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No Pity: People with Disabilities Forging a New Civil Rights Movement

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  413 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
People with disabilities forging the newest and last human rights movement of the century.

From the Trade Paperback edition.
ebook, 400 pages
Published June 22nd 2011 by Broadway Books (first published 1993)
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Sep 19, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hrm. Two not entirely compatible responses here. On the one hand, I want to tell everyone to read this book, because seriously, everyone should read this book. The history of the disability movement is essentially invisible to most Americans, and that's a shame on multiple levels. This book is extremely successful as historical account, from the first stirrings of community consciousness at Berkeley to the sputtering of civil disobedience, the twenty-five day takeover of the San Francisco Federa ...more
Jul 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: disability
I am amazed that this book exists! Reading it a few years ago summed up all of the confused and misplaced feelings of aggression and perplexity that had surrounded my experience as a disabled person. My inner advocate wishes that this was required reading for everyone on the planet. It's tone is direct and clear without being overly preachy or in any way anti-ablebodied. This is an advocacy book that says "here's my experience" rather than attacking yours. Please read it and pass it along.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Required reading for my Disabilities class. I am working on a BA of Human Services degree. I learned that the biggest barriers that people with disabilities face are societal ones that are unfounded. Indeed, our society tends to underestimate what people with disabilities are capable of, treat them as less worthy, and view them as helpless dependents. This book challenges society to view people with disabilities as capable, independent and equal. Indeed, I agree that each person has a unique per ...more
I want to comment on the author's continued use of the term "attendant" even after he wrote that the preferred term was "personal assistant". He acknowledged what the preferred term was and then completely ignored it. He did the same basic thing with the terms "retarded" and "retardation".

The author also repeatedly described disability rights advocates and the movement itself as "militant". Inigo Montoya's famous quote came to mind: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you th
Aug 22, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for my disability advocacy college course and let me just say that no one should be reading or buying this book anymore. It is in extreme need of an updating. There are a lot of glaring inaccuracies from old age that need to be fixed immediately. 70% of autistic people have intellectual disabilities? No, that number is actually 20-25%. The fact that it uses the r-word that's considered a slur instead of "intellectual disability" should get this book tossed in the garbage. Atti ...more
May 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Joseph Shapiro's book is intense at times and wide in breadth but it is the seminal, fundamental work on disability rights. Written as part history, part weaving personal stories of people he encountered while reporting on this story, Joseph Shapiro tells the stories of several groups of people: from experts turned activists, to blind people, to the people that invented Quickies, and most surprisingly the everyday americans that didn't think of themselves as disabled before they were helped by t ...more
This book serves as the first true cultural history of the disability rights movement. Shapiro acts partially as a journalist, historian, and an activist in communicating the ideas and ideologies of the rights movement. In doing so, he provides rich examples of the issues that people with disabilities face, mostly promulgated by terrible legal doctrine combined with an American populace frighteningly unaware of the plight of the disability population.
Jun 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this book for a class I took and it was engaging. There is so much we as society have forgotten about how we treated people that were in any way different. Its rather astonishing to me that we were so quick to alienate anyone who didn't meet our "perfect" criteria.
Tanya Roberts
Oct 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school-assigned
it is not often a school assigned book can enrich and enlighten your entire life. This is a great brief on a variety of movements regarding rights for the disabled and is sure to cause anyone to seriously reflect on their own assumptions and attitudes.
Jan 27, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A must read on disability identity and pride.
I am reading it for a Master's level Multi-cultural class at UNLV.
Michael Thornton
Re-read this great book about the disability advocacy movement and realize that though we have come a long way... there's still a whole lot more to do! #DIANOW Disability Rights ARE Civil Rights!
Dec 08, 2008 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
The story of an underground struggle
Carol Liu
Nov 18, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Required reading for all us TABs hoping to help friends living with a disability.
Feb 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
This was a very informative look at the history of disability rights in the USA up to 1993. The author mostly focuses on the period between 1950 and the passage of the ADA in 1991. He does a thorough job of covering both mental/developmental disabilities and physical disabilities, as well as the Deaf culture (which is still considered a disability to some, but not to others). It was interesting to me to see how far we have come in the last 20 years, and yet how far we still have to go. It was al ...more
This book was purchased for a graduate level course of disability studies as a required textbook. Joseph Shapiro focuses on the many struggles that individuals with disabilities face, however he approaches them as a journalist and not as a person with personal experience( he does not have a disability as per his own words) . His perspective is focusing on disability in terms of a new civil rights movement. He frequently compares disability to the struggles of African-American civil rights and th ...more
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a gem of a book this is. It has been sitting on my shelf for quite some time and I am so glad I finally read it. This book gives the history of the civil rights movement in relation to people with disabilities. It was eye opening for me even though I knew much of the history, I really didn't grasp the implications and enormity of this movement. I loved the stories of people living and fighting on the front lines and for many it has been a life and death battle to fight for their rights. It ...more
David Kirschner
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book about the history of the disability rights movement. It feels a bit dated since it was written in the early '90s after the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, but it provides an historical window into the times. Back when people with disabilities had just won the right to fly on airplanes, back before public buses had wheelchair lifts, when people were fighting to have ramps installed in building entrances. There are a lot of stories of key people in the movement and stori ...more
Feb 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book. For a while I had wanted to read something about the disability rights movement that really covered all the history and stuff and this really hit the spot. It's really depressing the way disabled people have been treated in this country and the way they have been neglected by institutions of power as well as just being straightforwardly abused. There are some stories in here which will make your hair curl.
My only objection with the book happens to be with some areas of the
Michael Burnam-Fink
Nov 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, disabilities
This is one of the core books of the disabilities rights movement, an exhilarating journalistic account of the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and several magazine length accounts of the lives of people with disabilities. Shapiro makes it clear again and again that the biggest barrier to people with disabilities living a worthwhile life on their own terms are not their impairments, or even the built environment, but social prejudice and a welfare system that funnels money to expe ...more
patrycja polczyk
Feb 07, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is really good stuff for anyone interested in rights of people with disabilities. There are many informations and stories about how those civil rights were fought for in USA. I'd say it's a book that should be read by everyone, it's quite an eye-opener. For me - as a both person with disability and researcher - this book is really important. And it has show me many things in a new light. The chapter about right to dying was incredibly powerful. But point is - this book tells a story of ...more
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
As others have noted, it would be great to see an updated version of this book. Nonetheless, I think this book is fantastic. It's the story of the Disability Civil Rights movement. There's so much I did not know.

