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In this sweeping and original interpretation, Mitchell Duneier traces the idea of the ghetto from its beginnings in the 16th century and its revival by the Nazis to the present. As Duneier shows, we cannot understand the entanglements of race, poverty, and place in America today without recalling the history of the ghetto in Europe, as well as later efforts to understand the problems of the American city.
This is the story of the scholars and activists who tried to achieve that understanding. Their efforts to wrestle with race and poverty in their times cannot be divorced from their individual biographies, which often included direct encounters with prejudice and discrimination in the academy and elsewhere. Using new and forgotten sources, Duneier introduces us to Horace Cayton and St. Clair Drake, graduate students whose conception of the South Side of Chicago established a new paradigm for thinking about Northern racism and poverty in the 1940s. We learn how the psychologist Kenneth Clark subsequently linked Harlem's slum conditions with the persistence of black powerlessness in the civil rights era, and we follow the controversy over Daniel Patrick Moynihan's report on the black family. We see how the sociologist William Julius Wilson redefined the debate about urban America as middle-class African Americans increasingly escaped the ghetto and the country retreated from racially specific remedies. And we trace the education reformer Geoffrey Canada's efforts to transform the lives of inner-city children with ambitious interventions, even as other reformers sought to help families escape their neighborhoods altogether.
Ghetto offers a clear-eyed assessment of the thinkers and doers who have shaped American ideas about urban poverty and the ghetto. The result is a valuable new understanding of an age-old concept.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Jean on 12-10-16
A ghetto is thought of as an enclosed area of cities that society places those they perceive as undesirable groups. Duneler tells the history of ghettos, not only the space but the concept of them. In Europe, the undesirables were primarily Jews; in America, it was African Americans.
I was fascinated to learn that Jews were the first to be confined. Duneler tells about Venice in 1516 where Jews were forced by decree into confinement behind high walls of the Ghetto Nuovo, an island named after a copper foundry called Geto. Rome and the rest of Italy followed as the Catholic Church deemed the Jewish faith a threat to Christianity. He tells how Napoleon set out to demolish the Ghettoes of Western Europe.
I found the history and sociology intriguing. I was most interested in Europe because I knew less about it. But Duneler’s book was 90% about the United States treatment of the Blacks and only 10% about Europe.
The book was well written and researched. I found it very easy to read. Duneler has a way of writing that makes complex material easy and a delight to read. I felt this was an important book to read at this time due to all the vitriol currently in this country.
Prentice Onayemi does a good job narrating the book. Onayemi is an author, voice over artist and audiobook narrator.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
By Hannah Schroeder on 04-27-17
Very interesting but the narrators voice put me to sleep. Had trouble staying focused. The information from the book though is very interesting and it covers the history rather thoroughly
0 of 1 people found this review helpful