Dignity: Seeking Respect 2021 high quality in Back Row America online

Dignity: Seeking Respect 2021 high quality in Back Row America online

Dignity: Seeking Respect 2021 high quality in Back Row America online
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Description

Product Description

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"A profound book.... It will break your heart but also leave you with hope." —J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy


"[A] deeply empathetic book." —The Economist

With stark photo essays and unforgettable true stories, Chris Arnade cuts through "expert" pontification on inequality, addiction, and poverty to allow those who have been left behind to define themselves on their own terms.

After abandoning his Wall Street career, Chris Arnade decided to document poverty and addiction in the Bronx. He began interviewing, photographing, and becoming close friends with homeless addicts, and spent hours in drug dens and McDonald''s. Then he started driving across America to see how the rest of the country compared. He found the same types of stories everywhere, across lines of race, ethnicity, religion, and geography. 

The people he got to know, from Alabama and California to Maine and Nevada, gave Arnade a new respect for the dignity and resilience of what he calls America''s Back Row--those who lack the credentials and advantages of the so-called meritocratic upper class. The strivers in the Front Row, with their advanced degrees and upward mobility, see the Back Row''s values as worthless. They scorn anyone who stays in a dying town or city as foolish, and mock anyone who clings to religion or tradition as naïve.

As Takeesha, a woman in the Bronx, told Arnade, she wants to be seen she sees herself: "a prostitute, a mother of six, and a child of God." This book is his attempt to help the rest of us truly see, hear, and respect millions of people who''ve been left behind.

Review

“Dignity is ‘about’ inequality in much the same way that James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men—a seminal study of tenant farmers in Alabama, illustrated with stark photographs by Walker Evans—was ‘about’ the Great Depression. Both works illuminate the reality of political and economic forces that might seem familiar in outline, by showing their effects on ordinary people.”
The Economist
 
”Like Orwell, Mr. Arnade spent a long time with the people he would write about, and he renders them sharply, with an eye for revelatory detail.”
The Wall Street Journal

Dignity is not overtly political, but it’s almost certainly going to be the most important political book of the year.”
–Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option
 
Dignity
is one of the best nonfiction books published in my lifetime.”
Matthew Walther, The Week
 
“A careful, quiet, admirable effort to understand and chronicle the lives of people living in de-industrialized and impoverished communities across the country.”
Pacific Standard
 
“Candid, empathetic portraits of silenced men, women, and children.”
Kirkus

Dignity is a profound book, taking us to parts of our country that many of our leaders never visit, and introducing us to people those same leaders don''t know. It will break your heart but also leave you with hope, because Chris Arnade''s ‘back row America’ contains not just struggle, but also perseverance, resilience, and love.”
–J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy

“Since the 2016 presidential election, pundits have been speculating about what’s going on with America’s underclass. Chris Arnade actually asked them. In dozens of detailed, sensitively rendered case studies, Arnade’s subjects speak frankly about their lives, revealing that material resources and opportunities are sorely needed, but that the greater damage done to America’s poor and suffering people may be interior, even spiritual. In that sense, Dignity—with all its tender focus on “back-row” people—says even more about America’s elite, and what they’ve wrought.”
–Elizabeth Bruenig, The Washington Post
 
“At times difficult to read, because it brings fully into view people who many would rather not see,  Dignity guides us to forlorn places where our countrymen struggle to live lives of decency and self-respect, and calls for a deep reexamination of the kind of world that too often congratulates itself on its progress and enlightenment while keeping hidden the costs exacted upon the least among us.”
–Patrick J. Deneen, Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame
 
 “The rise of populism drew long overdue attention to those forgotten and the left behind, only to reduce them to a political symbol over which vicious partisan battles are waged. Arnade''s book brings our focus back to the dignity and lives of ordinary people, who are still just as forgotten and left behind.”
–Angela Nagle, author of Kill All Normies

