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Photograph by Judy Dater

Alison Owings, the author of three stereotype-challenging oral-history based books, is now writing a fourth — a micro examination of the macro American shame of homelessness. To this end, she has been conducting extensive interviews with (now) 69-year-old Del Seymour, “the mayor of the Tenderloin” in San Francisco, who was homeless 18 years. Before homelessness, instigated by crack addiction, he was a successful contractor and engineer, among other talents. After homelessness, he started an organization, Code Tenderloin, to help disenfranchised people of all backgrounds, especially African-American youths, become job ready.
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Alison’s last published book is Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans, a survey of what a wide variety of Native people have to say about contemporary life, and say with passion and humor. A starred review in Publishers Weekly says her interviews “achieve a remarkable level of intimacy,” and that “this engrossing, affecting book should be mandatory reading in American History classes.” People interviewed include individuals from the Hopi, Iroquois (Haudenosaunee), Kiowa, Lakota, Lemhi-Shoshone, Lumbee, Navajo, Ojibwe, Osage, Passamaquoddy, Pawnee, Penobscot, Yakama, Yup’ik, and Yurok nations… and a Hawai’ian…Read more about Indian Voices.

Updated with new words and phrases! Sometimes you need a phrasebook that does a lot more than tell you where the bathroom is. If you’re a woman in a country where you don’t speak the language, you might need more assistance. What if you want to flirt with that cute waiter in Paris? Or tell another guy he’s an insult to his village? (Read more.)

Most of us have sat across the tray from a waitress, but how many of us know what really is going on from her side? Hey, Waitress! aims to tell us. Containing lively, personal portraits of waitresses from many different walks of life, this book is the first of its kind to show the intimate, illuminating, and often shocking behind-the-scenes stories of waitresses’ daily shifts and daily lives. (Read more.)

Twenty-nine German women recall memories of the Third Reich. What they have to say will surprise Americans, just as they surprised the women themselves. Not since Marcel Ophuls’ controversial film The Sorrow and the Pity have we been on such intimate terms with “the enemy.” (Read more.)