Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression

Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression

Dale Maharidge

Language: English

Pages: 256

ISBN: 0520262476

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In Someplace Like America, writer Dale Maharidge and photographer Michael S. Williamson take us to the working-class heart of America, bringing to life—through shoe leather reporting, memoir, vivid stories, stunning photographs, and thoughtful analysis—the deepening crises of poverty and homelessness. The story begins in 1980, when the authors joined forces to cover the America being ignored by the mainstream media—people living on the margins and losing their jobs as a result of deindustrialization. Since then, Maharidge and Williamson have traveled more than half a million miles to investigate the state of the working class (winning a Pulitzer Prize in the process). In Someplace Like America, they follow the lives of several families over the thirty-year span to present an intimate and devastating portrait of workers going jobless. This brilliant and essential study—begun in the trickle-down Reagan years and culminating with the recent banking catastrophe—puts a human face on today’s grim economic numbers. It also illuminates the courage and resolve with which the next generation faces the future.

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percentage and type of people who opposed FDR in the 1930s. There is currently no left movement comparable to the Tea Party to act as a counterbalance. Those who are politically liberal, moderate, or independent are feeling a similar amount of fear and anger, but they have not yet found voice in any group or political party. There are myriad reasons why, but I believe that one of the most important is how we view ourselves in terms of class. Sometime between the middle of the last century and

Carthage, Tennessee, where Al Gore lived in a brick house on 88 acres at the pinnacle of a hill outside town. On a hunch and winging it, we went to a nearby 1968-vintage public housing project. It was a warm spring day. I spotted a woman sitting on a porch in the thirty-eight-unit complex of duplexes, set amid trees. I asked, utterly vamping, “I hear there’s some guy around here who used to work on the Gore farm.” The woman pointed to a house across the lawn. “He lives over there.” We walked

out,” I noted. The third-floor hallway was littered with debris — people have sledgehammered walls open for pipes, copper wire, and other metals to sell for salvage. Shamus had been trying to meet the inhabitants of this floor for weeks, to no avail. “You’ve got a number of different implements here,” Shamus noted. “Crack pipes. I don’t want to get stabbed by that. Or that,” he said, pointing to hypodermic needles on a bed and floor. “From my experience with our clients, a lot of them are

organizations �working to end homelessness in New Orleans, interviewed July 21, 2009 Martha Kegel could have been referring not just to New Orleans, but to the United States of America. It’s as if someone decided to run a dark experiment to see what would occur if the government did everything in its power to ensure that high-paying, middle-class jobs would be destroyed and replaced with low-wage, service-sector jobs. If the rules were changed so that the rich could amass more wealth, including

ride from Manhattan. The couple bought their suburban house in 1996. Unlike many blue-collar people who have spent their working lives dodging layoffs, this white-collar couple seemed bulletproof against hard times. Lisa, who works for Catholic Charities, has a master’s degree; and her husband was director of global affairs for a large corporation, making over $75 an hour. On June 13, 2008, their world changed. Lisa’s husband was laid off. That meant a 70 percent drop in income. He got a job at

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