Fucked at Birth
Recalibrating the American Dream for the 2020s
"This is a book ripped from the headlines, from Black Lives Matter to recently thriving downtowns stripped of office workers and service workers. Those catching the brunt of it all, those with the steepest hills to climb, may have been fucked at birth. But for everyone, as Maharidge observes, the feeling of safety is folly. A sharp wake-up call to heed the new Depression and to recognize the humanity of those hit hardest." —Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“Dale Maharidge takes us coast to coast in 2020, down highways along which he first reported decades ago. His honed class awareness—unrivaled among contemporary journalists—reveals that today's confluent health, economic and social crises are the logical conclusion to generations of unvalidated, untreated despair in a wealthy nation. Forget hollow commentary from detached television news studios in New York City. Fucked at Birth is the truth.” —Sarah Smarsh, Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth
Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Dale Maharidge has spent his career documenting the downward spiral of the American working class. Poverty is both reality and destiny for increasing numbers of people in the 2020s and, as Maharidge discovers spray-painted inside an abandoned gas station in the California desert, it is a fate often handed down from birth.
Motivated by this haunting phrase—“Fucked at Birth”—Maharidge explores the realities of being poor in America in the coming decade, as pandemic, economic crisis and social revolution up-end the country. Part raw memoir, part dogged, investigative journalism, Fucked At Birth channels the history of poverty in America to help inform the voices Maharidge encounters daily. In an unprecedented time of social activism amid economic crisis, when voices everywhere are rising up for change, Maharidge’s journey channels the spirits of George Orwell and James Agee, raising questions about class, privilege, and the very concept of “upward mobility,” while serving as a final call to action. From Sacramento to Denver, Youngstown to New York City, Fucked At Birth dares readers to see themselves in those suffering most, and to finally—after decades of refusal—recalibrate what we are going to do about it.