Doing the Best I Can: Fatherhood in the Inner City

Overview


?This warm and often moving book cuts through the rampant stereotypes and misconceptions to give us the most insightful treatment yet of fatherhood in the inner city. Nelson and Edin are to be congratulated.??Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and former op-ed columnist for The New York Times.

?With a clear-eyed honesty and frankness, Edin and Nelson probe the experiences of fathers among our urban poor, and what they discover is both surprising and hopeful. Edin and Nelson should be applauded for...

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Overview


“This warm and often moving book cuts through the rampant stereotypes and misconceptions to give us the most insightful treatment yet of fatherhood in the inner city. Nelson and Edin are to be congratulated.”—Bob Herbert, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos and former op-ed columnist for The New York Times.

“With a clear-eyed honesty and frankness, Edin and Nelson probe the experiences of fathers among our urban poor, and what they discover is both surprising and hopeful. Edin and Nelson should be applauded for their bold on-the-ground research which pushes us to consider that men whose lives are often marked by disorder having children can often be a stabilizing force. Doing the Best I Can turns many of our assumptions about fatherhood on their head.” —Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here

"Doing the Best I Can will change the way we think about unwed fatherhood in the inner city. The book, based on in-depth interviews with low-income black and white fathers in Camden NJ and Philadelphia, is a real page-turner. Nelson and Edin’s well-written narratives on the lives of low-income fathers, their role as fathers, and relationships with their children are replete with fresh insights. This compelling book is a must-read."—William Julius Wilson, Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor, Harvard University

“I am confident that this book will instantly become the leading source of information on the nature of unwed fatherhood today. It shows a new path of intimate life for unwed young men, suggesting that marriage is no longer central in low-income young adults’ intimate partnerships. It will be an eye-opener, a detailed portrait we have not seen before.”—Andrew Cherlin, Johns Hopkins University

“This book smashes the stereotype of poor dads as the ‘hit and run’ or ‘deadbeat’ men who care only about casual sex and have no interest in the resulting kids. It is also unflinchingly honest about the sometimes egregious behavior of the men. Its poignant narratives and astute analysis make it the book to read on poor fathers.”—Paula England, New York University
 

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Social commentators as diverse as Bill Cosby, Louis Farrakhan, and Gloria Steinem have lamented the absence of fathers in the lives of inner-city children. In contrast, Edin (public policy & management; Promises I Can Keep) and Nelson (social policy; Every Time I Feel the Spirit), both at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, present a study of unwed urban fathers, without nostalgia, judgment, or irony. Based on 110 interviews conducted in Camden, NJ, and Philadelphia, the book offers an unflinching examination of how these men view children, families, romantic relationships, and the world around them. While the authors highlight patterns, set the interviews against trends, and contrast their subjects with two-dimensional portraits in the media, there is limited explanation or theorizing. Foremost, this is a chronicle of perspectives from "disadvantaged fathers living in a struggling rustbelt metropolis at the turn of the twenty-first century." VERDICT This thoroughly researched and well-crafted study analyzes how these men view their lives, actions, and family bonds. Similar to William Julius Wilson's When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor, now over ten years old, it will appeal to readers interested in focused surveys of urban life. Those who prefer an approach that's long on theory or policy solutions may be disappointed.—Ahmer Qadeer, Brooklyn
The Washington Post/WonkBlog - Harold Pollack

"An essential book."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520274068
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/2013
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 294
  • Sales rank: 383,452
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author


Kathryn Edin is Professor of Public Policy and Management at the Kennedy School of Government and a Faculty Affiliate with the Sociology Department at Harvard University. She is the coauthor of Promises I Can Keep: Why Poor Women Put Motherhood Before Marriage and Making Ends Meet: How Low Income Single Mothers Survive Welfare and Low Wage Work.
Timothy Nelson is Lecturer in Social Policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He is the author of Every Time I Feel the Spirit: Religious Experience and Ritual in an African American Church.
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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments

Introduction
1. One Thing Leads to Another
2. Thank You, Jesus
3. The Stupid Shit
4. Ward Cleaver
5. Sesame Street Mornings
6. Fight or Flight
7. Try, Try Again
8. The New Package Deal

Appendix
Notes
References
Index

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