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Litquake's Lit Cast

Nov 24, 2020

“This is an unflinching book that illustrates the central, confounding American paradox—in a country that purports to root for the underdog, too often we exalt the rich and we punish the poor. With thorough reporting and extraordinary compassion, Kristof and WuDunn tell the stories of those who fall behind in the world’s wealthiest country, and find not an efficient first-world safety net created by their government, but a patchwork of community initiatives, perpetually underfunded and run by tired saints. And yet amid all the tragedy and neglect, Kristof and WuDunn conjure a picture of how it could all get better, how it could all work. That’s the miracle of Tightrope, and why this is such an indispensable book.” —Dave Eggers

The Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of the acclaimed, best-selling Half the Sky, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl Wudunn, now issue a plea—deeply personal and told through the lives of real Americans—to address the crisis in working-class America, while focusing on solutions to mend a half century of governmental failure. Their latest bestseller, Tightrope: Americans Reaching for Hope, draws us deep into an “other America,” from the lives of some of the children with whom Kristof grew up, in rural Oregon, to similar stories of needless working-class tragedy from the Dakotas, Oklahoma, New York, and Virginia. But amid the deaths from drugs, alcohol, suicide, or reckless accidents, there are stories about resurgence, among them: Annette Dove, who has devoted her life to helping the teenagers of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and Daniel McDowell, of Baltimore, whose tale of opioid addiction and recovery suggests that there are viable ways to solve our nation’s drug epidemic. With their superb, nuanced reportage, Kristof and WuDunn have given us a book that is both riveting and impossible to ignore. The authors discuss their work and share stories with Arlie Russell Hochschild, author of the recent New York Times bestseller Strangers in Their Own Land.