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The Working Poor: Invisible in America

by

The Working Poor: Invisible in America Cover

 

Staff Pick

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.
Recommended by Jill Owens, Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"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.

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"[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

Synopsis:

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

Preface

Introduction

At the Edge of Poverty

Chapter One

Money and Its Opposite

Chapter Two

Work Doesnt Work

Chapter Three

Importing the Third World

Chapter Four

Harvest of Shame

Chapter Five

The Daunting Workplace

Chapter Six

Sins of the Fathers

Chapter Seven

Kinship

Chapter Eight

Body and Mind

Chapter Nine

Dreams

Chapter Ten

Work Works

Chapter Eleven

Skill and Will

Epilogue

Notes

Index

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

forslar, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by forslar)
This book is the most intriguing and important I've ever read. Shipler investigates the lives and conditions of the working poor from a wide swath of American life both geographically, ethnically, situationally. The real people populating his writing made it clear to me that even I, a confirmed liberal, harbored many misconceptions about the poor in America, who they were, how they came to be that way, what it would take to get them out of this situation. This is a book that should be required reading in all schools and of all people before they set out to vote or participate in any way in our shared life.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
Yves, January 10, 2010 (view all comments by Yves)
I have been a Physician for over 20 year and during the these two decades I have dedicated most of my work to take care of the poor. For the last 8 to 9 years I have given lectures on poverty and cultural competency to hundreds of participants to Doctors, Nurses, social workers, administrators and alike. I have cited this book in every single one of my lectures. This book explains in a well written fashion what my message is. I have advised every single one of the attendants to my lectures to read this book and I have given away several copies. This book is a real "eye opener" for people to understand the barriers that the poor face every day.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780375708213
Author:
Shipler, David K
Publisher:
Vintage
Author:
Shipler, David K.
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
Finance, personal
Subject:
Poverty
Subject:
Social classes
Subject:
Poor
Subject:
Labor & Industrial Relations - General
Subject:
Poor -- United States.
Subject:
Debt -- United States.
Subject:
Sociology-Poverty
Subject:
poverty;sociology;non-fiction;economics;politics;labor;america;working poor;cultural studies;social justice;poor;inequality;current events;current affairs;social class
Subject:
economis inequality;poor;poverty;poverty in america;poverty line;trickle down;racism;welfare;minimum wage;antipoverty;current affairs;current events;banned book;social justice;labor;economics;american studies;cultural studies;bankruptcy;food stamps
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage
Publication Date:
20050131
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8.08x5.24x.76 in. .56 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Business » Human Resource Management
Business » Management
Featured Titles » History and Social Science
History and Social Science » American Studies » 80s to Present
History and Social Science » American Studies » General
History and Social Science » Economics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Labor
History and Social Science » Sociology » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Poverty
History and Social Science » Sociology » Social Classes
Sports and Outdoors » Martial Arts » General
Sports and Outdoors » Sports and Fitness » Martial Arts » General

The Working Poor: Invisible in America Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Vintage Books USA - English 9780375708213 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

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.

"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "[A] powerful new book....Clearly one of those seminal books that every American should read and read now."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
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