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The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  793 ratings  ·  106 reviews
Record unemployment and rampant corporate avarice, empty houses but homeless families, dwindling opportunities in an increasingly paralyzed nation—these are the realities of 21st-century America, land of the free and home of the new middle class poor. Award-winning broadcaster Tavis Smiley and Dr. Cornel West, one of the nation’s leading democratic intellectuals, co-hosts ...more
Paperback, 222 pages
Published April 17th 2012 by SmileyBooks
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Average rating 3.84  · 
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May 09, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
It's a sad fact that the only people who read books like this are those that don't need to be. It’s just good old fashioned preaching to the choir. It's a sadder fact that the people who need to read this book the most never will. They're too busy voting against their own economic interests.

A few years ago as I would drive to work in the morning there'd be a group of "yes to prop 8" people gathered with their signs and their children and their idiocy, asking cars to honk in agreement to banning
Stephanie *Extremely Stable Genius*
I read most of it, but I really couldn't rally myself to get to the finish line with this one.

I'm not sure why. I really like Tavis Smiley and there was loads of good information in the book.....

Jun 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
As i have great respect for both of the authors of this book, and they are both talented orators, i was really looking forward to reading this. Unfortunately, i think they knocked it out over a beer or two, or perhaps had their favorite college kids do it; it is sloppy, redundant, all over the place. Their ideas for solutions never quite make it to profound - still using gushy platitudes and bandaid attempts to fix an irretrievably broken system. The very real crisis of "the rich and the rest of ...more
Finally finished this book, and I certainly was moved. At the end of the day, I do have some mixed feelings about the book. This is not due to the content. It is just that it is the kind of book that the choir will pretty much pick up, nod in agreement, and then move on, and the clueless will just completely miss. I get the feeling that the people who really should be reading this book will either miss it or ignore it. After all, pointing out that poverty exists and calling out those actually re ...more
Naomi V
May 13, 2012 rated it liked it
i’ve longed admired Cornell West (in spite of his religiosity – he at least seems to embody what most christians claim to be, which is empathetic, kind, forgiving, etc. anybody that can refer to “brother rush” [Limbaugh] without making a gagging sound is a truly open and loving person.)

the book is full of history and statistics, graphs and charts; but it has a very personal aspect to it as well as the authors quote real people who have lost their jobs, their homes, and their hope since 2008. th
Edward Sullivan
May 31, 2012 rated it really liked it
If you are familiar with the work of West and Smiley, nothing in this book will surprise you. It is an impassioned, sincere call to action, nothing less than the eradication of poverty in America. The profiles of some of the desperately poor people they met on their poverty tour are heartbreaking, and the historical analysis of how government has gradually abandoned anti-poverty programs over the past few decades is deeply troubling. West and Smiley call for a new society of compassion, fairness ...more
Last summer, media personality Tavis Smiley and Professor Cornell West undertook a 'poverty tour' of ten or eleven states, video taping as they went, and reporting on what they found on their radio program. I followed their tour intently, and I was very moved by the stories of the people they met along the way. I am interested in poverty; I think the issue is of the greatest importance in our nation, and in the world, and I am saddened that--quite literally--these are the only two people in the ...more
Carol Dickerson
Feb 07, 2013 rated it it was ok
If you are looking for a book to give your conservative brother-in-law to convince him that his judgments about the poor in the U.S. and governmental priorities need reexamination, this is not it. I was hoping it might be, but it's just a sloppy book in need of a good editor. The authors throw in some barely legible graphics of poverty statistics and a thin sprinkling of narratives of real poor people they met on their "Poverty Tour." But there are not enough narratives to balance the repetitive ...more
Mitch C.
Jun 22, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: rant-and-rave
Seems fitting to read this when the world is constantly battling Covid and the poor outcome it did, and still does, in everyone’s life here on Earth. Though, this book has nothing to do with current events, but as we all know, history repeats itself. Somehow it just differ how it repeats.

