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275 of 288 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Uncomfortable facts - but face reality!, January 23, 2002
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This review is from: Life at the Bottom: The Worldview that Makes the Underclass (Hardcover)
The review from Publisher's Weekly makes many points, but begins with a fallacy: Dalrymple's repeated claim is precisely that these people are NOT 'trapped in destructive behaviors and environments' but that most of them, while they may well feel trapped, are there as a consequence of their own choices. His examples and insights are particularly useful for Americans who naturally associate these behaviors with our own experience, where they correlate with race. Dalrymple makes it clear that they do correlate with culture (e.g. different populations from India now residing in Britain have very different crime and drop-out rates,though they all look 'Indian' and so should all have the same experience of racism or non-inclusion). The book is a collection of shorter pieces and could have used some editing of content (to reduce repetition) and of style (the vocabulary editing for the U.S. reader is inconsistent), but the cumulative evidence of Dalrymple's experience cannot be waved away. As he points out early on, if a person's fate in life is pre-determined by his social and physical environment, then we should all still be living in caves... Certainly in a modern and liberal society, citizens have the right to pursue their own lives and their own visions (and versions) of 'happiness.' But whether the rest of us should subsidize the layabouts is another question. Publisher's Weekly is quite wrong in saying that he 'offers few conrete or theoretical solutions.' Dalrymple is crystal clear on that: take responsibility for your own life; the greater community will help in an emergency, but will not provide a home and a meal ticket for years. This book is worthwhile reading for everyone.
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