"Chris Arnade''s remarkable journey from Wall Street banker to chronicler of ''back-row America'' teaches some important lessons to those in ‘the front row’: Even—or especially—on the edge of poverty, abuse, and addiction, our fellow citizens yearn for the same sense of community and human connectedness that we all desire. In a culture that celebrates material wealth and credentials, the immaterial still reigns supreme: faith, honor, place, and friendship. In setting out to learn from others, Chris Arnade learned much about himself, and we can all learn from Dignity.”
–Senator Tom Cotton

About the Author

Chris Arnade is a freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Atlantic, Guardian, Washington Post, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal among many others. He has a PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University and worked for twenty years as a trader at an elite Wall Street bank before leaving in 2012 to document addiction in the Bronx.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction
 
I first walked into the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx be­cause I was told not to. I was told it was too dangerous, too poor, and that I was too white. I was told “nobody goes there for any­thing other than drugs and prostitutes.” The people directly telling me this were my colleagues (other bankers), my neighbors (other wealthy Brooklynites), and my friends (other academics). All, like me, success­ful, well-educated people who had opinions on the Bronx but had never really been there.
 
It was 2011, and I was in my eighteenth year as a Wall Street bond trader. My workdays were spent sitting behind a wall of computers, gambling on flashing numbers, in a downtown Manhattan trading floor filled with hundreds of others doing exactly the same thing. My home life was spent in a large Brooklyn apartment, in a neighborhood filled with other successful people.
 
I wasn’t in the mood for listening to anyone, especially other bank­ers, other academics, and the educated experts who were my neighbors. I hadn’t been for a few years. In 2008, the financial crisis had consumed the country and my life, sending the company I worked for, Citibank, into a spiral stopped only by a government bailout. I had just seen where our—my own included—hubris had taken us and what it had cost the country. Not that it had actually cost us bankers, or my neighbors, much of anything.
 
I had always taken long walks, sometimes as long as fifteen miles, to explore and reduce stress, but now the walks began to evolve. Rather than walk with some plan to walk the entire length of Broadway, or along the length of a subway line, I started walking the less seen parts of New York City, the parts people claimed were unsafe or uninteresting, walking with no goal other than eventually getting home. Along the walk I talked to whoever talked to me, and I let their suggestions, not my instincts and maps, navigate me. I also used my camera to take por­traits of those I met, and I became more and more drawn to the stories people inevitably wanted to share about their life.
 
The walks, the portraits, the stories I heard, the places they took me, became a process of learning in a different kind of way. Not from text­books, or statistics, or spreadsheets, or PowerPoint presentations, or classrooms, or speeches, or documentaries—but from people.
 
What I started seeing, and learning, was just how cloistered and privileged my world was and how narrow and selfish I was. Not just in how I lived but in what and how I thought.

