Someplace Like America: Tales from the New Great Depression

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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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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Pulitzer Prize–winning author and photographer team Maharidge and Williamson continue their heartfelt chronicle of the travails facing America's poor and homeless in this follow-up to the 1995 Journey to Nowhere. Presenting new stories from today's "Great Depression" and updating their accounts of those impoverished during the recession of the '80s and the supposed boom years of the '90s, this book evokes the Depression-era collaboration of Walker Evans and James Agee. Maharidge delves into causes: the pernicious effects of NAFTA; the hollowing-out of the Rust Belt of the Midwest through deindustrialization; a deeply unbalanced tax system in which the middle classes pay a higher proportion of their income than the wealthy, even in the face of ever-skyrocketing pay for CEOs. However, at the core of the narrative are the individuals who've found themselves dispossessed, hopping freight trains to look for work, waiting in food bank lines, huddling in shanties hand-built from scraps and billboard tarps, and mourning the closings of the steel mills where they once worked. Williamson's gritty photographs—of blind storefronts, abandoned lots choked with weeds, faces lined with dirt and worry, stalwart families, and squatters hunched over meager campfires—are an equally eloquent testimonial. (June)
From the Publisher

"Evokes the Depression-era collaboration of Walker Evans and James Agee."--Publishers Weekly

"Deserves high praise . . . . Undeniable relevance to today's American experience."--Foreword

"Maharidge's straightforward-but-impassioned prose and Williamson's gritty black-and white photographs make you angry. They're an indictment."--American Studies

New Yorker - George Packer

"'Someplace Like America' is unrelenting prose. . . . There's something doggedly heroic in this commitment to one of journalism's least glamorous, least remunerative subjects."

“Deserves high praise . . . . Undeniable relevance to today’s American experience.”
American Studies - Joseph B. Atkins

“Maharidge’s straightforward-but-impassioned prose and Williamson’s gritty black-and white photographs make you angry. They’re an indictment.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520262478
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 6/6/2011
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 7.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Dale Maharidge is Associate Professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. He has published seven books, including And Their Children After Them, which won the Pulitzer Prize, and Journey to Nowhere: The Saga of the New Underclass. Michael S. Williamson is a photographer at the Washington Post who has collaborated with Maharidge on many of his books.
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Table of Contents

Foreword by Bruce Springsteen

Someplace Like America: An Introduction
Snapshots from the Road, 2009

Part 1. America Begins a Thirty-Year Journey to Nowhere: The 1980s
1. On Becoming a Hobo
2. Necropolis
3. New Timer
4. Home Sweet Tent
5. True Bottom

Part 2. The Journey Continues: The 1990s
6. Inspiration: The Two-Way Highway
7. Waiting for an Explosion
8. When Bruce Met Jenny

Part 3. A Nation Grows Hungrier: 2
9. Hunger in the Homes
10. The Working Poor: Maggie and the Invisible Children
11. Mr. Murray on Maggie

Part 4. Updating People and Places: The Late 2s
12. Reinduction
13. Necropolis: After the Apocalypse
14. New Timer: Finding Mr. Heisenberg Instead
15. Home Sweet Tent Home
16. Maggie: “Am I Doing the Right Thing?”
17. Maggie on Mr. Murray

Part 5. America with the Lid Ripped Off: The Late 2s
18. Search and Rescue
19. New Orleans Jazz
20. Scapegoats in the Sun
21. The Dark Experiment
22. The Big Boys
23. Anger in Suburban New Jersey

Part 6. Rebuilding Ourselves, Then Taking America on a Journey to Somewhere New
24. Zen in a Crippled New Hampshire Mill Town
25. A Woman of the Soil in Kansas City
26. The Phoenix?
27. Looking Forward—and Back

Acknowledgments and Credits

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2011

    Lacking photos

    Text starts great, goes in circles, slows, picks up again. Subject matter sobering, real. Still haven,t found the pictures.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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