A superb piece of work….Kim Burdick
“The Concrete Killing Fields” is a book that should be required reading for all sociology and urban affairs students. Written from the heart, it is based on the author’s experiences as a volunteer in a church that offers services to the homeless, and later as a staff person in Clinton’s campaign and at HUD. The book is divided into two parts. The first half is the most poignant and potent, bringing the plight of the homeless clearly into focus. Morgan makes it clear that there really is “a person under there.” Her empathy and compassion and her growing connections to these people in need are clearly and vibrantly expressed. The second half, about Morgan’s life and work in Washington, is not as gripping. But her recognition that homelessness is a multi-faceted problem made her work in public policy the right way to make the best impact. The two sections are loosely connected by her growing acceptance of the loss of her own mother at an early age. The word that best describes this book is “Genuine.” It is a superb piece of work.
It’s a wonderful book: simultaneously a searing personal account and a really smart policy prescription. I can only say about the personal side that it’s what makes Pat the amazing person she is. It might also explain a little about why she is a relentless advocate for not only the homeless individuals she serves but also for policies to fix the problem. Fact is, she echoes the very best research and thinking about homelessness, namely that it’s not just a housing issue. She sees the ravages of mental illness and substance abuse as causes and lack of housing as the result. This book should be in the arsenal of every advocate seeking to focus social service resources on the homeless population.
The words just flowed, and I didn’t want to put the book down….Mary Richards
Pat Morgan’s book, The Concrete Killing Fields, had quite an impact on me. First of all, Pat is such an excellent writer that the words just flowed, and I didn’t want to put the book down. I feel, after having read the book that I know Pat Morgan as a tenacious person harboring a huge heart. I would even have to say it was an enjoyable read, even though the topics of homelessness, alcoholism, and mental illness are so serious, because Pat’s personality and sense of humor were weaved throughout. As someone who had a severely mentally ill brother, I am left with hope for the future, if more and more people pick up this book, or have a chance to hear Pat speak about just how debilitating mental illness and alcoholism can be. I’d like to thank Ms. Morgan for devoting her life to people like my brother. I salute her efforts, and intend to get more involved in helping solve the problem of homelessness, in honor of him.
This book came at the right time in my life. It helped me deal with relationship issues that were going on in my own life. I have been working with a homeless group in Down Town Memphis for the past 5 years as did Pat Morgan. The stories Pat shared reminded me why I continue to do what I do. Homeless in Memphis need love and compassion, like the love and compassion Pat Morgan gave to her homeless friends. I needed a reminder that what I am doing is worth giving of my time. The struggles Pat endured throughout her life will continue to resonate in my mind and help me deal with my own struggles as I think about the reading of this book. This book has truly been life changing. It is a must read regardless of your involvement with homeless people.
Pat Morgan has written a candid and all-too-familiar account of those lost (and found) souls who have been homeless, as well her amazing journey to be an agent of positive change in the political corridors of Washington. No small feat for this single mom whose mission started in Tennessee! “Home” is not just a word, it is a place of refuge and acceptance. And it is not just where you lay your head, but also where you nurture your dreams. At times emotionally ‘raw,’ her story is riveting and so absolutely refreshing because she reveals her most authentic and honest self. She writes with a warmth and wit that welcomes the reader into her world and her heart…and she touches a chord that is universal to us all: finding where we belong. We need more people like Pat, to help make our world a better place, where everyone can belong. Thank you, to this courageous woman, for her commitment to ending homelessness, for making homeless people and their issues more ‘real’, and for inspiring us to live out our purpose, wherever it may lead! This book is a ‘must-have’ for anyone who seeks to improve themselves and wants to challenge the status-quo.
An unflinching look at homelessness with heart and humor. After reading the book, I met Pat in person and she is truly extraordinary. This isn’t a “do-gooder” who has written a book about “poor people.” It’s a book that gives dignity to homeless people and yet considers what could have been done differently so that their lives could have turned out differently. This book has heart and soul. If you care about fellow human beings, read this.
