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

4.1 out of 5 stars 96 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1401940638
ISBN-10: 1401940633
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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: 967 KB
  • Print Length: 234 pages
  • Publisher: SmileyBooks; 2nd ed. edition (April 17, 2012)
  • Publication Date: April 17, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007ST4B1U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #302,368 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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. It is a suburb of Chicago filled with $300,000+ single family homes, well-manicured lawns, good schools and safe places for children to play. There are probably at least a couple dozen suburbs of similar affluence in the metro Chicago are.

I live a couple suburbs over in the more working-class/blue collar Town of Cicero. Cicero has some pockets of deep poverty and has had a fair number foreclosed/abandoned homes and other evidence that the Recession hit hard. Nonetheless, Cicero is not blighted and the neighborhoods have mostly held on. The schools are decent, if a bit crowded and it’s not unsafe for children to play outside. There are also probably dozens of Chicago suburbs similar to Cicero.

I bring up these two suburbs as examples to illustrate my main concern with Smiley and West’s manifesto on poverty: the black and white division between “the rich” and “the rest of us”. I’m going to guess that very few people in River Forest consider themselves “rich”, despite their average family incomes approaching or exceeding the six-figure mark. Indeed, I would be surprised if very many River Forest residents are in the 1%, let alone the 0.01% who actually control the nation and the world.

On the other hand, despite its comparative lesser wealth, I doubt many people in Cicero consider themselves really poor. I would guess that more Cicero residents than River Forest residents are struggling to make ends meet, but by-and-large people are managing to stay in their homes, the Catholic Schools fill up each year and the food pantry, while well-patronized, is not overrun.
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