellsBooks.news
for a chance to win.
Privacy Policy

Visit our stores

Customer Comments

carlsonh has commented on (1) product.

Poor People by William T. Vollmann
Poor People

carlsonh, February 29, 2008

I found William Vollman to be extemely insensitive toward the numerous poor people he "interviewed" in many different countries. These people were the wretched underbelly of each place, most of them illiterate. homeless or nearly so, beggars, prostitutes, addicts, and generally on their last legs.
He paid them a pittance to answer such questions of "why are you poor" and "why are some people rich". Most were flabbergasted at the questions. They were unlikely to have spent time philosophizing about their lives. They were the underbelly of urban life, many of them homeless or nearly so.
Vollman used interpreters, most of whom were openly contemptous toward the poor people he was trying to interview. Some did not even interpret except to say that the interviwee was lying. There seems to no control over the bias in interpreters.There also was the possibility of the poor answering questions in a manner they thought would please the interviewers. They were desperately poor and he was rich, so the imbalance of power is very real.
Vollman states that "Poverty is not political." However, his book demonstrates the devastation falling on people following political decisions that impact most heavily on the poorest of the poor.
I also found that he seemed to have no ethical issues with taking photographs of homeless drunken or sick people lying in the streets or alleys in foul weather. People have the right to dignity no matter how wretched their conditions are. I doubt that he woke them up to pay them.
Overall, I found the book to be exploitive of poor people and I can only wonder if some of the profits will be donated to privide some aid, at least for the wretched children displayed in pictures.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 8 readers found this comment helpful)

  • back to top


Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.