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The Working Poor: Invisible in Americaby David K. Shipler
The Working Poor is a deeply impressive book, a thorough and balanced study of the millions of Americans living at or around the poverty line. Shipler's varied portraits and interviews are insightful and moving, and his analysis of causes and suggestions for plausible change left me with genuine hope.
Synopses & Reviews
"Most of the people I write about in this book do not have the luxury of rage. They are caught in exhausting struggles. Their wages do not lift them far enough from poverty to improve their lives, and their lives, in turn, hold them back. The term by which they are usually described, 'working poor,' should be an oxymoron. Nobody who works hard should be poor in America." — from the Introduction
From the author of the Pulitzer Prize?winning Arab and Jew, a new book that presents a searing, intimate portrait of working American families struggling against insurmountable odds to escape poverty.
As David K. Shipler makes clear in this powerful, humane study, the invisible poor are engaged in the activity most respected in American ideology — hard, honest work. But their version of the American Dream is a nightmare: low-paying, dead-end jobs; the profound failure of government to improve upon decaying housing, health care, and education; the failure of families to break the patterns of child abuse and substance abuse. Shipler exposes the interlocking problems by taking us into the sorrowful, infuriating, courageous lives of the poor — white and black, Asian and Latino, citizens and immigrants. We encounter them every day, for they do jobs essential to the American economy.
We meet drifting farmworkers in North Carolina, exploited garment workers in New Hampshire, illegal immigrants trapped in the steaming kitchens of Los Angeles restaurants, addicts who struggle into productive work from the cruel streets of the nation's capital — each life another aspect of a confounding, far-reaching urgent national crisis. And unlike most works on poverty, this one delves into the calculations of some employers as well — their razor-thin profits, their anxieties about competition from abroad, their frustrations in finding qualified workers.
This impassioned book not only dissects the problems, but makes pointed, informed recommendations for change. It is a book that stands to make a difference.
"A damning report on poverty in America....A sobering work of investigation, as incisive — and necessary — as kindred reports by Michael Harrington, Jacob Riis, and Barbara Ehrenreich." Kirkus Reviews
"This guided and very personal tour through the lives of the working poor shatters the myth that America is a country in which prosperity and security are the inevitable rewards of gainful employment." Publishers Weekly
"Shipler fleshes out statistics and social policy with compelling portraits of people who struggle to maintain lives for themselves and their families....This is a compelling, insightful book for those interested in issues of poverty and social justice." Vanessa Bush, Booklist
"The Working Poor is a powerful exposé that builds from page to page, from one grim revelation to another, until you have no choice but to leap out of your armchair and strike a blow for economic justice." Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickel and Dimed
"Through a combination of hard facts and moving accounts of hardships endured by individuals, David Shipler's new book fills in the gaps and denounces the many myths of the politically drawn caricatures and stereotypes of workers who live in poverty in America. His call to action powerfully argues that we must simultaneously address the full range of interrelated problems that confront the poor instead of tackling one issue at a time. It is a compelling book that will shift the terms of and reinvigorate the debate about social justice in America." Bill Bradley
"[A] powerful new book....Clearly one of those seminal books that every American should read and read now." Ron Suskind, The New York Times Book Review
From the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Arab and Jew comes a new book that gives a searing, intimate portrait of working American families struggling against insurmountable odds to escape poverty.
About the Author
David K. Shipler worked for the New York Times from 1966 to 1988, reporting from New York, Saigon, Moscow, and Jerusalem before serving as chief diplomatic correspondent in Washington, D.C. He has also written for The New Yorker, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of three other books — Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams; Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land (which won the Pulitzer Prize); and A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America. Mr. Shipler, who has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has taught at Princeton University, at American University in Washington, D.C., and at Dartmouth College. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
Table of Contents
At the Edge of Poverty
Money and Its Opposite
Work Doesnt Work
Importing the Third World
Harvest of Shame
The Daunting Workplace
Sins of the Fathers
Body and Mind
Skill and Will
What Our Readers Are Saying
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