While I’m lucky enough to be living in a rich (façade or not) country that fights the pandemic rampantly and brings back its economy relentlessly, I asked myself; what happened to the rich magnates. How are the
Jan 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I had the chance to see Tavis Smiley and Cornel West speak on the topic of poverty tonight (January 18th 2013) and decided to buy the book so I could get it signed after the talk and I ended up finishing it in just a few hours- once I started I definitely didn't want to put it down.

The layout of the book is really nice- the information is well-organized, although the last section of the book- The Poverty Manifesto- seemed a bit redundant. It was broken up into 2 parts- the basic manifesto where
Brianna Wright
Jul 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this book! I caught Tavis Smiley on an episode of Carson Daly and quickly requested it from my library. I waited for close to three months for it to fill my hold and it was well worth the wait! I read the entire thing in one night and then ended up going to buy my own copy because I found I wanted to high light important pieces and write my own notes on topics.

Tavis Smiley and Cornel West break down the horrific facts of the poverty that literally is silently plaguing our countr
Feb 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I agree wholeheartedly with the major premise of the book: to change poverty we must first change the language we use to think and communicate about poverty. Drawing parallels with the civil rights movement, the gay rights movement, and the women's liberation movement the authors insist that change beginsby aanalyzing the stigmas and connotations and images conjured in our current lexicon. Since the great recession has impoverished so many many formerly hard working middle class Americans we mus ...more
Sam Orndorff
Jun 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
YES. yes yes yes. Cornel West is my hero. And that's a bold statement, coming from a true cynic. Tavis is also a hero of mine. If it weren't for their compassion and encouragement I would not be able to contain my rage about the assault on the poor. Hearing their weekly radio show is the only reason I don't have to go to church. And I'm an atheist so you know I have no moral barometer, every godless day brings me one step closer to murdering a dozen lobbyists. Smiley & West bring me peace in thi ...more
May 30, 2012 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the book. I found it to be completely relevant, factual, and it added a historical lends (what can I say? i love history). With that being said, I did have some issues with the book. A better structure to the book would have helped. Some of the things they talked about toward the last one-third of the book should have been in the beginning. I think readers would have been better served if the authors had provided the old (20th century) definition of "the middle-class" and "the working ...more
Aug 26, 2012 rated it liked it
Two great minds with so much wisdom and yet I got the impression that this book was hastily written and produced. (Typos?!) Read the actual poverty manifesto, it's chapter 7 I think, and you will find the most valuable parts of this book. Suitable for high schoolers and up. Helpful stats and anecdotes throughout, though failed to enlighten or inspire me as their brilliant show and live lectures do. Good material for reflection during the upcoming election.
Oct 11, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
Mind you, I don't mind reading statistics and percentages...but I think the average person would be quickly disenchanted with this (similar to my review of Jesse Ventura's book). Nevertheless, this was still an informative book and a quick read, and I appreciated the fact that the authors criticized both political parties, although I did feel at certain points in the book that they were endorsing one political party.
Apr 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I LOVED THIS BOOK; I couldn't put it down! Such an easy read- it clearly explains difficult topics and has several charts and graphs to illustrate the history of poverty in the US. I have a better understanding of our current economic crisis after reading this book and feel even more informed to defend those living in poverty when I hear people playing the blame game.
Katie Boyd
Jul 11, 2012 rated it it was ok
Disappointed. The content is fine, but more for motivating speeches or the like. I didn't feel like I was learning anything, or getting a different or more in-depth view of the situation. I felt like I was listening to a motivational speech. A good one. But not what I'm looking for in a full book.
Scott Helms
Dec 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
Poverty and income inequality are REAL.
This book is a call to action to remedy the ills of the poor, near poor, and working poor that came at the hands of the financial crisis and every presidential administration since Reagan.
Aug 20, 2012 rated it it was ok
Preaching to the choir...
Jun 23, 2020 added it
Shelves: 2012-13
The Rich and The Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto, a collaborative work by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, constructs a portrait of poverty in the United States today that is at once disheartening as well as inspiring and empowering. Based on the authors’ 3 week “Poverty Tour: A Call to Conscience”, which traversed the country to engage with individuals struggling with poverty and to meet with activists and nonprofits confronting the issue on various fronts,this book balances emotional testimonies ...more
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, 2019
If you decide not to read the Manifesto, fine. At the very least, read John Scalzi's September 2005 entry, "Being Poor" - it won't even take you a full 5-minutes. Promise. Or less than 30 seconds below...

