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A People's History of Poverty in America (New Press People's History)

4.5 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1565849341
ISBN-10: 1565849345
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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Reveals not only the terrible want but the sharply punishing indignity of being poor in a culture that celebrates affluence.”
—Frances Fox Piven, author of Poor People’s Movements

“The voices of the poor give valuable insights into the experience of poverty.”
Choice

“A must read for anyone interested in learning the real story of poverty, social welfare policy, and social change.”
—Mimi Abramovitz, Hunter College School of Social Work and the Graduate Center, CUNY

“A concise and distinctive bottom-up history.”
Library Journal

“This book is long overdue. Stephen Pimpare reveals how long-standing American societal prejudices have led to poverty policy that regulates, exploits, and dehumanizes the poor rather than addressing the root causes.”
—Sondra Youdelman, Community Voices Heard
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Stephen Pimpare is the author of The New Victorians: Poverty, Politics, and Propaganda in Two Gilded Ages. He teaches American politics and social welfare policy at Yeshiva College and the Wurzweiler School of Social Work.


Howard Zinn is professor emeritus at Boston University. He is the author of numerous books including A People’s History of the United States, the award-winning Declarations of Independence, and Failure to Quit, as well as the recent memoir You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train and the play Marx in Soho.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Press People's History
  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: New Press, The (November 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565849345
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565849341
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,099,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

The author of two books and some sixty articles, essays, and reviews on poverty, welfare, and inequality, Stephen Pimpare has appeared on NPR, CNN, UP with Chris Hayes, CBC News, Democracy Now, GritTV, Progressive Radio, and the Leonard Lopate Show; delivered lectures at the Urban Institute, Center for American Progress, Yale Divinity School, and the University of Chicago, among others; and taught courses on American politics, public policy, and the history of social work and social welfare at New York University, Columbia University, the City University of New York, and Simmons School of Social Work.

His second book, A People's History of Poverty in America, received the Michael Harrington Award from the American Political Science Association, was included on the Baltimore Sun's "Top 25" summer reading list, and has appeared in Japanese- and Spanish-language editions. In addition to his work in the traditional classroom, he has designed and taught online courses and seminars on poverty in the U.S. for the AmeriCorps VISTA program and for the Silver School of Social Work at NYU.

He previously served as a senior-level administrator of not-for-profit direct service and advocacy organizations addressing issues of poverty, hunger, and homelessness throughout the five boroughs of New York City. One of the programs he helped to create, One City Café, New York's first non-profit restaurant, was hailed by the New York Times as "the reinvention of the soup kitchen" and subsequently received the Victory Against Hunger Award from the Congressional Hunger Center.

He is currently at work on Ghettoes, Tramps, and Welfare Queens: Down & Out on the Silver Screen.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Finally a book that traces poverty in the U.S. in historical perspective, and through the voices of the poor themselves. Read it to learn about the lived experience of poverty. This is a must read for social scientists and everyday people alike. Well-written with succinct, insightful analysis by the author. Take it from someone who has first hand experience and has studied the subject for a long time---this book is well worth the price. You won't be able to put it down.
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Format: Paperback
Judging from the other reviews--all one-star or five-star at this point--this book generates intense emotions. It partially deserves this. It _is_ a relentless book in its unsparing look at poverty throughout American history. What readers seem to especially admire and hate is its real focus: why people in poverty act in ways for which they receive the opprobrium of those better off. Stealing, drinking, having kids on welfare, roaming from town to town, responding to charity with ingratitude--these are explained from the point of view of people who do them or who are accused of doing them. How open you are to such explanations will have a profound impact on how you react to this book. As someone who underwent a sustained period of un/under-employment at the beginning of the Great Recession and didn't like how it affected my personality (in ways that mostly vanished upon finding full-time work), it's not difficult for me to imagine someone in much more dire straits engaging in ways that may not seem terribly productive to an outsider.

The book is organized according to themes like survival, welfare, food, etc. Despite being historical in spirit (it's mostly postwar), there is no chronological narrative. Instead, Pimpare focuses on issues that keep coming up throughout time, like the hostility directed towards those who receive help, the inadequacy of such help and so forth. The decision to organize the book that way helps readers see continuity over time at the expense of giving a sense of any changes. Pimpare's decision to organize the book that way appears driven by his view that things haven't changed that much, but it has the potential to drive batty readers who think history can only take the form of a story.
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Format: Paperback
I would love to have every high school student read this book, as well as every person who posts ignorant memes on Facebook about mandatory drug testing for welfare recipients. Read this book and you may end up with a whole different perspective on what it means to be poor in America.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Middle-class people have rights and they like to think that everyone does. The rich, of course, know that rights are bought and sold, and the poor know it too. Those between them live in an illusion.".

Lars Eigner, quoted in Pimpare's "A People's History of Poverty in America" (141)

Not an easy book to read, but very much a necessary book to read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Stephen Pimpare's book is an important contribution to the literature of American History. he gives an indepth look at poverty and welfare as experienced by those who live it. his book examines urban, suburban and rural poverty as seen through the eyes of those who live it everyday. Pimpare also gives an examination of policy that informs welfare programs. His book provides an indepth look at the lives of those who are so often forgotten by the people in power. This book is an excellent examination of poverty programs, welfare recipients and those who live below the view of those in charge. His book should be required reading for social workers and students of history.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not even half-way done with this book (bought it for a class), and I'm in love with it. Unlike other books and articles where I have to skim because of limited time (or limited interest), I have found myself reading every word, and annotating on every page. This is truly masterful writing on the subject of poverty, showing the different faces that have made up the general population of "the poor" throughout history and into today. I feel so fortunate that the author will be coming to my class to speak next week! I'm sure that the rest of the book will be just as good as what I've read thus far, and I can't wait to read it!
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