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Life at the Bottom The Worldview That Makes the Underclass

By Theodore Dalrymple
Ivan R. Dee 2001 ISBN: 9781566633826

About the Book

Here is a searing account—probably the best yet published—of life in the underclass and why it persists as it does. Theodore Dalrymple, a British psychiatrist who treats the poor in a slum hospital and a prison in Engalnd, has seemingly seen it all. Yet in listening to and in observing his patients, he is continually astonished by the latest twist of depravity that exceeds even his own considerable experience. Dalrymple’s key insight in Life at the Bottom is that long-term poverty is caused not by economics but by a dysfunctional set of values, one that is continually reinforced by an elite culture searching for victims. This culture persuades those at the bottom that they have no responsibility for their actions and are not the molders of their own lives. Drawn from the pages of the cutting-edge political and cultural quarterly City Journal, Dalrymple’s book draws upon scores of eye-opening, true-life vignettes that are by turns hilariously funny, chillingly horrifying, and all too revealing—sometimes all at once. And Dalrymple writes in prose that transcends journalism and achieves the quality of literature.

About the Author

Theodore Dalrymple is a physician and psychiatrist who practices in England. He writes a column for the London Spectator, contributes frequently to the Daily Telegraph, and is a contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute’s City Journal. His other books include Mass Listeria and So Little Done. He lives in Birmingham, England.


Living and Dying in Socialist Britain, Liberty, December 2002
The Age of Bad Ideas, New Criterion, January 2002
Underclass exemplifies poor way to live, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, December 16, 2001
Review by Thomas Sowell,, November 1, 2001
Review, Publisher’s Weekly