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The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto [Kindle Edition]

Tavis Smiley , Cornel West
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Record unemployment and rampant corporate avarice, empty houses but homeless families, dwindling opportunities in an increasingly paralyzed nation—these are the realities of 21st-century America, land of the free and home of the new middle class poor. Award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, one of the nation’s leading democratic intellectuals, co-hosts of Public Radio’s Smiley & West, now take on the “P” word—poverty.

The Rich and the Rest of Us is the next step in the journey that began with “The Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience.” Smiley and West’s 18-city bus tour gave voice to the plight of impoverished Americans of all races, colors, and creeds. With 150 million Americans persistently poor or near poor, the highest numbers in over five decades, Smiley and West argue that now is the time to confront the underlying conditions of systemic poverty in America before it’s too late.

By placing the eradication of poverty in the context of the nation’s greatest moments of social transformation— such as the abolition of slavery, woman’s suffrage, and the labor and civil rights movements—ending poverty is sure to emerge as America’s 21st ‑century civil rights struggle.

As the middle class disappears and the safety net is shredded, Smiley and West, building on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr., ask us to confront our fear and complacency with 12 poverty changing ideas. They challenge us to re-examine our assumptions about poverty in America—what it really is and how to eliminate it now.




Editorial Reviews

About the Author

From his celebrated conversations with world figures to his work to inspire the next generation of leaders as a broadcaster, author, advocate, and philanthropist, Tavis Smiley continues to be an outstanding voice for change. Currently, Smiley hosts the late-night television talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS; The Tavis Smiley Show, distributed by Public Radio International (PRI); and is a co-host of Smiley & West (PRI). He is the first American to simultaneously host signature talk shows on both public television and public radio. In addition to his radio and television work, Smiley has authored 16 books, including his New York Times bestselling memoir What I Know For Sure and the book he edited, the #1 New York Times bestseller, Covenant with Black America. He is also the presenter and creative force behind America I AM: The African American Imprint-an unprecedented and award-winning traveling museum exhibition celebrating the extraordinary impact of African American contributions to our nation and to the world. In 2009, Tavis Smiley was named one of TIME's "100 Most Influential People in the World" Educator and philosopher Cornel West is the Class of 1943 University Professor at Princeton University. Known as one of America's most gifted, provocative, and important democratic intellectuals, he is the author of the contemporary classic Race Matters, which changed the course of America's dialogue on race and justice; the New York Times bestseller Democracy Matters; and the memoir Brother West: Living and Loving Out Loud. He is the author of 17 other texts and the recipient of the American Book Award. West holds more than 20 honorary degrees, and will return this fall as Professor of Philosophy and Christian Practice at Union Theological Seminary in New York City.

Product Details

  • File Size: 622 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1401940633
  • Publisher: SmileyBooks (April 17, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007ST4B1U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #204,816 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
115 of 127 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Down-sizing the American Dream April 18, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
The "Smiley/West Show" has taken to the road. Two giants of American Christian patriotism have joined forces to wage a war, not on, but for, the poor. Together they give a new much-needed high profile voice to the "the least of us." And even though they do not yet know how they are going to pull it off, their ultimate goal is nothing less than to help restore the American dream - the one that has been "outsourced," "down-sized," "sodomized," and then bludgeoned to death by our corporate overlords and their elected whores in both of the political parties - both of whom have abandoned the poor, and both of whom dance to the tunes of their corporate paymasters.

According to these authors, so far in the 2012 Presidential campaign, the spoke-persons for neither political party have been able to shape their lips to form the word "poor," or vocalize the word "poverty."

Smiley and West, the "last-standing" champions of the poor, are "walking their talk," as they "end-run" the "bought-and-paid for," impotent and purposefully dysfunctional American political process. They go straight to the doorsteps of the people on the frontlines of the strategically engineered Wall Street war against them called the Wall Street meltdown and also euphemistically referred to as our new globalized economy. From their vantage point, the shock and trauma to what used to be called the "middle-class" (but is now version 2.0 of the poor) is incalulatable!

In this short but tightly written book, this fearsome-twosome share with us what they have learned as they listened to the poor, took careful notes, and then used this book as a way to get the poor's message out. And what they discovered is both shocking and disheartening: that there is a new kind of poverty "out there." It is version 2.
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21 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pick of the Day April 24, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
Just in time for the fall presidential election campaign, talk show host Tavis Smiley and philosopher Cornel West attempt to force poverty back into the national discourse. "The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto" expands on themes developed during their nationwide bus tour last year. On Democracy Now!, they argued that one out of two Americans struggles with poverty. "You take the perennially poor or the persistent poor, on top of them the new poor--we argue in this book the new poor are the former middle class--and the near poor, folk who are a paycheck away, that's 150 million Americans wrestling with poverty," Smiley said.