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Customer reviews

4.5 out of 54.5 out of 5
428 global ratings

Top reviews from the United States

Jeff
1.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Unreliable
Reviewed in the United States on July 7, 2019
Having grown up poor and escaped I read Mr. Arnade''s stories trying to get a perspective on other people. Many of the stories are very compelling and heartbreaking. But then I got to the last chapter which instead of laying out some thoughts on how I could help was... See more
Having grown up poor and escaped I read Mr. Arnade''s stories trying to get a perspective on other people. Many of the stories are very compelling and heartbreaking. But then I got to the last chapter which instead of laying out some thoughts on how I could help was essentially an extended rant on President Trump. Amazing how all the stories took place while Mr. Obama was president but somehow Mr. Trump is to blame. Amazing how all the stories were in cities where the Democrat party has been in power for generations and yet Mr Trump and white Republicans are to blame. This irrational rant brought the whole narrative into doubt. Who knows what is true and what is made up...
270 people found this helpful
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Barbara J Palensky
2.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Reality In America
Reviewed in the United States on June 15, 2019
When I started to read this book I found the the people and their personalities and communities gripping. The comments about President Trump was another reminder of the extreme hatred and divide in our country. This country had 8 years of another President. Where is the... See more
When I started to read this book I found the the people and their personalities and communities gripping. The comments about President Trump was another reminder of the extreme hatred and divide in our country. This country had 8 years of another President. Where is the blame and comments there?
163 people found this helpful
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Quasicon
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Globalism Walmart Drugs and Communities
Reviewed in the United States on June 24, 2019
We bought this hoping for real insight, and it was there, in many thoughtful observations. A lot of time and effort went into this study, and I appreciate that. The true drug situation is revealed and it is just horrific. We did feel insulted once again by the... See more
We bought this hoping for real insight, and it was there, in many thoughtful observations. A lot of time and effort went into this study, and I appreciate that. The true drug situation is revealed and it is just horrific.
We did feel insulted once again by the references to Trump, who in our opinion, has actually tackled the fallout from middle and back row America being forgotten in the race to be world citizens first, that the elite seem so bent on. We watched Walmart wreck our home town. We are bitter clingers and deplorables, but also educated, professional, religious rural people, front row in a better world than the author''s. Our world is filled with farmers, coal miners, road crews, engineers, cattlemen, and it is a proud and working masculine culture, far from the suburbs and large cities.
The author did leave many things unsaid, to his credit, that allows the reader to draw his own conclusions. Flannery O''Connor''s brilliant tactic leaves the reader feeling smart, and shows respect for them. Telling a story is enough. Political interpretations that can only please the elite and insult the rest are best avoided.
126 people found this helpful
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Marzie
5.0 out of 5 stars
An important look at America
Reviewed in the United States on June 5, 2019
I''ve followed Chris'' work since his Flickr site first started featuring Faces of Addiction back in 2009 (I will never forget Vanessa''s face, or Egypt''s, Chris). When he went on the road in 2015 and continued posting photos from all over America post-2016 election, I told... See more
I''ve followed Chris'' work since his Flickr site first started featuring Faces of Addiction back in 2009 (I will never forget Vanessa''s face, or Egypt''s, Chris). When he went on the road in 2015 and continued posting photos from all over America post-2016 election, I told more and more people to read the stories he has heard for a slice of America that people often don''t see. This is a moving book and I''m glad that Chris has shared his journey in a book. You can find his occasional byline articles, along with photos in The Guardian.
101 people found this helpful
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timjk
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Front Row, Back Row - We need to listen to one another
Reviewed in the United States on June 8, 2019
The book is an amazingly humble and heartfelt odyssey through the problems of this country most would rather throw money at than do what might be more effective...if not more uncomfortable. I wont summarize the book, there will likely be lots of that. The writing... See more
The book is an amazingly humble and heartfelt odyssey through the problems of this country most would rather throw money at than do what might be more effective...if not more uncomfortable.

I wont summarize the book, there will likely be lots of that. The writing was strong and the photography yet stronger in chronicling the what and whys of socioeconomic hardship in America. I will be giving this book to many in my life conscientious enough to ponder the stories within.
50 people found this helpful
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Katrina Cobb
3.0 out of 5 stars
Mostly a miss
Reviewed in the United States on June 8, 2019
This book has been mistitled as it is mostly about drugged up street people who know that they dont deserve dignity, they chose to not fight, they chose to escape through drugs. This book is not about the backrow people, this is about the truants, and their failure to care... See more
This book has been mistitled as it is mostly about drugged up street people who know that they dont deserve dignity, they chose to not fight, they chose to escape through drugs. This book is not about the backrow people, this is about the truants, and their failure to care about and get educated is a big part of why they ended up as drugged up street people. I get the idea that this could have been a book about the backrow but that the wrong stories were picked. I wonder how that happened. Another problem is that the author is super well credentialed and spent gobs of time on this project and this book is the best that he could do? Still, it is worth reading because so few have made any honest effort to figure out what is going on in America with the have nots. He does get that it is the elite who caused this horror that he is seeing on the streets but who dont seem to know it and he seems to understand at some level that they dont want to. I mean how hard is it to see what he has seen, to figure out what he has figured out...all one has to do is look and go talk to people and listen to them with an open mind. The big disconnect here that the author got that far and yet ended up with a book that on the main sticks to selling lefty victim culture talking points. While it is better done than most this is at the end of the day another "Coastal Elite member goes on safari to the other America" project. With all of the time spend on it this should have turned out better. This is well made book physically.
68 people found this helpful
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NB
3.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Tell me something I don’t know
Reviewed in the United States on June 8, 2019
Not sure the author gave me any new information. Easy to point out the problems. Not so easy to solve the problems. I was expecting more. Very disappointed.
39 people found this helpful
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BobP
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A new take on society
Reviewed in the United States on June 7, 2019
The author spent 20 years as one of society''s winners. In this book he takes a deep and affecting look at those he once considered to be losers and comes away with a more nuanced conclusion.
32 people found this helpful
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Top reviews from other countries

