Monday, October 7, 2013

The American Way of Poverty - Sasha Abramsky

I have a few Shelf Awareness reviews to catch up on as well as a slew of other reviews. So in an effort to make a dent in catching up, I'm posting my review of Sasha Abramsky's The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives which first appeared in Shelf Awareness on September 20th. Obviously it isn't a crime novel, but this is a topic I feel quite passionately about and want to share with you. I hope you'll take a minute to check it out.

First line: "Fifty years after the social critic Michael Harrington published his groundbreaking book The Other America, in which he chronicled the lives lived of those excluded from the Age of Affluence, poverty in America is back with a vengeance."

Using The Other America--Michael Harrington's 1962 look at poverty--as a model, freelance journalist Sasha Abramsky compiled research, interviews and observations that spotlight the continuing and deepening issue of poverty in the United States. Abramsky's approach is both heartbreaking in its look at the humans who are affected and inspiring in his explanations of how poverty can be addressed and improved.

In its first section, The American Way of Poverty brings readers face to face with the realities of those living below the poverty line. The numbers are increasing rapidly due to unemployment, skyrocketing health care costs, the housing crash and natural disasters. Abramsky debunks myths and shows that the political system works to hold people in a state of penury, driving many to lose hope entirely. He also discusses how poverty is intertwined into most major issues facing the U.S. today, from health care to education and immigration.

The second section offers realistic, proven approaches to alleviate the state of impoverishment in this country. Abramsky doesn't claim that poverty will be eradicated, but that it can be improved with the help of empathy, education and fair politics.

The American Way of Poverty is likely to cause fear--almost no one is exempt from unplanned disasters--but it is also likely to motivate: there are answers; this country can and should improve. Well researched and documented, Abramsky's eye-opening book should be required reading for all U.S. citizens.

The American Way of Poverty is available in hardcover (ISBN: 9781568587264) from Nation Books.


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