Someplace like America: Tales from the New Great Depression

Someplace like America: Tales from the New Great Depression

Someplace like America: Tales from the New Great Depression

Someplace like America: Tales from the New Great Depression

Synopsis

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.

Excerpt

I had completed most of the “Tom Joad” record when one night, unable to sleep, I pulled this book down off my living room shelf. I read it in one sitting and I lay awake that night disturbed by its power and frightened by its implications. In the next week, I wrote “Youngstown” and “The New Timer.” Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson put real lives, names, and faces on statistics we’d all been hearing about throughout the Eighties. People who all their lives had played by the rules, done the right thing, and had come up empty, men and women whose work and sacrifice had built this country, who’d given their sons to its wars and then whose lives were marginalized or discarded. I lay awake that night thinking: What if the craft I’d learned was suddenly deemed obsolete, no longer needed? What would I do to take care of my family? What wouldn’t I do?

Without getting on a soapbox, these are the questions Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson pose with their words and pictures. Men and women struggling to take care of their own in the most impossible conditions and still moving on, surviving.

As we tuck our children into bed at night, this is an America many of us fail to see, but it is a part of the country we live in, an increasing part. I believe a place and a people are judged not just by their accomplishments, but also by their compassion and sense of justice. In the future, that’s the frontier where we will all be tested. How well we do will be the America we leave behind for our children and grandchildren.

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