The Overlooked Americans

The Resilience of Our Rural Towns and What It Means for Our Country

Regular Price $32

Regular Price $40 CAD

Regular Price $32

Regular Price $40 CAD

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On Sale

Jun 6, 2023

Page Count

432 Pages




How small-town America’s surprising success reshapes our understanding of the nation’s urban-rural divide

The United States today appears to be deeply divided. Journalists have painted a portrait of an enraged America, where poor, conservative small towns are at war with affluent, progressive cities. In fact, the nation is less divided by geography than many think.
In The Overlooked Americans, public policy expert Elizabeth Currid-Halkett breaks through stereotypes about rural America. She traces how small towns are doing as well as, or better than, cities by many measures. She also shows how rural and urban Americans share core values, from opposing racism and upholding environmentalism to believing in democracy. When we focus too heavily on the far-right fringe, we overlook the millions of rural Americans who are content with their lives.
A rigorous debunking of the conventional wisdom about America’s urban-rural divide, The Overlooked Americans offers an urgent call for Americans to reconnect with one another.

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“[An] astute survey… Idealistic yet well-grounded, this is a refreshing antidote to doom and gloom prognostications of where America is headed.”—Publishers Weekly
The Overlooked Americans is a much-needed reassessment of small-town life in rural America. Based on detailed research, the book reveals life in rural America to be complex and varied—and in many cases better off than conventional wisdom would have us believe. This timely book belies the narrative of a nation sharply polarized across an urban-rural divide. Instead, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett shows that Americans aren’t nearly as divided by geography as the punditry and media would have us believe. Urban, suburban, and rural Americans have more in common than we think. A modern-day version of Michael Harrington’s classic, The Other America, this moving book is essential reading for all who care about the future of our country and its people.”—Richard Florida, author of The New Urban Crisis
“What is America really? Curid-Halkett pierces through the noise and challenges mainstream narratives with this timely, rigorous, and heartfelt analysis. The Overlooked Americans tears down entrenched definitions and stereotypes and builds a new image of rural America that is not hopelessly divided from urban America. Nuanced, cogent, and empathetic, this book deserves attention from politicians, pundits, and the public.”—Jane Harman, USC Presidential Scholar, Former Member of Congress (CA, 36)
“Currid-Halkett has long been a formidable observer of cultural trends, but with The Overlooked Americans, she deftly combines qualitative and quantitative research to create a riveting, clear-eyed, and often-surprising portrait of small-town America.”—Sloane Crosley, author of Cult Classic
“Currid-Halkett’s The Overlooked Americans is a pleasure to read. It is the most balanced and broadest-ranging look at her topic. Through data and heartfelt stories, Currid-Halkett reveals the grit and resilience of rural Americans.”—Tyler Cowen, George Mason University
“This book by a leading scholar of regional development puts to rest, supported by empirical evidence, the damaging myths about people in rural America. Citizens in rural areas are, for the most part, educated and civic-minded. Their quality of life appears to be higher than the average metropolitan dweller's, and they are not supporters of ideological and political extremism. Instead, they are hard-working and entrepreneurial, contributing to a healthy economy. This is an essential book that will change the public debate on the state of the nation."—Manuel Castells, University of California, Berkeley
The Overlooked Americans is a powerful antidote to the drop-in ‘diner interview.’ Currid-Halkett takes a sledgehammer of data to cherished myths about rural America and replaces them with empathetic portraits of complexity and contradiction. Her bottom line: America is not as divided as many Americans think nor in the ways we’ve been led to believe.”—Philip Gorski, Yale University
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