Tonyo
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Thin on analysis but strong on emotion
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on June 19, 2019
This is a new publication which I was led to by a favourable review in the Economist. It''s a slim book padded out with lots of photographs, wide margins and wide spacing of lines. It''s printed on super heavy, glossy paper to make it seem like a weighty book (and it is...See more
This is a new publication which I was led to by a favourable review in the Economist. It''s a slim book padded out with lots of photographs, wide margins and wide spacing of lines. It''s printed on super heavy, glossy paper to make it seem like a weighty book (and it is heavy). The book is a study of what life in America is like for the most under-privileged people. It consists of more or less verbatim accounts of conversations with people the author meets on his travels. He summarises the common themes he hears and compares and contrasts their experiences with those of affluent Americans. The author really doesn''t have that much to say and he repeats it many times, saying much the same thing about different people in different cities. Nevertheless, since much of what he discovered appeared to be news to him, and therefore presumably to many other people with a similar socio-economic background, the book was well worth publishing. Maybe it should be compulsory reading. He did unearth some counter-intuitive facts, such as the churches are the most effective support organisations because they give people spiritual support - a sense of self worth and belonging - as well as material help. The stories people told him about their lives were heart rending. It is beyond belief that the richest country in the world has abandoned so many people to dire poverty and thinks it has done a good job because the economy is growing. Most of the people interviewed had previously enjoyed a modest but viable lifestyle working in factories before the elites moved all the jobs offshore. Some analysis of what might be done would have been very interesting, but at least the author does provide a statement of the problem, which is good because politicians don''t seem to understand it. We could do with a UK version of the book to educate our politicians.
This is a new publication which I was led to by a favourable review in the Economist. It''s a slim book padded out with lots of photographs, wide margins and wide spacing of lines. It''s printed on super heavy, glossy paper to make it seem like a weighty book (and it is heavy).

The book is a study of what life in America is like for the most under-privileged people. It consists of more or less verbatim accounts of conversations with people the author meets on his travels. He summarises the common themes he hears and compares and contrasts their experiences with those of affluent Americans. The author really doesn''t have that much to say and he repeats it many times, saying much the same thing about different people in different cities.

Nevertheless, since much of what he discovered appeared to be news to him, and therefore presumably to many other people with a similar socio-economic background, the book was well worth publishing. Maybe it should be compulsory reading. He did unearth some counter-intuitive facts, such as the churches are the most effective support organisations because they give people spiritual support - a sense of self worth and belonging - as well as material help.

The stories people told him about their lives were heart rending. It is beyond belief that the richest country in the world has abandoned so many people to dire poverty and thinks it has done a good job because the economy is growing. Most of the people interviewed had previously enjoyed a modest but viable lifestyle working in factories before the elites moved all the jobs offshore.

Some analysis of what might be done would have been very interesting, but at least the author does provide a statement of the problem, which is good because politicians don''t seem to understand it. We could do with a UK version of the book to educate our politicians.
12 people found this helpful
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William Jordan
4.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
a discussion of ''back row'' america that''s always interesting but is short on answers....
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on February 5, 2020
The author tells us about, and photographs, back-row America in lots of places and the text and photos are all interesting. Mainly he tells us about the ways in which people cope with being in the back row - through drugs, religion, or identity - and how their lives are...See more
The author tells us about, and photographs, back-row America in lots of places and the text and photos are all interesting. Mainly he tells us about the ways in which people cope with being in the back row - through drugs, religion, or identity - and how their lives are lived (the critical importance of McDonalds). Two discussions of Somali communities paint different pictures - one of relative success (in a Somali/white town) and one with more problems (where the town is Somali/white/Mexican)…. The author is strong on narrative and what has happened - jobs have disappeared; and education and mobility have become the keys to success; then bad things happen to the communities that are left behind...But there are no answers here
The author tells us about, and photographs, back-row America in lots of places and the text and photos are all interesting. Mainly he tells us about the ways in which people cope with being in the back row - through drugs, religion, or identity - and how their lives are lived (the critical importance of McDonalds). Two discussions of Somali communities paint different pictures - one of relative success (in a Somali/white town) and one with more problems (where the town is Somali/white/Mexican)….

