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Someplace Like America

Tales from the New Great Depression, Updated Edition with a New Preface and Afterword

Dale Maharidge (Author), Bruce Springsteen (Foreword), Michael S. Williamson (Photographer)

Available worldwide

Paperback, 276 pages
ISBN: 9780520274518
May 2013
$24.95, £16.95
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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.
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.
"'Someplace Like America' is unrelenting prose. . . . There's something doggedly heroic in this commitment to one of journalism's least glamorous, least remunerative subjects."—George Packer New Yorker
T”he 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.”—Publishers Weekly
“[The authors] show us a new kind of desperation. . . . Maharidge’s straightforward-but-impassioned prose and Williamson’s gritty black-and white photographs make you angry. They’re an indictment.”—Joseph B. Atkins, University of Mississippi American Studies
“Deserves high praise . . . . Undeniable relevance to today’s American experience.”—Foreword
“Through powerful essays and haunting photographs we experience how typical middle class Americans have endured job loss, poverty and homelessness.”—Dayton Daily News
“The evening (and morning and 24 hour) news spends a great deal of time on the American economy, but watching well dressed and perfectly groomed anchors talk about statistics, show political sound bites, and interview down on their luck families just isn’t the same as reading Dale Maharidge’s words or looking at Michael S. Williamson’s photographs. I’m not certain if I can exactly explain why, but there’s something so real about this book that sometimes it hurts. Maybe it’s because Maharidge gets angry or maybe it’s because Maharidge and Williamson get so close to their ‘subjects’, but whatever the reason, the reality is tangible and, at times, painful.”—Popmatters.com
“The evening (and morning and 24 hour) news spends a great deal of time on the American economy, but watching well dressed and perfectly groomed anchors talk about statistics, show political sound bites, and interview down on their luck families just isn’t the same as reading Dale Maharidge’s words or looking at Michael S. Williamson’s photographs. I’m not certain if I can exactly explain why, but there’s something so real about this book that sometimes it hurts. Maybe it’s because Maharidge gets angry or maybe it’s because Maharidge and Williamson get so close to their ‘subjects’, but whatever the reason, the reality is tangible and, at times, painful.”—Raw Signal Music
“Maharidge uses decades of reporting to deliver a potent picture of what's going on in the United States' forgotten communities, to help us understand that the economic downturn isn't something that can be read on a page full of charts. The really wonderful thing about the book is that it's not just a cavalcade of ruin porn -- it's very honest about the hardships that the working poor face on a daily basis, but it shines as bright a light on the resilience that Maharidge ultimately hopes will be everyone's salvation. You'll meet some really interesting people, and get to experience what is really a legitimate journalistic adventure. . . . It comes with a huge clutch of Michael Williamsons excellent photojournalism as well, and you don't want to cheat yourself of that, either.”—Jason Linkins Huffington Post
“Maharidge and Williamson deliver a heart-wrenching and thought-provoking work. . . . Williamson’s stunning black-and-white photographs span three decades and capture pockets of a crumbling America that few have witnessed. He and Maharidge give a much-needed voice to the people who continue to fall through the cracks—people who want neither your pity nor your politics as they fight to survive and to regain a sense of pride in themselves and in their nation.”—Santa Fe New Mexican/ Pasatiempo
“Essential study and haunting photography of the devastated working class heart of America since Reagan.”—Bookseller Buyer’s Guide Bookseller Buyer’s Guide
“Someplace Like America is unrelenting prose, not poetry, but what the book lacks in intimacy it makes up for in breadth and persistence. There's something doggedly heroic in this commitment to one of journalism's least glamorous, least remunerative subjects.”
–George Packer, The New Yorker

“These boys saw the floorboards giving out while the rest of America danced in the pig and whistle. Maharidge and Williamson have a document here that may be even more important in a generation than it is today.”—Charlie LeDuff, author of Work and Other Sins: Life in New York City and Thereabouts

“Through the voices and stories of working-class people, Maharidge and Williamson provide insight into the current situation, reminding us of the history of economic struggle and the importance of understanding our culture from the bottom up.” —John Russo, co-author of Steeltown U.S.A.: Work and Memory in Youngstown

“This is a deeply felt and beautifully crafted book. Maharidge and Williamson are brave and clear-eyed in chronicling the struggle of America’s workers.” —Todd DePastino, author of Citizen Hobo: How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America

"In this moving and urgent book, Maharidge and Williamson continue to dig through the social wreckage of three decades of economic plunder, courageously documenting the uprooted and displaced, the uncertain and the fearful. Someplace Like America peers into the dark heart of a society that has turned its back on working people--and that may be on the cusp of abandoning its dignity as well. In the smoldering occupational ruins of what once was, Maharidge also manages to find hopeful embers of what might one day be. A disturbing retrospective on twenty-five years of reporting on the long-term dissolution of the American dream." —Jefferson Cowie, Cornell University, author of Stayin' Alive: The 1970s and the Last Days of the Working Class



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