Pat Morgan migrated from the upscale to the low scale and back, from the world of banking and real estate into rescuing and healing the dregs of urban existence: the dying and wish-they-were, victims of alcoholism, post-traumatic stress, and homelessness. What rockets this compelling story into the stratosphere is how her work saving people from the street leads her to realize that she herself is in need of help. She describes how both of her parents died when she was young, and that possibly her mother’s death occurred as a result of Pat’s own careless anger, something she’s never gotten over. And that her odyssey through public health system has been an unconscious expression of her need for self-discovery and healing. This private story serves as the driving force of the book, neatly arranged as bookends for the story of her remarkable public service.
This book is a real “keeper”….June Greene
Few books have captured me quite like this book. The writing flows, is so beautiful and at the same time so appealing to my emotions, that I was either grinning, laughing, pondering or had tears trickling off my chin. The difficulties Mrs. Morgan has faced, conquered or come to terms with in her quest to help the homeless are so subtly presented that I was totally caught up and wanted to rush to find her next adventure. Yet the way the words are put together I found myself reading whole sections aloud just for the pleasure of hearing them, then rereading to hear them again. Mrs. Morgan has found and expressed some real meanings of life and how we can find joy and fulfillment in trying to live up to these meanings. I have told many people about ‘Concrete Killing Fields’ and its many messages. They have all agreed that this book is a real “Keeper”, one you want to keep near to be able to pick up and enjoy a part of, or the whole book again and again. What a great writer Mrs. Morgan is and how wonderfully she has dealt with this important subject. How we hope there will be a new book soon for us to savor and learn from.
I LOVED IT!! I could barely put it down all weekend and I was so pleasantly surprised. To be honest, I kind of thought it would be depressing and make me feel guilty. Instead, I loved the way it read like a story and I was left inspired. I enjoyed the stories and bits of humor. I also really enjoyed how I was familiar geographically with places in the book and thought it was so funny that little ol’ Manila, my hometown, was mentioned. And in my opinion, I thought ending it with the JFK quote was perfect.
A stunning book. Written with passion and love, Pat Morgan speaks the truth with candor and humor. She obeys the first rule of good writing: write what you know. And she knows a lot. If you have ever been approached by a person asking for money, read this book. If you have ever walked around a person sleeping on the sidewalk, read this book. If you have ever worried and wondered what to do about the embarrassing and shameful problem of homelessness in the land of the free and the home of the brave, read this book. And if you just want a good read to help you make better sense of your own life and what you might choose to do with it, read this book. Read it and then buy a copy for someone you love.
What a great book, story and writer. Pat Morgan has a heart of gold. We should all learn from her life experiences. Her compassion for the less fortunate and strength to make a difference. The Concrete killing fields is a book you do not want to put down. Hopefully we as humans will learn to have more compassion for the people that we avoid, won’t look at or care what happened to them. It will inspire you to want to be more. More caring more compassionate. And maybe find your purpose in life. This book should be in every library and a mandatory read for any and all health care workers.
Read this book if you are a service provider….P. Connor Ph.D
Pat Morgan’s book is a wonderful read; it is inspirational, instructional, and should be mandatory reading for all students who are considering a health services profession. Pat’s book allows the reader to truly connect with homeless individuals and families. You learn to know them by name, disease state, and emotional fragility .You being to understand the why’s and how’s of homeless moms as well as the plight of their children. It also makes you appreciate all that you have, and all that you have not had to experience on a very personal level. Again, read this book if you are a service provider …it will change you in an unexpected way.
I am grateful to Pat Morgan for providing insight and value to these persons we each pass on the streets and on most corners in every city. I will never look at them in the same way again. She is a modern day Mother Teresa! Seriously her dedication and love for the most vulnerable in our society is admirable. I learned so much of what goes on in the “system,” the politics and the need. Thank you for placing value and bringing dignity to a much misinterpreted people.
Pat Morgan’s book is an important story of not only the individuals who find themselves homeless but how one person doggedly spent decades in the pursuit to understanding the reason and lobbying for ways to care. AND – she writes well. Up until now I have never seen the issue of homelessness addressed in more than a superficial way. Yes, your life will be changed by reading this book and passing it on for others to better understand homelessness.
Loved this book. Pat Morgan has a great passion and compassion for the homeless. She also interweaves her interesting life into the story of her work in Memphis and DC. You won’t regret reading this one!
