Many books have been written about poverty in America. As part of the Shadow Conventions 2012, we've talked to experts across the country, in academia and thinktanks, authors and an Occupy Wall Street librarian, to track down the best reads about this serious and growing problem in the richest country on earth.

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  • So Rich, So Poor: Why it's so hard to end Poverty in America by Peter Edelman

    "Former top advisor to Senator Robert F. Kennedy, Clinton administration official as well as lifelong antipoverty advocate Peter Edelman writes a cogent analysis of how a country with a GDP over $15 trillion can have such an outsized number of unemployed and working poor. He proposes solutions to combat 21st century poverty in the U.S." -- Mary Lassen, managing director of the Center for Community Change "In "So Rich, So Poor" Peter explores the problem of poverty in the richest country the world has ever known, describing how a proliferation of low-wage work, a retrenchment of social investments, and a concentration of economic and political power at the top have presented obstacles to tackling a solvable problem. Edelman gleans lessons from a long-look back at our efforts to cut poverty in America but also offers a long-look forward, exploring key policy solutions we'd need to enact and reminding us that poverty is a political problem that can be solved if we build the political will." -- Melissa Boteach, Director, Half in Ten and Poverty & Prosperity Program, Center for American Progress

  • Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Piercy

    "A speculative fiction genre feminist classic that is mostly noted for it's visions of possible futures, but which also illustrates realities of urban poverty, especially highlighting dilemmas faced by women and people of color and a racist, sexist, classist medical system." -- Jaime Taylor, People's Librarian at Occupy Wall Street

  • The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot

    "One of modern medicine's greatest contributions came from a poor Black woman who wasn't even given the opportunity to consent; despite her unwitting gift to humanity, which has certainly been profitable for those who've worked with the HeLa cells, neither she nor many of her descendants could afford to access the very medical advances she inspired, as the USA's medical system remains strictly for-profit." -- Jaime Taylor, People's Librarian at Occupy Wall Street

  • All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America by Joel Berg

    "Hunger isn't funny, but in "All You Can Eat: How Hungry is America" Joel Berg manages to engage the reader in a critique of the conditions that create and sustain hunger in the United States, with humor and clever analysis. A passionate advocate, Berg explores the reasons we haven't yet solved the solvable problem of hunger in America, and offers pragmatic solutions on mobilizing the necessary resources to tackle this issue once and for all." -- Melissa Boteach, Director, Half in Ten and Poverty & Prosperity Program, Center for American Progress

  • Changing Poverty, Changing Policies, Edited by Maria Cancian and Sheldon Danziger

    "This is the latest comprehensive survey of poverty and policy with 13 great chapters on all aspects of poverty research--health, education, income support, employment, etc." -- Timothy M. Smeeding, Director, Institute for Research on Poverty

  • Nickel and Dimed : On (Not) Getting By in America by Barbara Ehrenreich

    "Minimum wage is definitely not a living wage, even though millions of Americans live on it -- if they are lucky enough to find a job (or two) -- as shown by Ehrenreich's narrative of the couple years she spent in the underpaid & exploited classes." -- Jaime Taylor, People's Librarian at Occupy Wall Street

  • The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future by Joseph E. Stiglitz

    "Stiglitz examines how the balance of rich and poor in America has become so pronounced and his book examines how the wealthy wield their financial influence with lawmakers to shape American politics, giving them more economic power that does not take into account the needs of the poor." -- Mary Lassen, managing director of the Center for Community Change

  • The Great Recession, Edited by David Grusky, Bruce Western, and Christopher Wimer

    "Poverty, inequality, wealth, employment effects and more about the Great Recession." -- Timothy M. Smeeding, Director, Institute for Research on Poverty

  • From Parents to Children: The Intergenerational Transmission of Advantage, Edited by John Ermisch, Markus Jantti, and Timothy Smeeding

    "How mobile are poor children? Look inside and find out from a comprehensive cross national perspective." -- Timothy M. Smeeding, Director, Institute for Research on Poverty

  • Wealth & Welfare States: Is America a Laggard or a Leader?, Edited by Irwin Garfinkel, Lee Rainwater, and Timothy Smeeding

    "How big or small is the U.S. welfare state compared to other nations and does it help the poor, or all Americans?" -- Timothy M. Smeeding, Director, Institute for Research on Poverty

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