On the Bowery: Confronting Homelessness in American Society

Benedict Giamo, Author University of Iowa Press $37 (288p) ISBN 978-0-87745-243-0
Unmistakably an altered dissertation, Giamo's study of homeless men on the Bowery (a one-mile stretch in New York City) distills fresh insights about how society treats its dispossessed. The engrossing opening chapter shows how a flourishing commercial avenue, once home to the Lord & Taylor department store, yielded to burlesque houses and beer gardens, then to skid row. Next follow two dense chapters in which Giamo argues that ``mystifiers'' Jacob Riis and William Dean Howells repressed awareness of the broad social meaning of urban destitution, while ``critical realists'' Stephen Crane and Theodore Dreiser painted a more open, searching portrayal of the poor. The closing chapter explores the ``affiliative ties'' between homeless men and their attachments to the community. Photos. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 10/01/1989
Release date: 10/01/1989
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