Being poor is:
- six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.
- crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.
- knowing you work as hard as anyone, anywhere.
- people surprised to discover you’re not actually stupid.
- people surprised to discover you’re not actually laz
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is a great look of all the things most of us can already see bits and pieces of. It's very factual and points out exactly what is the problem and why and how it has gotten this bad. While a little outdated nearly 8 years later it is still extremely relevant to matters today. I think this is something everyone should read.
stephanie ann rosendorf
Great and quick read

I really enjoyed this book. If you're a fellow bookworm and are at all interested in poverty law, policy, and practice, you won't want to put this down.
Rafael Suleiman
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
A very good book dealing with the wealth inequality in America.
Apr 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
In the back of my mind I wondered "Is this book going to make me feel guilty about having a job and existing while others are suffering considerably?" However, I wanted to understand what the argument was and am glad to say it's far from any guilt propaganda, but rather educational and humane reading.

I won't break down details because anyone who is inclined to read this ought to, for themselves. But here were some things that surprised me:

1. The idea that "poverty" does not look the same as it
Oct 22, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: junk
First of all, this is a highly localized book. It is made for the people in the US and now. 50 years from now it would look ridiculous or hysterical.

Than there is hardly any reason in these pages. But there is emotion. And some numbers and graphs to puzzle the ones who are not content only with the emotion.

It is a shallow book. A preacher book. Christianity in its pure form, just without mentioning the deity.

And it is a pity to mess up such an issue just to make a long sermon and a revival tour.
Reid Mccormick
Oct 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
I got to see Cornel West speak back in 2008, and even though I did not see eye to eye with him on a few issues, I could not deny his energy, passion, and charisma. Ever since then I have followed Cornel West's career. I have read a number of his articles and have watched several interviews of him.

I know he has written numerous best-selling books, but I was never sure which one I should start with. I finally saw The Rich and the Rest of Us written by Cornel West and media personality Tavis Smiley
May 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I wanted to read this because of all the (really negative!) dialogue regarding "the rich," "the poor," "class warfare," "welfare bums," "Occupy Wall Street," "the 99%" so on and so forth. This book is a summary of the current (2012) state of poverty in America, how it relates to the rise and fall of poverty throughout the nation's history, and how we might try to mobilize the nation as a whole to reduce or eliminate some of the desperation people are in now.

The title and summary led me to believ
Jun 16, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
The majority of reasons that I liked this book is that I agree with the political ideas behind it. The authors do a good job of bringing in statistics to support the points made.

However, a better editor would have come in handy. This is not the book to hand to a fiscal conservative and say "See! I am right!!!1!" which is too bad, because we are. There is more to being poor than even most middle class Americans realize. And that is a travesty because if these trends continue, we are all about to
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Tavis Smiley is a talk show host, author, political commentator, entrepreneur, advocate and philanthropist. Smiley grew up in Kokomo, Indiana. After attending Indiana University, he worked during the late 1980s as an aide to Tom Bradley, the mayor of Los Angeles. Smiley became a radio commentator in 1991, and starting in 1996 he hosted the talk show BET Talk (later renamed BET Tonight) on BET. Con ...more

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“In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme. --Aristotle” 30 likes
“The Poverty Tour provided the opportunity to meet many people who had been living paycheck to paycheck even before the economic downturn. To so quickly slide from the great middle into the underworld of the poor validated our suspicions that perhaps these citizens never really were bona fide, middle class Americans. Indeed, some economists assert that the middle class evaporated decades ago.” 5 likes
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