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Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It Hardcover – June 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 209 pages
  • Publisher: Polipoint Press (June 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0981709117
  • ISBN-13: 978-0981709116
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,187,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Journalist Abramsky (Hard Times Blues) combines an account of his own seven-week experiment in living on a poverty budget with moving vignettes of men and women who have fallen through society's frayed safety net and are suffering from food insecurity. Tens of millions of Americans live in a continual state of anxiety; to malnutrition is added the further suffering of shame and despair. Focusing on communities in Western states, the author uncovers the tragedy of the collapse of the middle class. Unionized industrial giants like General Motors have fallen on hard times and global economic restructuring has had a devastating impact on many workers, often stripping them of benefits accumulated over decades. Although providing a vivid glimpse into the world of food banks and soup kitchens, the book, which reads like a series of newspaper articles, offers few suggestions for solving the problem aside from challenging political leaders to make corrections to a system gone tragically awry. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Abramsky writes in the best tradition of Barbara Ehrenreich, Studs Terkel, and John Steinbeck. The fruit of his patient and compassionate research, Breadline USA, is required reading for all of us concerned to banish, forever, the long hidden legacy of hunger in America." -- Raj Patel "Author of Stuffed and Starved"

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Rabbi Jill Jacobs on May 13, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Cross-posted from [...]

I just finished Sasha Abramsky's excellent Breadline USA: The Hidden Scandal of American Hunger and How to Fix It. Abramsky takes us inside food pantries, soup kitchens, and school lunch programs and introduces us to Americans struggling to feed themselves and their families. In a series of "interludes," Abramsky recounts his own adventures in hunger--while researching the book, he spends seven weeks living on a reduced food budget in order better to understand how it feels to be hungry.

The funny thing about this book is: while it purports to be about hunger, it's actually about jobs.

All of the people whom Abramsky profiles are victims of our country's broken labor system. He devotes a chapter to the way that Wal-Mart has driven down wages for the entire service industry, laments the decline in the real value of the minimum wage, and visits manufacturing workers who have lost their pensions in a multi-million dollar company buy-out.

Other issues come up as well: as a result of rising gas prices (at the time that the book was published), work isn't always profitable, and the high cost of health care means that a single health crisis can plunge a family into debt. Come to think of it, these last two issues are about jobs as well. . .

Rabbis and synagogue members often tell me that they have chosen, as a community, to work on hunger because of the prevalance of this issue in America, and because the issue is "not political." And it's easy to identify with hunger--all of us have experienced at least mild hunger pains, many of us are familiar with end-of-Yom Kippur nausea and weakness, and some of us grew up hearing the hunger memories of Holocaust survivors.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sharon Dove on January 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Sasha Abramsky hit a home run with this very important book. A must-read for everyone who cares about the 40 million food insecure people in our country.
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0 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lisa on August 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book will come in handy during my research project however I wish it didn't smell musty and I wonder why it was even sold. Hunger among the poor is real and the media really just does not get it. Living on the "thrifty" meal plan is like having less than five dollars a day for your meals. Who really can live on that in 2012?
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kristofer Lewis on January 2, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The title of this review was the only positive point of said review. The only reason I had to get the book was for a Communications class, so I went into this read already disappointed. But I was somewhat hopeful on the subject matter, hoping it would expose me to something I wasn't aware of. It did, but not very well. The author comes of as a somewhat spoiled young man, at least compared to his subjects, but stated at the beginning of the book he was willing to step into their shoes. Sadly he only did this halfway as he would "cheat" sometimes and not live the proposed life. He was biased in all of his opinions and by the end of this book I was sad to say he failed in his attempt. Even worse, come to find out we only needed the book for one day of discussion.....all in all this was a complete waste of my time. Do yourself a favor and find a better book to read.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Loyd E. Eskildson HALL OF FAME on August 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
"Breadline USA" is written about hunger in America; however, it actually is about a much bigger problem - declining and lost jobs, pay, and benefits, combined with the rapidly rising costs of energy and health care. Unfortunately, the bulk of the book consists of biased reporting of anecdotal stories from primarily rural families, making "Breadline USA" rather wordy and difficult to put into perspective.

I say "biased" because the author doesn't explore why those covered do not pursue moving into urban areas where help is more accessible, what they and others could do to help themselves (eg. pursue retraining), nor why they ended up where they are now. On the other hand, I am not suggesting these problems are trivial or entirely self-caused, having met individuals myself who have lost most of their jobs, pensions and health care benefits through corporate bankruptcies and restructuring, or retrained only to find their new "opportunities" unexpectedly wiped out by new problems. I have, however, seen many people use Food Stamps for purchases at high-priced "Quickie-Marts" instead of nearby lower-cost grocery stores (there is even a market for selling Food Stamps at a discount to buy prohibited items - eg. liquor), fail to patronize "day-old" bread stores, start relatively large families without sufficient incomes, be satisfied with a lifetime of seasonal employment followed by unemployment insurance, and decline easily obtainable high-paying/good benefit jobs in preference to living at home with parents while pursuing much less desirable work.

Another bias of the author is that he doesn't recognize that many of today's problems are PARTLY the outgrowth of prior union excesses within eg.
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