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Download Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.-How the Working Poor Became Big Business Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample Broke, USA: From Pawnshops to Poverty, Inc.-How the Working Poor Became Big Business Audiobook, by Gary Rivlin Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (350 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Gary Rivlin Narrator: Scott Sowers Publisher: HarperCollins Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: August 2010 ISBN: 9780062049391
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From the author of the New York Times Notable Book of the Year Drive By comes a unique and riveting exploration of one of America’s largest and fastest-growing industries—the business of poverty. Broke, USA is a Fast Food Nation for the “poverty industry” that will also appeal to readers of Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed) and David Shipler (The Working Poor). Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “With revealing stories, Gary Rivlin spotlights the systematic, widespread economic abuse of the poor by supposedly respectable corporations whose predatory conduct breeds misery and undoes many efforts by taxpayers to alleviate poverty.”

    David Cay Johnston, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Free Lunch and Perfectly Legal

  • Broke, USA will leave you mad as hell. How could we let this happen, businesses making fistfuls of money off the desperation of working Americans? Thanks, Gary Rivlin, for introducing us to folks like Bill Brennan, who early on saw it coming: predatory lending has destroyed communities. If only we had listened. Broke, USA is a wake-up call.”

    Alex Kotlowitz, author of There Are No Children Here and Never a City so Real

  • “[A] scathing, important book.”

    New York Times

  • “[A] blistering new investigation of the subprime economy.”

    New Yorker

  • “Mr. Rivlin brings to his subject a genuine gift for storytelling…Tales of poverty made worse by unrepayable loans are moving, and Mr. Rivlin tells them vividly.”

    Wall Street Journal

  • “A fascinating and very important work of investigation and explanation, which I hope gets the wide attention it deserves. Everyone has heard the story of the economic crises from the top end, featuring the financiers who cut corners and lined their own pockets through arrangements that put world prosperity at risk. Very few people have heard the story from the other end, the way Gary Rivlin tells it: about the struggling families trapped by the legal but grossly unethical practices of pawnshops, payday loan brokers, storefront check-cashing operations, and similar predatory schemes. The abuse of the working poor, as Rivlin describes it, is a hugely growing industry. This is a book with the potential to stimulate outrage—and political reform.”

    James Fallows, author of Breaking the News

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bonnie G. | 2/4/2014

    " This is one of the most important books on race, class, gender, business, urban and suburban living, and the modern economics of landscape. Supremely well written and edited, I wish everyone that has ever taken a pay day loan could read this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Gloria | 1/29/2014

    " Good journalistic read that exposes an under-the-radar yet huge phenomenon of the poverty industry - the hugely successful businesses that thrive by keeping poor people in perpetual debt. Eye-opening, upsetting. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Avi | 1/28/2014

    " certainly informative but got a bit repetitive after the first 100 or so pages. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jay | 1/26/2014

    " I worked my way through this book - it took some doing. Not because it was a difficult read, but because it covers the way people enslave themselves for cash - a difficult subject. It walks through payday loans, instant tax rebates, pawn shops, subprime mortgages, and more, but the stories behind these different financial instruments common in poor areas are very similar, and the sheer number of unbelievably high interest rates quoted in this book, especially in the later chapters, is overwhelming to the point of numbness. I appreciated that there was an attempt to portray both the consumer and the loaner perspective, but the loaner's perspective really doesn't play well - and I couldn't be sure there wasn't some bias against them there. The point of the book, I believe, is that in some markets, people don't use economic sense and heavily discount their future worth, and that is worthy of additional academic treatment. I hope this happens. It also explains why there are soooo many of these finance "storefronts" in existence and how they make their money. I listened on audio - the biggest issue with the audio is that almost all of the quotes from the loaners and the loanees are done in an over-the-top Southern accent, leaving the impression that this is a Southern issue. In fact, most of the source material for this book is taken from North and South Carolina and Ohio, which seems a bit odd for a nationwide issue. I don't recall any place west of the Mississippi being mentioned. The only non-Southern accent sounded stereotypically French, but was of an "African-American". The audio was just a bit off. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Nancy | 1/20/2014

    " I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Rivlin at the Miami Book fair a few years back. I was drawn to this book because I used to be among the working poor that Mr. Rivlin chose for his subject matter. I expected that this book would be about the industries themselves and feature more about the working poor. Unfortunately, I only found story after story of people getting rich off of the backs of the poor and next to nothing about the poor people themselves. I guess I was expecting a different kind of book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt | 1/15/2014

