A lucid and scathing explanation for one of our nation’s abiding injustices ... Desmond’s new book is primarily a polemic. It is impeccably researched and bolstered by seventy-six pages of dense notes—those seeking further source material will certainly find it—but Desmond wishes to influence a broad swath of American readers, not an academic coterie ... Desmond’s book makes an urgent and unignorable appeal to our national conscience, one that has been quietly eroded over decades of increasing personal consumption and untiring corporate greed.
It’s brave, in a way, that Desmond has chosen such a different approach for his bracing new book ... More manifesto than narrative, Poverty, by America is urgent and accessible. It’s also austere. There aren’t many stories about individuals ... A slim book, at fewer than three hundred pages of text, but it’s packed with revelations ... An appealingly ad-hoc and flexible approach.
A compact jeremiad on the persistence of extreme want in a nation of extraordinary wealth, a distillation into argument form of the message embedded within the narrative of Evicted ... Desmond’s ideological allies on the left will nod along with many of these points. Where things get more interesting is when he considers the ways that upper-middle-class Americans, many of them proud progressives, are complicit in the taking ... Desmond’s case might have been strengthened by a more considered structuring and tone; at moments, the book can feel somewhat dashed off ... But these are minor quibbles — a ragged edge is to be expected from a book that amounts to more manifesto than treatise.