The author is strong on narrative and what has happened - jobs have disappeared; and education and mobility have become the keys to success; then bad things happen to the communities that are left behind...But there are no answers here
Report
Ramona Liberoff
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
A tough and honest look at those left behind
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 29, 2020
What this book makes clear is that America’s poor are invisible and misunderstood, and that much well intentioned liberal policy does not give them dignity. It is a fine and harrowing read and should make us all feel a little more direct connection with each other.
What this book makes clear is that America’s poor are invisible and misunderstood, and that much well intentioned liberal policy does not give them dignity. It is a fine and harrowing read and should make us all feel a little more direct connection with each other.
Report
Chris Griffiths
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
Heartbreaking.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 24, 2019
Amazing book, rings true
Amazing book, rings true
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MarcoPolo
5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase
"Back row": das Gift zerstörter Würde
Reviewed in Germany on February 3, 2020
Als Angestellter im New Yorker Wallstreet-Business war Christ Arnade ein Vertreter der "front row": gut verdienend inmitten gut verdienender Nachbarn, selbstverständlich liberal und "inklusiv" in seiner gesellschaftlichen Haltung. Die Toleranz der Mittelschicht hat aber...See more
Als Angestellter im New Yorker Wallstreet-Business war Christ Arnade ein Vertreter der "front row": gut verdienend inmitten gut verdienender Nachbarn, selbstverständlich liberal und "inklusiv" in seiner gesellschaftlichen Haltung. Die Toleranz der Mittelschicht hat aber eine Grenze: Wer nicht in der Lage oder nicht willens ist, Bildungsangebote anzunehmen, passt nicht ins Konzept einer Hochproduktivitäts-Wirtschaft. Wer es vorzieht, im Heimatort und bei der Familie zu bleiben, statt der Nachfrage am Arbeitsmarkt nachzureisen, gilt als dumb, verstockt und nicht zu retten. Das ist die - längst auch in Europa - wachsende Schicht der "back row". Menschen, die zurückbleiben und sich isolieren in bröckelnden Stadtteilen oder Mietskasernen. Drogen bringen die Illusion von Lebensqualität und am Ende den toxischen Kreislauf von persönlichem Niedergang, kaputten Familien und Gewalt. Chris Arnade sucht sie auf und spricht mit ihnen. Offen, empathisch, ohne dabei dem einseitigen oder romantisierenden Blick des "Gutmenschen" zu verfallen. Er fängt ihre Lebenswelt sensibel und respektvoll in Fotos ein. Sein Buch wächst mit jeder Seite zu einem mächtigen Appell an die Wohlstandsgesellschaften: Kultivierung, Bildung, Mobilität und Weltoffenheit sind großartige Werte - aber nicht zwangsläufig universell. Einen Teil der Gesellschaft überfordern sie und werden sie auch in Zukunft überfordern. Wenn wir nach dem Untergang von Millionen Arbeitsplätzen in der Industrie nicht neue Wege finden, diesen Menschen als Leistenden wie Konsumierenden Teilhabe und Würde in der Gesellschaft anzubieten, werden eben diese Menschen unseren Wohlstand, unsere Freiheit und unsere Demokratien auf eine schwere Probe stellen.
Als Angestellter im New Yorker Wallstreet-Business war Christ Arnade ein Vertreter der "front row": gut verdienend inmitten gut verdienender Nachbarn, selbstverständlich liberal und "inklusiv" in seiner gesellschaftlichen Haltung. Die Toleranz der Mittelschicht hat aber eine Grenze: Wer nicht in der Lage oder nicht willens ist, Bildungsangebote anzunehmen, passt nicht ins Konzept einer Hochproduktivitäts-Wirtschaft. Wer es vorzieht, im Heimatort und bei der Familie zu bleiben, statt der Nachfrage am Arbeitsmarkt nachzureisen, gilt als dumb, verstockt und nicht zu retten.