It made me feel:
- annoyed with Rosa Parks
- pleasantly surprised at George Bush (HW not W)
- angry
- impressed
- like doing something to help make things better.

I am so thankful for the people in this world who are born with souls and personalities that prepare them to fight for what's righ
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, 2014
Lots of great information. At times, it read more like a bunch of shorter articles placed near each other, rather than a cohesive whole, but this book is a great look at the movement to ensure equal rights for people with disabilities.

Favorite quotes:

Re: Southbury Training School: "I remember what they were like, and what we, the staff, thought about their abilities. Now I see them in a whole different way, as colleagues and friends...I'm not sure if they grew, or if we just grew in the way we l
Stefany Boleyn
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, nonfiction
An excellent read for anyone who is interested in disability rights. It takes you through the formation of the ADA, talks about the People First movement, teaches you about Deaf culture, mental disabilities, physical disabilities, people who have helped foster the disability rights movement, and shows you that people with disabilities have no time for pity. Great read; highly recommended.
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I finally finished this book! The background of the disability movement and how the ADA came to be was fascinating, but this book desperately needs an update. The portions about technology, for example, reflect the fact that the book is over 20 years old. Despite the important message, I found the writing style to be too dry to keep my interest (clearly).
Sep 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book felt like a good beginner primer on disability rights. It covered the bases on people with disabilities demanding respect, and went through a history of various disability rights achievements (many of which I had not read about before). Highly recommend it to people who want to learn more about the issue.

Feb 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For a book that was required for a class - it was really good! I learned a lot about disabilities and the government issues. It was very interesting and the knowledge I now have from the book will carry with me for the rest of my life. Especially since I will be working in the medical field where disabilities are not uncommon.
Rachel Polacek
This book gave me some really good insight to the Disability Rights Movement, but overall I was really depressed reading it. However, I guess that the message trying to be conveyed is that there is a struggle, and these people have to work hard to be given the respect and treatment they deserve, and even after so much effort, they still don't get it.
Sep 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its a realistic book. If you want to really understand how people with disabilities are treated in this society from yesterday till today, read this book. It gives you a historical, social and political background of the disability rights movement.
Sep 22, 2009 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Wealhtheow by: Lightreads
Shelves: 6th-floor
"this book is extremely valuable as a survey introduction, and an exercise in consciousness raising. And for that alone, I praise it. But its utility is limited. An excellent place to start and a terrible place to stop, is what I'm saying."--Lightreads
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Joseph P. Shapiro is a science journalist, currently an NPR correspondent.
More about Joseph P. Shapiro...
“disabilities. In colonial America, the settlement of a vast new rural society meant that early colonists put a premium on physical stamina. The early colonies tried to prevent the immigration of those who could not support themselves and would have to rely on state help. People with physical or mental disabilities who were potentially dependent could be deported, forced to return to England.” 0 likes
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