Cradle to Grave: Poverty in America

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In this eloquent and revealing book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Freedman offers the first comprehensive view of poverty in a generation, showing us beyond the shadow of any possible doubt that the poor are no longer confined to some Other America or so-called "underclass." Drawing on the true stories of people at every stage of life - infancy, childhood, adolescence, the family, midlife, aging, and dying - he has written a singular book about hardship, about courage, and, in the face of ...
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Overview

In this eloquent and revealing book, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Freedman offers the first comprehensive view of poverty in a generation, showing us beyond the shadow of any possible doubt that the poor are no longer confined to some Other America or so-called "underclass." Drawing on the true stories of people at every stage of life - infancy, childhood, adolescence, the family, midlife, aging, and dying - he has written a singular book about hardship, about courage, and, in the face of incalculable odds, considerable hope. To do so, Freedman went to the people who have been shunned, visiting prenatal clinics, schools, job-training centers, and nursing homes, he asked, "What helps, what hurts, what works?" Their responses give poverty a recognizable human face, as he shows us children struggling to grow up, families fighting to keep their homes, displaced workers seeking training, retirees struggling to age and die with dignity. In his three years of investigating and recording, Freedman also discovered a surprising and, in many cases, heartening number of individuals and organizations already working to eliminate suffering. It is one of this book's achievements to show how innovative programs, funded on shoestring budgets, can help seemingly hopeless people cope with tribulation and transform their lives. Building on lessons from all parts of the country, Freedman suggests further coherent solutions that are affordable in this deficit-conscious era. A major work of reportage, From Cradle to Grave is also a timely, deeply informed call for change.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In a work impressive for the compact and readable way it depicts government's failure to fully support the social needs of its citizens, Freedman, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, has interviewed people across the nation whose experiences he sees as emblematic of the way elected representatives--both federal and local--have not kept faith with their poorer constituents. Often the official answer to need was either indifference or the imposition of a cruel choice--as when a husband had to abandon his family so they could qualify for welfare, or when a family had to dispossess itself of its home to get Medicaid. Starting with prenatal care, the author illustrates how Americans have lacked social support at each stage of life. Freedman has a knack for uncovering the most telling statistics, nailing the legislative events that changed lives and finding the plucky, grassroots programs that have helped the people he describes. What America needs, argues Freedman, is not a safety net but rather a stair railing from birth to old age. Such a support system ``can prevent people from having to fall all the way down the stairs before they get help.'' Freedman offers a sound list of steps governments can take to offer such a railing. (Sept.)
Booknews
Journalist Freedman looks at the lives of some people in America beset by poverty and shows how they've managed to get by with some help from various innovative, responsive programs--programs that could, and should be replicated throughout the nation. No references. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689121265
  • Publisher: Scribner
  • Publication date: 9/28/1993
  • Pages: 352

Table of Contents

Introduction: The Perilous Journey 1
First Step. Prenatal: One Clean Baby 7
Second Step. Infancy: A.J. 33
Third Step. Early Childhood: Jesus Castro 57
Fourth Step. Childhood: Cocooning Butterflies 75
Fifth Step. Adolescence: Coming of Age in America 99
Sixth Step. The Family: Ground Zero of American Poverty 131
Seventh Step. Mid-Life: Lee, Joe Allen, and Jean 163
Top Steps. Retirement, Aging, and Dying: Living Is for the Elderly 185
A Railing Up the Stairs. Life Span: Where They Are Now 205
Index 237
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