A Nation in Denial Summary
by Alice S. Baum, Donald W. Burnes

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A Nation in Denial

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

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The authors of A NATION IN DENIAL draw on extensive documentary research as well interviews with homeless people to present an overview of this national disgrace. They present compelling evidence to show that even the total number of homeless people is underestimated because neither the public nor its representatives want to acknowledge the seriousness of the situation.

Baum and Burnes, who have extensive professional experience working with the poor and homeless, assert that up to eighty-five percent of the homeless, or approximately 250,000 people, have serious problems with alcohol, drugs, and mental illness. Consequently, they cannot be helped with what the authors call “Band-Aid remedies” such as job training and subsidized housing. They need government-funded programs to provide psychotherapy and substance-abuse counseling before they can reenter the mainstream.

The authors cite successful small-scale programs in order to support their contention that homelessness is not a hopeless problem if the media, the public, and the lawmakers will stop denying obvious truths.

With its many graphs, subheadings, indented quotations, and painstaking documentation, A NATION IN DENIAL has the appearance and tone of a college textbook.

It contains thirty-three pages of endnotes and sixteen pages of bibliography. Although the book is written in layman’s language, it demands close attention. It includes a history of homelessness in America for the past 350 years. The authors have received considerable praise for doing an excellent job of covering the complex, highly controversial problem of homelessness and offering practical solutions.