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The Unbanking of America: How the New Middle Class Survives Hardcover – January 10, 2017
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“Lisa Servon is one gutsy professor. Unlike so many academics – who just theorize – she lived her story. She actually rolled up her sleeves and worked as a teller and a loan collector in several poor neighborhoods. She also provides a smart, lucid, and original take on how our banking system became such a mess. This is an important book.”—Jake Halpern, author of Bad Paper: Inside the Secret World of Debt Collectors
“In her eye-opening book, Lisa Servon does a Barbara Ehrenreich and goes to work at a check-cashing shop and a payday lending store to illuminate how this little-understood side of the financial service world works. Servon shows keen insights into the financial problems that millions of Americans face, how and why banks and other financial institutions often fail them, and what’s on the horizon for financial services for the new middle class.” —Steven Greenhouse, long-time journalist and author of The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker
“A startling ethnographic investigation of everyday financial life, based on Lisa Servon's work as a teller, lender, and loan collector in some of America's most insecure communities, and extensive research on banking among the middle class. The Unbanking of America muddies the distinctions between reputed and stigmatized financial institutions, showing that we're all overpaying for low levels of service. It's an important story, and a powerful read.” —Eric Klinenberg, Professor of Sociology and Director of the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University
"The failure of banks to meet the needs of the 99%—and the cottage industries filling the gap—are thoughtfully explored in this startling and absorbing exposé ... Required reading for fans of muckraking authors like Barbara Ehrenreich, this fascinating look at the future of money management insists that the ever-growing number of the 'unbanked' are a sector deserving of respect and solid options." —Publishers Weekly, starred review
"The author delivers valuable evidence on the fragility of the personal economies of most Americans these days . . . An indictment of a financial structure bent on large returns at the expense of all else, but also offers hope for ways around that ravenous system."
"An intelligent plea for financial justice . . . [An] excellent book . . . Servon’s compassion and intelligence light up every page of this valuable book. 'Unbanking' exposes core reasons why many Americans aren’t gaining financial traction as she skewers huge banks for maneuvers and manipulations that have little to do with providing service."
—Christian Science Monitor
"[An} exceptional piece of academic research that not only masters the statistics and the implications of an important social problem, but informs that cool account with frontline observations in the great tradition of Barbara Ehrenreich . . Unlike too many other commentators, Servon does not let mainstream banks off the hook in her rigorous analysis of the dynamics of lower- and middle-class debt . . . A readable, informative, thorough, and even gut-wrenching account of an under-reported problem that causes much misery. Viewed as a piece of muckraking journalism, her book is a significant contribution to the progressive narrative regarding the biggest problems we confront."
—The American Prospect
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