Hilfiker, a white doctor who has worked with homeless and HIV-positive men in Washington, D.C., for nearly 20 years, begins by noting, "[W]hen most Americans think about poverty, or see the poor on television, or read about them in the newspapers, the images are of poor black men hanging around the street corner, poor black teenagers selling drugs, poor black single mothers living on welfare, poor black inner-city schools failing their children." Yet only 12% of the nation's poor are African-American, according to his extrapolation from the 2000 census. In a calm, thoughtful yet impassioned voice, Hilfiker sets out to explain why this state of affairs persists, tracing the failure of programs to alleviate poverty, from Reconstruction through the New Deal to the contemporary battles over welfare. He is even brave enough to suggest solutions for the end of poverty and ghettos, to "remove this stain upon our American democracy." This accessible, clearly written book includes an excellent annotated bibliography and may inspire ordinary people to work toward full desegregation of our society. (Sept. 25) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Hilfiker is a compassionate white doctor who has spent more than two decades living with the poor and practicing "poverty medicine" in Washington, DC. He began doctoring with the premise that with sufficient "strengthening" he could turn his patients' lives around. This book represents his exploration of that failed premise and his answer to why African American poverty is intransigent and structural. He includes an especially good chapter on welfare history, including the 1960s "skirmish" on poverty. The last chapter suggests very practical public policies and budgets that could win a real war on poverty if the United States would surmount the political problems inherent in it. Hilfiker's two previous books, the prize-winning Healing the Wounds and Not All of Us Are Saints, are reflections on a doctor's work and patients. Clear and authoritative without being academic, this title is good reading for those who don't want to wade into texts by William Julius Wilson or Michael B. Katz, leading scholars of similar proclivity. Recommended for public libraries and for high school and college students. Janice Dunham, John Jay Coll. Lib., CUNY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.