"A People's History of Poverty and Welfare in America" told through the eyes and experiences of the poor


Stephen Pimpare, author of "A People's History of Poverty and Welfare in America," will speak at Fairfield University on Thursday, Feb. 26 at 4 p.m. in Bellarmine Hall's Diffley Room The newly published book is a sweeping, revealing history of poverty in America from the 19th century to today, told through the eyes and experiences of the poor themselves. Pimpare is expected to comment on poverty and welfare in America and the impact the new administration might have. Admission is free and the public is welcome.

Bryan Craig, writing in The Library Journal, had high praise for the book, saying "Pimpare has written a concise and distinctive bottom-up history, arguing that there are myths about America's poor that have been around since our country's founding. Some of the myths include the belief that being poor is a moral failure and that the poor are lazy, buy too many "luxury" items, and have more children just to stay on welfare. Pimpare knocks down these myths one by one, lifting us from our ignorance in the process. The book's strength is the use of firsthand accounts from the poor, but while this is not a comprehensive history of policy, policy is not ignored."

Kirkus Reviews points out that Pimpare demonstrates that "aspects of poverty are strongly correlated to ethnicity, health, education and many other markers. Substantial numbers of the poor today, as in the past, are homeless; Pimpare reckons that some '14 percent of all Americans are homeless at least once,' a count augmented by returning veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan."

An Associate Professor of Political Science and Social Work at Yeshiva University, Pimpare is a former executive director of Artists to End Hunger and New York's Food & Hunger Hotline. He is also the author of "The New Victorians: Poverty, Politics and Propaganda in Two Gilded Ages" (2004) and is currently at work on "The Celluloid Poorhouse: Poverty in American Film."

Pimpare's talk at Fairfield University is being presented by the Department of Politics and the Program in Peace and Justice Studies with co-sponsorship by the Center for Catholic Studies, the Just-Us Residential College, Program in Black Studies and the Departments of History and Sociology and Anthropology.

A book signing and reception will follow in the Great Hall from 5:15 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on February 5, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 191