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Righteous Dopefiend (2009)

by Philippe Bourgois(Favorite Author)
4.43 of 5 Votes: 5
0520254988 (ISBN13: 9780520254985)
University of California Press
review 1: Excellent!!! I had to read this for my medical anthropology class and it was worth reading beyond needing to know for the exam. The book, in the style of photo-ethnography, portrayed with unflinching rawness the everyday lives and histories of the San Francisco Edgewater Boulevard heroin-addicted homeless. You pity, admire, and even come to like some of the people the authors interview. You peek into their lives, and if you're lucky, you come away from the book with a better, more tolerant understanding of what causes their extremely precarious, dangerous situations. They are not 'lazy, unworthy, morally unrepentant' individuals, but people who fell through the cracks of the increasingly neo-liberal, capitalist, War on Drugs nation that would rather give profits to multina... moretional corporations than create social service safety nets for the indigent. It is a powerful collection of personal stories and anthropological analysis that leaves the reader understanding exactly why the heroin-addicted homeless are Righteous Dopefiends. I highly recommend this book to anyone in the medical, political, law enforcement fields because it gives a human aspect to a 'problem' wished away by the general public. This book will change your outlook on the homeless and the drug-addicted. If it doesn't, well there's no hope for you.
review 2: A wonderfully researched and heartbreaking ethnographic study of homeless addicts in San Francisco. The authors of this book lived among the "dopefiends" under highways, at abandoned factories, in campers and cars. They did not merely record the activities of the heroin, alcohol, and crack addicts, but instead, they presented them as humans with histories. The writers show how the downsizing of the manufacturing industries in the 1990s and Reagan's cutback of support for subsidized housing in the 1980s played a part in the growth of the homeless population. Though almost all of the people presented attempted to begin new lives that did not require dependence on drugs, few were successful. The authors show how the requirements for free treatment programs (limited to those who are terminally ill) and difficulty of getting into a paid program thwarted many of their efforts. They also detailed the repeated destruction of the addicts' shelters by government workers, which left these people who have so little with nothing--not a change of clothes, not a blanket, nothing. It causes me great despair to think that we have essentially treated the homeless as nuisances to be removed from our view, but I am thankful to the authors for presenting this comprehensive analysis. less
Reviews (see all)
Anyone who's ever judged the homeless and those panhandling on a corner needs to read this.
Very thought provoking study of homeless addicts in San Francisco.
This book is amazing. I highly recommend it.
Who knew anthropology could be riveting?
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