    " Very interesting book on the predatory lending that was the root of the financial crisis, as well as other ways in which poor Americans got screwed. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andrea | 1/9/2014

    " Interesting expose of the way various descendants of the pawnshop, such as payday advance, check cashing, prepay credit cards etc. developed and how little has been done to actually control or limit them. Also, how subprime mortgage and home equity businesses developed and what's driving them to continue. Gets a little repetitive and focuses a little too much on personalities for my taste, but definitely worth browsing through. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 12/31/2013

    " Gary Rivlin recounts the story behind the financial meltdown by focusing on what he calls Poverty, Inc., the industries of payday loans, rapid refunds, rent-to-own, high-interest car sales, and predatory mortgage loans that have made billions off the systematic exploitation of the poor. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Elizabeth | 12/29/2013

    " Great information, but the pacing dragged. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jonathan Flack | 12/8/2013

    " Payday loans, credit default swaps, mortgage industry, and the whole "poverty industry" as Rivlin terms it. I learned a lot from this book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sarah | 11/20/2013

    " Interesting story. Wish they'd spent more time on payday loans, rent-to-own, and title loans and less time on subprime real estate mortgages. Also not enough time was dedicated to what other alternatives (more affordable) are available to people who currently use these services. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joe | 10/20/2013

    " May be a bit much, but you can chase the book with Michael Moore's film, Capitalism. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Bond | 8/13/2013

    " A colorful exploration of the scary world of pay-day lending "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Troy Storm | 4/22/2013

    " Interesting run-down of how banks have completely abandoned the poorer sections of the city making it even more difficult for those barely making it to manage their money. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gaylon | 11/1/2012

    " Fabulous insight into how we wound up in the financial crisis. It all started when someone figured out how to make money on the most financially strapped Americans. Rivlin takes you step by step through the greed game. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bank | 8/13/2012

    " A fascinating story of the beginning of the payday industry ,the profitability and margins In a recession proof business , and how the industry ran amok as it morphed into home equity loans as all ethics went out the window. Basically. a prequel and lead in to the subprime meltdown . "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Christine | 1/13/2012

    " Wow. This book made me so angry. I have no problem with businesses and banks making money, but these lenders were truly PREDATORY. And how sad the recent "financial overhall" bill which recently passed takes care of non of these problems. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tree | 11/12/2011

    " I was angry after reading this book about how the working poor are taken advantage of simply because there is money to be made. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Dan | 7/6/2011

    " Just a sad, sad read. So much greed and evil. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 2/4/2011

    " Excellent, readable, and ultimately depressing story of the poverty lending business and how it helped bring about the financial meltdown. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jeannette | 1/19/2011

    " This book will be real eye-opener. It tells of the ways that the working poor in America are exploited. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Avi | 1/16/2011

    " certainly informative but got a bit repetitive after the first 100 or so pages. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Theophilus | 1/10/2011

    " Very interesting. He names names and is very specific. The tragedy is, those most likely to fall into this financial pit trap will probably not read this book. Would make a good read for a high school home ec or consumer science class. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David | 11/24/2010

    " A colorful exploration of the scary world of pay-day lending "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matt | 11/24/2010

    " Very interesting book on the predatory lending that was the root of the financial crisis, as well as other ways in which poor Americans got screwed. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bonnie | 11/18/2010

    " This is one of the most important books on race, class, gender, business, urban and suburban living, and the modern economics of landscape. Supremely well written and edited, I wish everyone that has ever taken a pay day loan could read this. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kerry | 11/11/2010

    " Started off great, but then the narrative got lost "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 10/31/2010

    " Gary Rivlin recounts the story behind the financial meltdown by focusing on what he calls Poverty, Inc., the industries of payday loans, rapid refunds, rent-to-own, high-interest car sales, and predatory mortgage loans that have made billions off the systematic exploitation of the poor. "

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About the Author

Gary Rivlin is the award-winning author of Fire on the Prairie; Drive By, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year; and The Plot to Get Bill Gates, among other works. A two-time Gerald Loeb Award winner, he has worked as a writer and reporter for the New York Times, Industry Standard, East Bay Express, and the Chicago Reader, and his articles have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, GQ, Salon, Newsweek, and Wired, among other publications.

About the Narrator

Scott Sowers is an actor and audiobook narrator. AudioFile magazine named him the 2008 Best Voice in Mystery and Suspense.