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Poverty, by America

By: Matthew Desmond
Narrated by: Dion Graham
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Publisher's Summary

Brought to you by Penguin.

The United States is the richest country on earth, yet has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. One in seven Americans live below the poverty line, a line which hasn't shifted over the last fifty years, despite the efforts of successive governments and extensive relief programs. Why is there so much scarcity in this land of dollars?

In Poverty, by America, acclaimed sociologist Matthew Desmond examines the nature of American poverty today and the stories we tell ourselves about it. Spanning racism, social isolation, mass incarceration, the housing crisis, domestic violence, crack and opioid epidemics, welfare cuts and more, Desmond argues that poverty does not result from a lack of resources or good policy ideas. We already know how to eliminate it. The hard part is getting more of us to care.

To do so, we need a new story. As things stand, liberals explain poverty through insurmountable structural issues, whereas conservatives highlight personal failings and poor life choices. Both analyses abdicate responsibility, and ignore the reality that the advantages of the rich only come at the expense of the poor. It is time better-paid citizens put themselves back in the narrative, recognizing that the depth and expanse of poverty in any nation reflects our failure to look out for one another. Poverty must ultimately be met by community: all this suffering and want is our doing, and we can undo it.

©2023 Matthew Desmond (P)2023 Penguin Audio
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

Critic Reviews

"Matthew Desmond writes with honesty, clarity and even occasional poetry about a scourge that should shame us all. Poverty, by America contains impeccable expert evidence but also the stories of human beings. It offers hope to all of us who still look to the USA for progressive imagination in our so unequal world." (Shami Chakrabarti)

"Poverty, By America is a book that appeals to both the heart and the intellect. Desmond deftly combines intimate portrayals of poverty with a clarion call for systemic action. He is utterly convincing: we must all become poverty abolitionists." (Emily Kenway, author of The Truth About Modern Slavery)

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