The book's website declares "by placing the eradication of poverty in the context of the nation's greatest moments of social transformation--the abolition of slavery, woman's suffrage, and the labor and civil rights movements--ending poverty is sure to emerge as the defining civil rights struggle of America's 21st century ." Stephen Colbert, predictably, had a critical perspective, which he shared with the authors when they were guess on his show. ""The Rich and the Rest of Us:" that is class warfare... I believe there is one America! One America, sir, that the richest 1% just happens to own 42% of." (originally posted at left eye on books org)
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20 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Three stars for effort May 9, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I expected a much more convincing argument from these two minds. The statistics were often confusing, contradictory, and unconvincing. Anecdotal evidence is weak without the larger statistical evidence to back it up. The authors make some excellent points however, and the fact that they are among a very few really driving for solutions to poverty is commendable. Given the connections and status of these individuals, I was left wondering why they didn't utilize more authorities on the subject and reference stronger academic studies in the book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well documented, insightful work. January 1, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
There are times I have had to put this work down as the reality of poverty in America is truly depressing, particularly given the fact that it doesn't have to be this way. However, given the strategies offered by Smiley and West and the fact that they have been organizing the "poverty tour," there is a way out if we organize. Thanks so much to the authors for educating us on the issue.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A word from the rest of us: May 10, 2013
By Isabel
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Timely book given the class/race/gender struggles going on in the United States while middle and upper classes are engaged in a business as usual model - basically trancing on the American Dream for some.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Wanted to like it. Couldn't September 10, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I got to see Cornel West speak back in 2008, and even though I did not see eye to eye with him on a few issues, I could not deny his energy, passion, and charisma. Ever since then I have followed Cornel West's career. I have read a number of his articles and have watched several interviews of him.

I know he has written numerous best-selling books, but I was never sure which one I should start with. I finally saw The Rich and the Rest of Us written by Cornel West and media personality Tavis Smiley. Fighting for the poor is one of the pillars of West's philosophy and I was eager to read this work and see how he approaches the subject.

As much as I wanted to like this book, I just cannot give it my (worthless) stamp of approval. My major criticism is inconsistency. At one moment the authors are talking about rebuilding America to the great country that it once was, but then quickly turn around and discuss the atrocities of America's past including genocide of Native Americans, enslavement of Africans, and abuse of child labor. It is difficult to push America as a beacon of hope when it has such an ugly past.
I do appreciate that West and Smiley remain apolitical in their argument, in that they blame both democrats and republicans for this problems at hand. They would be the first admit that there is absolutely no communist or socialist in the White House right now.

I really didn't get a lot of answers from this book, nor did I feel like I got a lot of good questions. The only solutions I deduced: we need to make it illegal for companies to make a lot of money and being rich is wrong. I don't think those are reasonable solutions.

Here is the best quote from the book.

"How can we take comfort in the phrase `One Nation Under God' when we ignore the examples of compassion dictated by Christ?"
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Very enlightening!
Published 4 days ago by Roderick F Smith
3.0 out of 5 stars It's more complicated than that
I read a large chunk of this book sitting in my car in the leafy suburban paradise of River Forest, Illinois while waiting for my daughters at a birthday party. Read more
Published 19 days ago by Dienne
3.0 out of 5 stars Thought-provoking and disconcerting
filled with stats that will likely cause you to lose sleep, the authors make a compelling case for addressing poverty in America.
Published 1 month ago by Ann Mac
5.0 out of 5 stars The divide between those who have a great deal and those who have only...
The divide between those who have a great deal and those who have only enough to be comfortable is large, but not one that we, fortunately, let become one that leads to a battle.
Published 1 month ago by John M. Flaherty Jr.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
great book
Published 2 months ago by shikira
5.0 out of 5 stars You have been deceived! Bamboozled!
Need to read if you are even the slightest bit concerned about where this country is going and what it's been up to.
Published 3 months ago by J.Grimm
3.0 out of 5 stars Lacks interest.
Great title but no substance. Frankly I did not finish it, it is perhaps not fair for me to pass judgement.
Published 4 months ago by eagleeyepete
2.0 out of 5 stars Hypocritical
The authors advocate for nondiscrimination of the poor through dehumanization and demonization, however they opt to place this label upon the rich, affluent, and well-off. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Vincent N.
5.0 out of 5 stars A Remarkable Debut!!!!
"Ass Burn" is the totally hilarious and relatable story of a young woman who realizes that regardless of how much formal education we may have, Life is always the ultimate... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lesley
4.0 out of 5 stars Must Read
Smiley and West challenge us to really see poverty for what it is and the potential implications should our nation turn a blind eye to this 21st Century issue.
Published 7 months ago by Erica Hanley
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