In the 1960’s and 1970’s, important books about poverty and hunger were commonplace and were widely-discussed parts of popular culture. These books even helped change policy. Michael Harrington’s 1962 classic, The Other America: Poverty in the United States, was credited with helping prompt JFK and LBJ to enact their anti-poverty initiatives.
No longer. Even though nearly 50 million Americans now live below the meager federal poverty line – and 49 million live in “food insecure” homes that are unable to afford an adequate supply of food – our culture is so enthralled with wealth that popular and influential books on poverty about as rare today as Republican moderates. But The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives, by Sasha Abramsky, aims to be an exception. Updating Harrington, Abramsky seeks to reignite a national debate over the poverty problem and also offers policy solutions to it. I hope he succeeds.