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The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Livesby Sasha Abramsky
Synopses & Reviews
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Fifty years after Michael Harrington published his groundbreaking book The Other America, in which he chronicled the lives of people excluded from the Age of Affluence, poverty in America is back with a vengeance. It is made up of both the long-term chronically poor and new working poor—the tens of millions of victims of a broken economy and an ever more dysfunctional political system. In many ways, for the majority of Americans, financial insecurity has become the new norm.
The American Way of Poverty shines a light on this travesty. Sasha Abramsky brings the effects of economic inequality out of the shadows and, ultimately, suggests ways for moving toward a fairer and more equitable social contract. Exploring everything from housing policy to wage protections and affordable higher education, Abramsky lays out a panoramic blueprint for a reinvigorated political process that, in turn, will pave the way for a renewed War on Poverty.
It is, Harrington believed, a moral outrage that in a country as wealthy as America, so many people could be so poor. Written in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse, in an era of grotesque economic extremes, The American Way of Poverty brings that same powerful indignation to the topic.
"Destitution, squalor, loneliness, and despair are the distinctive features of lower-class America in this searing exposÃ©. Recalling Michael Harrington's The Other America, journalist Abramsky (Inside Obama's Brain) meets and profiles an extraordinary range of people and predicaments: indigent retirees at food pantries; Mexican migrant laborers in desert shantytowns; a middle-class professional woman reduced to prostitution after a spell of unemployment; low-wage workers unable to make ends meet and forced into a daily 'Ã¢Â€Â˜eat or heat'' dilemma. He shows us the persistence of brute hunger, homelessness, and deprivation, but also sensitively probes the psychic wounds — of being too poor to sustain friendships and social life, of feeling like a worthless cast-off in a society that worships wealth. The author sharply critiques the skimpy benefits and humiliating regulations of current welfare programs and lambastes conservatives who want to further shred the safety net. His prescription for a 'Robin Hood' program — a laundry list of new entitlements, minimum-wage hikes, public works, and the like — lacks focus, but has the inestimable virtue of throwing money at people who sorely need it. Abramsky's is a challenging indictment of an economy in which poverty and inequality at the bottom seem like the foundation for prosperity at the top. Photos. Agent: Jim Levine, Levine Greenberg Agency. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Abramsky shows how poverty - a massive political scandal - is dramatically changing in the wake of the Great Recession.
About the Author
Sasha Abramsky is a freelance journalist and a part-time lecturer at the University of California at Davis. His work has appeared in the Nation, The Atlantic Monthly, New York magazine, The Village Voice, and Rolling Stone. Originally from England and a graduate of Oxford University, he has since adopted his mothers homeland of America and now lives in Sacramento, CA with his wife, daughter and son. He has a masters degree from Columbia University School of Journalism. In 2000 he was awarded a Soros Society, Crime, and Communities Media Fellowship, and he is currently a Senior Fellow at the New York City-based Demos think tank.
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