A Different Shade of Gray

Midlife and Beyond in the Inner City

An original look at urban aging by the Robert F. Kennedy Book Prize winner

“Moving and compelling . . . the first comprehensive and definitive study of the challenges facing older inner-city residents.” —William Jules Wilson

In a book that Robert B. Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor, called “provocative and insightful . . . combining revealing details about specific people with thoughtful analysis of the trends that have shaped their lives,” Katherine S. Newman, former dean of social sciences at Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and award-winning author of No Shame in My Game, exposes a growing but largely invisible group of Americans: the aging urban underclass.

While an increasing portion of the U.S. population is about to retire—the number of Americans over age sixty-five is expected to double to seventy million in the next thirty years—the experience of middle and old age, as Newman shows, differs dramatically for whites and minorities, for the middle class and the poor, and for those living in the suburbs versus the city. Focusing on the lives of elderly African Americans and Latinos in pockets of New York City where wages are low, crime is often high, and the elderly have few support systems they can rely on, A Different Shade of Gray provides “a well-documented portrait of a little-examined group” (Kirkus Reviews).


“A very thoughtful and clear picture of growing old in the inner city.”
Clamor Magazine
“An excellent work.”
Library Journal
“A much-needed counterweight to the endless streams of publications that feature golden older people enjoying wealth and good health.”
American Journal of Sociology

Goodreads Reviews