This compelling book takes us to three remote rural areas in the United States to hear the colorful stories of their residents-the poor and struggling, the rich and powerful, and those in between-as they talk about their families and work, the hard times they've known, and their hopes and dreams. Cynthia M. Duncan examines the nature of poverty in Blackwell in Appalachia and in the Mississippi Delta town of Dahlia. She finds in these towns a persistent inequality that erodes the fabric of the community, feeds corrupt politics, and undermines institutions crucial for helping poor families achieve the American Dream. In contrast, New England's Gray Mountain enjoys a rich civic culture that enables the poor to escape poverty. Focusing on the implications of the differences among these communities, the author provides powerful new insights into the dynamics of poverty, politics, and community change.The author conducted 350 in-depth interviews over five years and examined ten decades of U.S. Census data to unravel the ways poverty is perpetuated. Duncan unmasks the lack of basic democracy in poor places, but she also illustrates how a large middle class that supports public investment can make antipoverty and development programs work.
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