Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
On the evidence of this very American investigation, Finnegan has earned the deep respect accorded him for his earlier, risky reporting on African affairs. A New Yorker staff writer, he is best known for Crossing the Line (LJ 9/15/87), a work about apartheid in South Africa. For this new project, Finnegan dropped himself into the lives-particularly, the teenaged lives-of four communities missing out on the much-hyped market prosperity of the early Clinton years. Finnegan makes himself a benign feature in the blistered landscapes he draws, befriending the lead characters without corrupting the outcome of the stories in university-distant New Haven, CT; rural-remote San Augustine in East Texas; rural-suburban Sunnyside, in Washington State's wine country; and suburban-urban Antelope Valley, comprising the outer reaches of Los Angeles County. Finnegan produces page-turning social journalism, writing beautifully about the ugly lives of alienated teenagers and desperate parents sinking fast. Drugs, sex, and violence are the running themes. Only rarely does Finnegan insert personal or political commenatry into his extended vignettes, until the surprisingly charged epilog. Highly recommended for all academic and public libraries and especially high school collections.ÄScott H. Silverman, Bryn Mawr Coll. Lib., PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Having established a solid reputation with his reporting for The New Yorker and in three acclaimed books on the tribulations of nation-building and resulting conflict in southern Africa, Finnegan brings his skills home to the US in this work. He argues here that despite--or perhaps because of--the dramatic overall growth of US prosperity in the 1990s, a startlingly large percentage of society is being ignored both literally and figuratively by the rest of the public and by policy makers. Finnegan selected four microcosms to illustrate the impact the crisis has on communities. In New Haven he discovered a young black drug dealer, trapped in an old industrial city. St. Augustine County, in rural east Texas, provided Finnegan with a black family living in a different setting but experiencing problems frighteningly similar to those found in cities. In Washington's Yakima Valley he met Mexican immigrants trying to reconstruct their lives while seeking ethnic and labor justice. In the suburbs of Los Angeles he discovered that whites in southern California shared the same sense of hopelessness found elsewhere. Despite Finnegan's skill at description, the book's historical context seems shallow, particularly in tracing what certainly is a complex background to each region, community, and family. Nonetheless, this book provides useful material to ponder and will serve as a welcome wake-up call for the self-satisfied. General readers; undergraduates. C. K. Piehl; Mankato State University
Author notes provided by Syndetics
William Finnegan has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1987 and won two Overseas Press Club awards since 2009. He has written several books including Cold New World, A Complicated War, Dateline Soweto, and Crossing the Line. In 2016, he won the Pulitzer Prize for biography for Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life. <p> (Bowker Author Biography)