Broke, USA (Hardcover)

From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.—How the Working Poor Became Big Business

By Gary Rivlin

HarperBusiness, 9780061733215, 368pp.

Publication Date: June 8, 2010

List Price: 26.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.


From the author of the New York Times Notable Book of the Year Drive By comes a unique and riveting exploration of one of America’s largest and fastest-growing industries—the business of poverty. Broke, USA is a Fast Food Nation for the “poverty industry” that will also appeal to readers of Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and David Shipler (The Working Poor).

About the Author

Gary Rivlin is the author of Fire on the Prairie, Drive By (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year), and The Plot to Get Bill Gates. A two-time Gerald Loeb Award winner, he has been a reporter for the New York Times, Chicago Reader, and other publications, and his articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Wired, and elsewhere.

Praise For Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.—How the Working Poor Became Big Business

“[A] scathing, important book, Broke, USA... includes one shocking anecdote after another.”
—Joe Nocera, the New York Times

“Mr. Rivlin brings to his subject a genuine gift for storytelling.”
Wall Street Journal

“Rivlin strives to portray the people behind Poverty Inc. in a fair light…but his sympathy and the reader’s steadily evaporate with his well-chosen tales of the industry’s coercive tactics and it’s leaders’ astonishing wealth….Rivlin is the consummate tour guide, quick with a memorable anecdote or telling statistic.”
—New York Times Book Review

“An exhaustive exposé.”
Washington Post

“[Rivlin] offers a superb expose of the ‘poverty business’... A timely, important, and deeply disturbing look at the cycle of dept in the nation’s most vulnerable.”
Publishers Weekly

“[A] fascinating book.”

“Gary Rivlin rivets readers.”
Fast Company

“[An] incisive, important new expose, Broke, enraging, but Rivlin’s work also is scrupulously fair.... [W]hat makes Broke, USA so readable is Rivlin’s skill at telling a complex story through engaging characters.”
Cleveland Plain Dealer

“This is a powerful analysis, detailing how the financial sector has come to its current state of crisis and including personal stories of some among the millions of working Americans who have been exploited along the way.”
Booklist (starred review)

“To understand American finance, you need to understand Ace Cash Express as much as you need to understand Goldman Sachs. Which is why Gary Rivlin’s “Broke, USA” is a necessary companion.”
—Ezra Klein, Washington Post

“Gary Rivlin’s Broke, USA is a necessary companion...”

“Broke, USA is vital reading for those seeking to deepen their understanding of the economic crash of the past few years.”
—Associated Press

“This thorough and thoughtful piece of reporting has much to teach us about the challenges the U.S. faces today, especially when it comes to improving financial literacy. It should be required reading for legislators and lenders across the land.”
Bloomberg News

“In Broke, USA, Rivlin lays out this depressing story in rich detail.... [H]is riveting look at the calamitous effects on America demands attention.”
Charlotte News & Observer

“A fascinating and very important work of investigation and explanation, which I hope gets the wide attention it deserves.... This is a book with the potential to stimulate outrage—and political reform.”
—James Fallows, the Atlantic author of Breaking the News

“With revealing stories, Gary Rivlin spotlights the systematic, widespread economic abuse of the poor by supposedly respectable corporations whose predatory conduct breeds misery and undoes many efforts by taxpayers to alleviate poverty.”
—David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer prize-winning author of Free Lunch and Perfectly Legal

Broke USA will leave you mad as hell. Thanks, Gary Rivlin, for introducing us to folks like Bill Brennan, who early on saw it coming: the predatory lending that has destroyed communities. If only we had listened.”
—Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and Never a City So Real

Coverage from NPR