Das ist die - längst auch in Europa - wachsende Schicht der "back row". Menschen, die zurückbleiben und sich isolieren in bröckelnden Stadtteilen oder Mietskasernen. Drogen bringen die Illusion von Lebensqualität und am Ende den toxischen Kreislauf von persönlichem Niedergang, kaputten Familien und Gewalt. Chris Arnade sucht sie auf und spricht mit ihnen. Offen, empathisch, ohne dabei dem einseitigen oder romantisierenden Blick des "Gutmenschen" zu verfallen. Er fängt ihre Lebenswelt sensibel und respektvoll in Fotos ein. Sein Buch wächst mit jeder Seite zu einem mächtigen Appell an die Wohlstandsgesellschaften: Kultivierung, Bildung, Mobilität und Weltoffenheit sind großartige Werte - aber nicht zwangsläufig universell. Einen Teil der Gesellschaft überfordern sie und werden sie auch in Zukunft überfordern. Wenn wir nach dem Untergang von Millionen Arbeitsplätzen in der Industrie nicht neue Wege finden, diesen Menschen als Leistenden wie Konsumierenden Teilhabe und Würde in der Gesellschaft anzubieten, werden eben diese Menschen unseren Wohlstand, unsere Freiheit und unsere Demokratien auf eine schwere Probe stellen.
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Description

Product Description

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"A profound book.... It will break your heart but also leave you with hope." —J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy


"[A] deeply empathetic book." —The Economist

With stark photo essays and unforgettable true stories, Chris Arnade cuts through "expert" pontification on inequality, addiction, and poverty to allow those who have been left behind to define themselves on their own terms.

After abandoning his Wall Street career, Chris Arnade decided to document poverty and addiction in the Bronx. He began interviewing, photographing, and becoming close friends with homeless addicts, and spent hours in drug dens and McDonald''s. Then he started driving across America to see how the rest of the country compared. He found the same types of stories everywhere, across lines of race, ethnicity, religion, and geography. 

The people he got to know, from Alabama and California to Maine and Nevada, gave Arnade a new respect for the dignity and resilience of what he calls America''s Back Row--those who lack the credentials and advantages of the so-called meritocratic upper class. The strivers in the Front Row, with their advanced degrees and upward mobility, see the Back Row''s values as worthless. They scorn anyone who stays in a dying town or city as foolish, and mock anyone who clings to religion or tradition as naïve.

As Takeesha, a woman in the Bronx, told Arnade, she wants to be seen she sees herself: "a prostitute, a mother of six, and a child of God." This book is his attempt to help the rest of us truly see, hear, and respect millions of people who''ve been left behind.

Review

“Dignity is ‘about’ inequality in much the same way that James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men—a seminal study of tenant farmers in Alabama, illustrated with stark photographs by Walker Evans—was ‘about’ the Great Depression. Both works illuminate the reality of political and economic forces that might seem familiar in outline, by showing their effects on ordinary people.”
The Economist
 
”Like Orwell, Mr. Arnade spent a long time with the people he would write about, and he renders them sharply, with an eye for revelatory detail.”
The Wall Street Journal

Dignity is not overtly political, but it’s almost certainly going to be the most important political book of the year.”
–Rod Dreher, author of The Benedict Option
 
Dignity
is one of the best nonfiction books published in my lifetime.”
Matthew Walther, The Week
 
“A careful, quiet, admirable effort to understand and chronicle the lives of people living in de-industrialized and impoverished communities across the country.”
Pacific Standard
 
“Candid, empathetic portraits of silenced men, women, and children.”
Kirkus

Dignity is a profound book, taking us to parts of our country that many of our leaders never visit, and introducing us to people those same leaders don''t know. It will break your heart but also leave you with hope, because Chris Arnade''s ‘back row America’ contains not just struggle, but also perseverance, resilience, and love.”
–J.D. Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy

“Since the 2016 presidential election, pundits have been speculating about what’s going on with America’s underclass. Chris Arnade actually asked them. In dozens of detailed, sensitively rendered case studies, Arnade’s subjects speak frankly about their lives, revealing that material resources and opportunities are sorely needed, but that the greater damage done to America’s poor and suffering people may be interior, even spiritual. In that sense, Dignity—with all its tender focus on “back-row” people—says even more about America’s elite, and what they’ve wrought.”
–Elizabeth Bruenig, The Washington Post
 
“At times difficult to read, because it brings fully into view people who many would rather not see,  Dignity guides us to forlorn places where our countrymen struggle to live lives of decency and self-respect, and calls for a deep reexamination of the kind of world that too often congratulates itself on its progress and enlightenment while keeping hidden the costs exacted upon the least among us.”
–Patrick J. Deneen, Professor of Political Science, University of Notre Dame
 
 “The rise of populism drew long overdue attention to those forgotten and the left behind, only to reduce them to a political symbol over which vicious partisan battles are waged. Arnade''s book brings our focus back to the dignity and lives of ordinary people, who are still just as forgotten and left behind.”
–Angela Nagle, author of Kill All Normies

"Chris Arnade''s remarkable journey from Wall Street banker to chronicler of ''back-row America'' teaches some important lessons to those in ‘the front row’: Even—or especially—on the edge of poverty, abuse, and addiction, our fellow citizens yearn for the same sense of community and human connectedness that we all desire. In a culture that celebrates material wealth and credentials, the immaterial still reigns supreme: faith, honor, place, and friendship. In setting out to learn from others, Chris Arnade learned much about himself, and we can all learn from Dignity.”
–Senator Tom Cotton

About the Author

Chris Arnade is a freelance writer and photographer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, Atlantic, Guardian, Washington Post, Financial Times, and Wall Street Journal among many others. He has a PhD in physics from Johns Hopkins University and worked for twenty years as a trader at an elite Wall Street bank before leaving in 2012 to document addiction in the Bronx.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Introduction
 
I first walked into the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx be­cause I was told not to. I was told it was too dangerous, too poor, and that I was too white. I was told “nobody goes there for any­thing other than drugs and prostitutes.” The people directly telling me this were my colleagues (other bankers), my neighbors (other wealthy Brooklynites), and my friends (other academics). All, like me, success­ful, well-educated people who had opinions on the Bronx but had never really been there.
 
It was 2011, and I was in my eighteenth year as a Wall Street bond trader. My workdays were spent sitting behind a wall of computers, gambling on flashing numbers, in a downtown Manhattan trading floor filled with hundreds of others doing exactly the same thing. My home life was spent in a large Brooklyn apartment, in a neighborhood filled with other successful people.
 
I wasn’t in the mood for listening to anyone, especially other bank­ers, other academics, and the educated experts who were my neighbors. I hadn’t been for a few years. In 2008, the financial crisis had consumed the country and my life, sending the company I worked for, Citibank, into a spiral stopped only by a government bailout. I had just seen where our—my own included—hubris had taken us and what it had cost the country. Not that it had actually cost us bankers, or my neighbors, much of anything.
 
I had always taken long walks, sometimes as long as fifteen miles, to explore and reduce stress, but now the walks began to evolve. Rather than walk with some plan to walk the entire length of Broadway, or along the length of a subway line, I started walking the less seen parts of New York City, the parts people claimed were unsafe or uninteresting, walking with no goal other than eventually getting home. Along the walk I talked to whoever talked to me, and I let their suggestions, not my instincts and maps, navigate me. I also used my camera to take por­traits of those I met, and I became more and more drawn to the stories people inevitably wanted to share about their life.
 
The walks, the portraits, the stories I heard, the places they took me, became a process of learning in a different kind of way. Not from text­books, or statistics, or spreadsheets, or PowerPoint presentations, or classrooms, or speeches, or documentaries—but from people.
 
What I started seeing, and learning, was just how cloistered and privileged my world was and how narrow and selfish I was. Not just in how I lived but in what and how I thought.

Product information

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