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The Rich and the Rest of Us: a Call to Changes

Poverty is an acute problem of many countries, irrespective of an economic situation, medical system, governmental structure, or religion. It concerns the majority of people on the planet, and it has the tendency to get worse. Tavis Smiley together with Cornel West realized that the times of the problem analysis had passed, and now persons of action must take decisive steps and measures. They made a move forward by writing their masterpiece, which could influence masses. This paper is the review of the book The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto by Tavis Smiley and Cornel West, which is a strong call for changes.

Both authors decided to take a huge amount of responsibility by addressing the poverty question. Rich individuals belong to the minority, while people with limited sums of money share the same difficulties and interests. However, they are not linked to each other and still left on their own. Smiley and West were courageous creating the work that appeals to everybody as well as proving that the necessary changes must be introduced for the purpose of rescuing the Unites States.

The writers insist that the issue of poverty has not been researched properly yet, because few citizens recognize that tragedy has many faces. According to Smiley and West, “In 21st century America, the poor are no longer just the permanently unemployable, the recently incarcerated, or the mentally ill,” which means that the poverty problem expands and influences people from different sides (13). The authors emphasize that preventions have not been done, thus, the financial difficulties turn into a snowball: “Revised Census numbers released in 2011 revealed that the number of Americans living in poverty was closer to 50 million” (Smiley and West 16).

Smiley and West have made a great contribution to the lives of the population through giving hope to those who consider themselves to be lost and lonely. They explain that many people go through the same horror, but the blame must be put on the administration: “Her letter to the local newspaper, based on her family’s experience, was an attempt to give voice to the voiceless” (Smiley and West 23). Other authors confirm their assumption, too, and underline that the poverty circumstances could be improved with the help of thoughtful taxation system (Mooney, Knox, and Schacht 203). Nevertheless, according to Royce, “The most telling fact about poverty in the United States is how thoroughly it is ignored” (1). Smiley and West do not only suggest many facts, but also give solutions in terms of developing equality between different citizens’ layers (44). They are convinced that, without turning from the wrong direction to the right one, the country is doomed to the deterioration, image loss, and unfavorable position in the political arena.

The Work’s Style and Writing Techniques

Smiley and West have used various writing techniques for two reasons: to reach a large number of people and to touch their emotional side. According to Moore and Lan Cassel, “In some sense, all writing is constructed to persuade an audience” (14). The book writers have achieved their main objective by composing simple sentences, which include as many details as possible (Saddler 8). Additionally, they were not afraid of experiments, combining different pieces of information to join emotional influence with processed statistical data (Kemper, Meyer, Van Rys, and Sebranek 202). The result impresses with its frankness, preciseness, and coherence. On the other hand, Smiley and West do not leave their reader to handle many discoveries on their own: they guide users all the time by structuring paragraphs in a clever and professional manner (MacRae 51). At first, the authors show verified and reliable data, then, in order not to make numbers “dry,” they mix it with people’s interviews, which describe how poverty influences their life.

The passages are subjected to the traditional writing principle, which comprises a topic sentence and supporting details (Sorenson 18). The authors provide many examples, illustrations, and reasons while not forgetting about transitions for the smoother run of the poverty evidence (Sorenson 21). Additionally, they avoid long descriptions to make the text more interesting and appealing. The writers know how to structure the book depending on information importance and priority by keeping the reader in thoughtful tension.

Smiley and West have used multiple kinds of writing techniques. Though they had to deal with different aspects of people’s destinies and go through sufferings and despair together with the book characters, they managed to remain objective and professional. The writing technique dealing with ethical representation is “ethos” (Moore and Lan Cassel 15). The masterpiece possesses credibility due to the authors’ thorough research of the poverty topic and fair introduction of available information.

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The book has two major purposes: to inform and to persuade that the nation must take rapid actions to tackle the poverty problem. For this reason, it includes such writing techniques as “Logos” and “Pathos,” because the first one is necessary to present data and the second one – to call to the emotional side of readers. According to Moore and Lan Cassel, “Pathos refers to an arguments’ emotional appeal and can be thought of in terms of an audience’s proclivities” (15). For example, “When was the last time you cried?” is pathos because a person cannot remain impartial when other individual feels bad (Smiley and West 15). Logos often deals with statistical data to bring evidence: “She and her husband Todd had both done all the right things. Both were college-educated; they enjoyed a solidly middle class, combined annual income of $85,000” (Smiley and West 15). The authors give undisputable facts which show the worst influence of the poverty problem because it touches even children whose destinies are broken from their birth. Additionally, Smiley and West realize that the number of adults who are paralyzed with their cruel everyday routine is also huge, and they provide information that touches many people who recognize themselves in pathos: “The theory for a long time-coming not only from the right but also from some Democrats – is that poverty means that there’s something wrong with your character, that you’ve got bad habits, you’ve got a bad lifestyle, you’ve made the wrong choices” (22). The writers consider the topic from different perspectives not to let a person be apathetic.

Audience Analysis

Consequently, Smiley and West have tried to fulfill the interest of multiple audiences: the more people they attract, the bigger contribution their book will make to the United States. The authors’ thesis includes their intentions not only to describe the poverty problem, which includes many aspects, but also to make necessary changes to liquidate it as soon as possible (Hermida 127). The writers treat the topic professionally, using a simple language to turn to various categories of readers (Smith-Worthington and Jefferson 30). They have no fear while expressing their judgments concerning the current situation of the majority.


Smiley and West went beyond their targets, because even those who did not take the poverty seriously due to possessing of fortunate personal circumstances begin to realize that the problem is intense, and they cannot stay aside (Prior and Perrigan). The authors turn to the entire country and call to actions before it has not lost its leading position in the world. They insist that, at the moment, the poverty is a tragedy of particular individuals, but it can turn into a collapse of the United States. The writers impress the readers with their courage and readiness to put their lives at stake in order to accomplish their objectives.

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