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Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond
Poverty, by America by Matthew Desmond

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLERThe Pulitzer Prize–winning, bestselling author of Evicted reimagines the debate on poverty, making a new and bracing argument about why it persists in America: because the rest of us benefit from it.

ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2023: The Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Elle, Salon, Lit Hub, Kirkus Reviews

The United States, the richest country on earth, has more poverty than any other advanced democracy. Why? Why does this land of plenty allow one in every eight of its children to go without basic necessities, permit scores of its citizens to live and die on the streets, and authorize its corporations to pay poverty wages? 

In this landmark book, acclaimed sociologist Matthew Desmond draws on history, research, and original reporting to show how affluent Americans knowingly and unknowingly keep poor people poor. Elegantly written and fiercely argued, this compassionate book gives us new ways of thinking about a morally urgent problem. It also helps us imagine solutions. Desmond builds a startlingly original and ambitious case for ending poverty. He calls on us all to become poverty abolitionists, engaged in a politics of collective belonging to usher in a new age of shared prosperity and, at last, true freedom.

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Join Matthew Desmond on Tour for Poverty, by America

Wednesday, May 24– Magic City Books – Tulsa, OK
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Tuesday, May 30– MLK50: Justice Through Journalism– Memphis, TN
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Wednesday, June 21 – WBUR CitySpace – Boston, MA
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Monday, June 26 – A Cappella Books – Atlanta, GA
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Additional events to be announced.

Praise for
Poverty, by America

“Urgent and accessible… It’s refreshing to read a work of social criticism that eschews the easy and often smug allure of abstraction, in favor of plainspoken practicality. Poverty, by America deserves to be one of those books you see people reading on the subway, or handing around at organizing meetings, or citing in congressional hearings. Its moral force is a gut punch.”
—The New Yorker

“‘Poverty, by America’ is a compact jeremiad on the persistence of extreme want in a nation of extraordinary wealth…His purpose here is to draw attention to what’s plain in front of us — damn the etiquette, and damn the grand abstractions."
—New York Times Book Review

[Poverty, by America] shows how wealthy and middle class Americans knowingly and unknowingly perpetuate a broken system that keeps poor people poor. It’s not an easy problem to fix, but through in-depth research and original reporting, the acclaimed sociologist offers solutions that would help spread America’s wealth and make everyone more prosperous.”

“With Poverty, by America, [Desmond] blends history, research and firsthand reporting to show how the wealthy punish the poor and keep people living in poverty, both purposefully and without realizing. Passionate and empathetic.”

"Reading Poverty, by America, I felt like Matthew Desmond was sitting at my kitchen table, explaining the complexities of poverty in a way I could completely understand. This book is essential and instructive, hopeful and enraging. It is a road map for how we can be better people, working together to build a better country."
—Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth

“A powerful inquiry . . . Desmond enriches his detailed and trenchant analysis with poignant reflections on America’s ‘unblushing inequality’ and the ‘anomie of wealth.’ It’s a gut-wrenching call for change.”
—Publishers Weekly

“[A] brilliantly researched and artfully written study of how the U.S. has failed to effectively address the issue of poverty…. [Desmond] also uses his knowledge of the subject to explore what works and identify potential solutions that merit further consideration. This thoughtful investigation of a critically important subject, a piercing title by an astute writer who is both passionate and fearless, is valuable reading for all concerned with affecting positive change.” 
Booklist (starred)

Praise for Evicted

“This book gave me a better sense of what it is like to be very poor in this country than anything else I have read. . . . It is beautifully written, thought-provoking, and unforgettable.”
—Bill Gates

“Astonishing... Desmond has set a new standard for reporting on poverty."
—Barbara Ehrenreich, New York Times Book Review

Evicted stands among the very best of the social justice books.”
—Ann Patchett, author of Bel Canto and Commonwealth

“Gripping and moving—tragic, too.”
—Jesmyn Ward, author of Salvage the Bones

Evicted is that rare work that has something genuinely new to say about poverty.”
San Francisco Chronicle

Photo of Matthew Desmond

Photo: © Barron Bixler


Matthew Desmond is a professor of sociology at Princeton University. After receiving his Ph.D. in 2010 from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, he joined the Harvard Society of Fellows as a Junior Fellow. He is the author of four books, including Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City (2016), which won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, Carnegie Medal, and PEN / John Kenneth Galbraith Award for Nonfiction. The principal investigator of The Eviction Lab, Desmond’s research focuses on poverty in America, city life, housing insecurity, public policy, racial inequality, and ethnography. He is the recipient of a MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, and the William Julius Wilson Early Career Award. A contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine, Desmond was listed in 2016 among the Politico 50, as one of “fifty people across the country who are most influencing the national political debate.”


Evicted book stack



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