Named one of the 20 best nonfiction books of 2023 by Publishers Weekly! There is a familiar narrative about American suburbs: after 1945, white residents left cities for leafy, affluent subdivisions and the prosperity they seemed to embody. In Levittown's Shadow tells us there's more to this story, offering an eye-opening account of diverse, poor residents living and working in those same neighborhoods. Tim Keogh shows how public policies produced both suburban plenty and deprivation--and why ignoring suburban poverty doomed efforts to reduce inequality. Keogh focuses on the suburbs of Long Island, home to Levittown, often considered the archetypal suburb. Here military contracts subsidized well-paid employment welding airplanes or filing paperwork, while weak labor laws impoverished suburbanites who mowed lawns, built houses, scrubbed kitchen floors, and stocked supermarket shelves. Federal mortgage programs helped some families buy orderly single-family homes and enter the middle class but also underwrote landlord efforts to cram poor families into suburban attics, basements, and sheds. Keogh explores how policymakers ignored suburban inequality, addressing housing segregation between cities and suburbs rather than suburbanites' demands for decent jobs, housing, and schools. By turning our attention to the suburban poor, Keogh reveals poverty wasn't just an urban problem but a suburban one, too. In Levittown's Shadow deepens our understanding of suburbia's history--and points us toward more effective ways to combat poverty today.
Author: Tim Keogh Publisher: University of Chicago Press Published: 11/03/2023 Pages: 336 Binding Type: Paperback Weight: 0.66lbs Size: 8.90h x 6.00w x 0.80d ISBN: 9780226827759
Review Citation(s): Publishers Weekly 09/04/2023
About the Author Tim Keogh is assistant professor of history at Queensborough Community College, part of the City University of New York.