Down and Out, on the Road

Down and Out, on the Road : The Homeless in American History

3.92 (27 ratings by Goodreads)
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Covering the entire period from the colonial era to the late twentieth century, this book is the first scholarly history of the homeless in America. Drawing on sources that include records of charitable organizations, sociological studies, and numerous memoirs of formerly homeless persons, Kusmer demonstrates that the homeless have been a significant presence on the American scene for over two hundred years. He probes the history of homelessness from a variety of angles, showing why people become homeless; how charities and public authorities dealt with this social problem; and the diverse ways in which different class, ethnic, and racial groups perceived and responded to homelessness. Kusmer demonstrates that, despite the common perception of the homeless as a deviant group, they have always had much in common with the average American. Focusing on the millions who suffered downward mobility, Down and Out, On the Road provides a unique view of the evolution of American society and raises disturbing questions about the repeated failure to face and solve the problem of homelessness.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 344 pages
  • 152 x 226 x 24mm | 559.99g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 10pp halftones and numerous figures
  • 0195160967
  • 9780195160963
  • 2,079,027

Review quote

"Homelessness is not only a contemporary phenomenon in the U.S. according to this well-researched and engrossing history.... Kusmer is at his best when describing the specifics of people's lives...drawing upon sociological studies, reports from charitable institutions, the novels of William Dean Howells and Stephen Crane, and the music of blues writer and singer Ida Cox, Kusmer has produced a book that is highly engaging, emotionally absorbing, and historically
consequential."-Publishers Weekly Anyone who thinks homelessness only hit record levels over the past two decades needs to read this book. History does repeat itself when it comes to homelessness and how society responds to it. Today's "war on homelessness and welfare recipients" has historical parallels.-Michael Stoops, National Coalition for the Homeless "one of the most fascinating books I've ever read"-Martin F. Nolan, The San Francisco Examiner "It is a pleasure to announce that the homeless, who have so little else, have at least gained in Kenneth L. Kusmer's excellent Down and out, on the Road, a history of their own."-Barbara Ehrenreich, The New York Times Book Review
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About Kenneth L. Kusmer

Kenneth L. Kusmer is Professor of History at Temple University.
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Rating details

27 ratings
3.92 out of 5 stars
5 33% (9)
4 33% (9)
3 26% (7)
2 7% (2)
1 0% (0)
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