The Working Poor
Invisible in America
By David K. Shipler
(Vintage, Paperback, 9780375708213, 352pp.)
Publication Date: January 4, 2005
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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“Nobody who works hard should be poor in America,” writes Pulitzer Prize winner David Shipler. Clear-headed, rigorous, and compassionate, he journeys deeply into the lives of individual store clerks and factory workers, farm laborers and sweat-shop seamstresses, illegal immigrants in menial jobs and Americans saddled with immense student loans and paltry wages. They are known as the working poor.
They perform labor essential to America’s comfort. They are white and black, Latino and Asian--men and women in small towns and city slums trapped near the poverty line, where the margins are so tight that even minor setbacks can cause devastating chain reactions. Shipler shows how liberals and conservatives are both partly right–that practically every life story contains failure by both the society and the individual. Braced by hard fact and personal testimony, he unravels the forces that confine people in the quagmire of low wages. And unlike most works on poverty, this book also offers compelling portraits of employers struggling against razor-thin profits and competition from abroad. With pointed recommendations for change that challenge Republicans and Democrats alike, The Working Poor stands to make a difference.
David K. Shipler worked for the New York Times from 1966 to 1988, reporting from New York, Saigon, Moscow, and Jerusalem before serving as chief diplomatic correspondent in Washington, D.C. He has also written for The New Yorker, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. He is the author of three other books–Russia: Broken Idols, Solemn Dreams; the Pulitzer Prize–winning Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in a Promised Land; and A Country of Strangers: Blacks and Whites in America. Mr. Shipler, who has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has taught at Princeton University, at American University in Washington, D.C., and at Dartmouth College. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
"This is clearly one of those seminal books that every American should read and read now." --The New York Times Book Review
" An essential book. . . . It should be required reading not just for every member of Congress, but for every eligible voter." --The Washington Post Book World
“Sensitive, sometimes heart-rending . . . . A vivid portrait of the struggle of the working poor to acquire steady, decently paid employment.” –Commentary
"Insightful and moving. . . . Shipler writes with enormous grace [and] he captures the immense frustration endured by the working poor as few others have." --The Nation
"Welcome and important. . . . Shipler manages to see all aspects of poverty--psychological, personal, societal--and examine how they're related. . . . There is much here to ponder for conservatives and liberals alike." —The Seattle Times