chewing ideas down to stubble, then moving on…

Book Review: Poor People by William T. Vollmann

Posted by Jason on December 5, 2008

poorpeopleThis was an excellent and eye-opening picture of poverty throughout the world. I hesitate to say that I enjoyed the book, taking the subject matter into account, but it was very enlightening and I’m glad that I read it. Vollmann takes an interesting approach in his discussion of poverty. Instead of merely exposing all the different cesspools of mind-crushingly poor people through the world, the author basically assumes that it’s well-known that this stuff exists. He then talks with all different levels of poor people and asks the questions like, “Are you poor?” and “Why are you poor?” The answers drive the narration and provide a unique perspective on just what it means to be poor in various spots throughout our world.

The distinctions between different levels of poverty that we Americans just think of as “dirt-poor” or the lowest of the low was very interesting to me. Vollmann does not shy away from people who engage in behavior that might be considered unethical or illegal, since those in poverty often must resort to means of survival that lie outside the boundaries of our monied rules. This is a must-read for anyone who works in domestic or foreign relief organizations, or anyone who thinks their life sucks and they want an “It could be worse…” experience.


One Response to “Book Review: Poor People by William T. Vollmann”

  1. Schevus said

    I will have to add this to my list. I just finished The End Of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs, which was also an excellent book that discusses the merits of increased foreign aid. I have Banker To The Poor by Muhammed Yunus lined up next. It is about micro-lending and the Grameen Bank.

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