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Matthew Desmond Books In Order

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Publication Order of Non-Fiction Books

On the Fireline (2007)Description / Buy at Amazon
Racial Domination, Racial Progress (With: Mustafa Emirbayer) (2009)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Racial Order (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Race in America (With: Mustafa Emirbayer) (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Evicted (2016)Description / Buy at Amazon
Poverty, by America (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

The 1619 Project(2019)Description / Buy at Amazon

About Matthew Desmond

The American social scientist and writer Matthew Desmond is a well articulated voice with a lot to say, providing plenty insight and perspective on a range of different issues. An urban ethnographer, he has an academic background that’s hugely influential, speaking with a distinctive clarity and precision. A professor and lecturer as well as a writer, he produces numerous pieces, while also teaching others and providing his learned opinion. Focusing on non-fiction work and titles, his writing is primarily academic in nature, as he’s produced essays and pieces for various different publications.

Winning awards such as the Pulitzer Prize, he’s worked with prize-winning authors as well, speaking out about a whole number of subjects. His work is respected by his many peers and contemporaries alike, while he also makes his writing accessible to readers worldwide. Speaking and writing in a manner that is both direct and to-the-point, he gets his ideas across in a manner that is easy to understand. All of this has led to his work making him a household name for many far and wide, with his writing reaching readers from all over.

Knowing his audience well at this point too, he always makes sure to see that his writing is nuanced in its outlook, while also having a voice of his own. With a clear message to provide through his writing, he always manages to get to the deeper underlying truths within whatever subject he’s trying to understand. Largely looking at public policy and poverty through his work, he seeks to understand them better as issues facing contemporary society today. With a lot more to follow on the horizon, he’s not finishing his writing career any time soon either, as he has a lot more planned.

Early and Personal Life

Born in either 1979 or 1980 by all accounts, Matthew Desmond was born and raised in San Jose, California, in the United States. Studying at Arizona State University as an undergraduate, he would gain a B.S. degree after graduating in 2002 ‘summa cum laude.’ Gaining the degree in communications and justice studies, he would then go on to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he’d receive his Ph.D. in Sociology.

Previously a professor at Harvard University, he would teach Social Sciences, being the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the subject there. Going on to produce academic work and texts, he would receive fellowships and awards for his writing, while continuing to tutor others as well. As a member of the American Philosophical Society which he joined in 2022, he continues to work, write, and teach to this very day.

Writing Career

One of the first books that Matthew Desmond would publish was titled ‘On the Fireline,’ which was brought out in 2008, and would look at firefighters. He’d later follow this up just one year later with his next book ‘Racial Domination, Racial Progress,’ which he’d publish in 2019 alongside fellow writer Mustafa Emirbayer. Another book he would write was titled ‘Evicted,’ which came out in 2016, looking at the issue of property and poverty in modern America.

Desmond also wrote various different articles and essays, many of which were for the ‘New York Times Magazine.’ Later he would also go on to write a chapter titled ‘Capitalism’ for ‘The 1619 Project,’ which was written and collated by the prestigious journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones. Speaking regularly, he has won several awards, including the Pulitzer Prize in 2017, as he maintains presence and public profile.

On the Fireline

Running under the subheading of ‘Living and Dying with Wildland Firefighters,’ this would be the first book from Matthew Desmond. Published in 2007 on the 30th of October, it would come out through the ‘University of Chicago Press’ imprint to much acclaim. Providing a non-fiction account of firefighters living and working in America, this stand-alone title would help to make his name as a writer.

Telling the story of real-life firefighters, this book looks at the profession, giving an insight into what the job actually takes. Exploring the wildland firefighter as an individual, Matthew Desmond relates his analysis and knowledge of the subject at hand. Joining a Northern Arizona firecrew himself, he provides a look at what it takes, and the dangers posed when undertaking firefighting. Showing their character and who they really are, it seeks to demystify them, getting behind the image of the romanticized hero.

Not only is the book a well-told account of the firefighting profession, it’s also a truly gripping account of the dangers faced. The book doesn’t hold back from telling it how it really is, making the reader feel as though they’re actually there and a part of it. Dealing with the Forest Service firefighters, it also looks at their own thoughts and feelings, and who they are as real people.


Brought out through ‘Crown Publishers’ this time, this book would arrive in 2016 on the 1st of March to a great deal of anticipation. A stand-alone work of non-fiction as well, it would this time go under the subheading of ‘Poverty and Profit in the American City.’ Set in Milwaukee, the book is a look at homelessness and poverty, using real-life accounts to form the basis of this book, and ground it as a real-life issue.

Following eight families within the vicinity of Milwaukee, Matthew Desmond sees them desperately attempt to keep themselves housed. Struggling to keep a roof over their heads, the book looks at economic exploitation and how it’s a problem when dealing with poverty. Offering fresh ideas to help deal with this destructive problem, the book grounds itself in potential real-world solutions to the issue at hand. While the families face loss, the book aims to offer hope, looking to the future with how the problems faced may be alleviated.

As a MacArthur ‘Genius’ it’s no wonder that Matthew Desmond can provide such a compelling account of such a destructive real-world problem. While the book is very intense at times, dealing with some extremely saddening issues, it makes sure to look at them in a sensitive and tactful way. The people Desmond talks to are also brought to life, as they really get to tell their story, engaging with the reader in a likeable and compelling manner.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Matthew Desmond

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