How a Century of Homelessness Shaped America
In this eye-opening work of American history, Todd DePastino tells the epic story of hobohemia's rise and fall, and crafts a stunning new interpretation of the "American century" in the process. Drawing on sources ranging from diaries, letters, and police reports to movies and memoirs, Citizen Hobo breathes life into the largely forgotten world of the road, but it also, crucially, shows how the hobo army so haunted the American body politic that it prompted the creation of an entirely new social order and political economy. DePastino shows how hoboes—with their reputation as dangers to civilization, sexual savages, and professional idlers—became a cultural and political force, influencing the creation of welfare state measures, the promotion of mass consumption, and the suburbanization of America. Citizen Hobo's sweeping retelling of American nationhood in light of enduring struggles over "home" does more than chart the change from "homelessness" to "houselessness." In its breadth and scope, the book offers nothing less than an essential new context for thinking about Americans' struggles against inequality and alienation.
Part I: The Rise of Hobohemia, 1870-1920
1. "The Great Army of Tramps"
The Making of America's Tramp Army
Tasting from the "Fountain of Indolence": Origin Myths of Tramping
2. The Other Side of the Road
"The Broken Home Circle"
From Patriarch to Pariah
"From the Fraternity of Haut Beaus"
3. "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum!"
The Opening of the Wageworkers' Frontier
The Main Stem
"(White) Man's Country"
Part II: Hobohemia and Homelessness in the Early Twentieth Century
4. The Politics of Hobohemia
Organizing the Main Stem
"The Song of the Jungles"
5. "A Civilization without Homes"
Reforming the Main Stem
The "Hotel Spirit"
The Comic Tramp
Part III: Resettling the Hobo Army, 1920-1980
6. The Decline and Fall of Hobohemia
The Closing of the Wageworker's Frontier
7. Forgotten Men
A New Deal for the American Homeless
Folklores of Homelessness
8. Coming Home
The Decline and Fall of Skid Row
Dharma Bums and Easy Riders
Part IV: The Enduring Legacy: Homelessness and American Culture Since 1980
9. Rediscovering Homelessness
The New Homeless
Romancing the Road, Surviving the Streets
"This vivid narrative succeeds in provoking new questions about the role of homelessness in shaping American history."