This is a compassionate and gritty story of the countless homeless people Pat Morgan has known and helped over the years. It’s also a fascinating and candid memoir of her own life journey, including her foray into political activism, presidential campaign politics, and the story of how she finally confronted and came to terms with a long-buried trauma of her own. Pat Morgan writes from the heart and tells it the way it is. Her spunky personality shines through in her writing, showing her sense of humor, wit, and resourcefulness in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
I could not put this book down. Pat Morgan is truly a voice for the homeless as she weaves her own life story into the stories of those she encountered on the streets. I loved “meeting” her homeless friends through her words and held on to every aspect of their lives on the street. This book touched every emotion I have. I will never look at life on the streets in the same way. I loved this book and am awaiting a second book from Pat Morgan!
Heartfelt and compelling….Laura
An engaging and inspirational piece, this is a journey of one woman’s dreams becoming reality. Morgan brings us into an enlightening conversation of her struggles and simple human connections to the culture of “invisible people” in our community. The struggles and solutions between the homeless, Washington and basic humanitarian desires are brought to surface. Heartfelt and compelling, Morgan invites us into a conversation as if told from her couch.
Inspiring story of one woman’s tireless effort to create national policy changes to end homelessness. She’s a captivating storyteller who recounts many homeless men and women’s personal stories and her struggles of trying to help individuals within a flawed system. After volunteering for years with homeless programs, she returns to college (at the age of fifty!) for a specialized degree program. She eventually works her way into the Clinton Administration where she creates national policies to end homelessness. Incredible woman and incredible book!
Start with the fact that Pat Morgan is a gifted writer. Then add remarkable qualities of character: unflinching honesty, endless empathy and compassion – and true grit. The experiences she recounts rip away the blinders that too many wear as they travel the roads of their cities without being moved by the sad reality. Like Edwin Markham’s “The Man with a Hoe,” the power of her book is its ability to inspire others to work as diligently as she has to make a difference.
This story is amazing! Well told and well written! Inspirational, engaging, and challenging. Pat Morgan writes with pathos and conviction from a realm of real world experience. This book should be required reading for every sociology class in every college in America and for all people who want to help the homeless but wonder where to begin and how to make a difference. This memoir is instructive and uplifting. I am so glad I read it. Tell us more, Pat, tell us more.
All of us who live in a city (or town) are aware of those who are homeless—in many ways a sad commentary on our social, economic, and healthcare systems. In The Concrete Killing Fields, Pat Morgan tells the heart-rending story of those who, in most instances, have fallen through the cracks of social, health, and human assistance in Memphis, Tennessee. But their stories are those of homeless throughout the country. The idea for Killing Fields has nothing to do with the author but, rather, with people who slept under bridges or in trash bins, who begged for food or a bit of change downtown, who had mental or other health issues but didn’t know where to turn, and who needed a shoulder.
Herself a victim of desperate life conflicts, Pat Morgan’s voice and the voices of the homeless come through loudly and clearly in this book. Her language is truthful, earthy, strong, and vivid, but never self-pitying. The stories she shares are likewise the same, and the threads throughout the book are Alepeachie, a homeless man, and Pat’s own saga to help him and those who need a chuck under the chin, a smile, a bit of help to get back on the road to a home. The story is also about what a church and some committed members did to start changing the lives of some of those downtrodden.
This book should be read by everyone who lives in a town or city, every politician who (in campaign speeches) cares about the downtrodden, mental healthcare experts, and social activists (or wannabees). The ending isn’t the happiest you’ve ever read, but neither is it the most depressing. The Concrete Killing Fields is a testament to what one person with a lot of guts and determination can do to effect change.
You’ll Be Shaken Out of Your Comfort Zone, and Glad For It; A Moving and inspiring story….Connoisseur
Pat Morgan has had no easy life by anyone’s measure, and almost as grizzly as life in the impoverished, hardscrabble, backwater speck on the map where she grew up in rural Arkansas was her career on the streets of one of America’s poorest cities where she fought to acknowledge, serve, comprehend, and then try to serve better the forgotten people living in society’s darkest shadows. As she describes her coming to grips with her own past, she wraps her head around the root causes of homelessness. Her fierce determination to make a difference lands her in Washington where she brings her on-the-ground expertise to the formation of public policy. This is a moving and inspiring story of making change happen in your own life, on the streets where you live, and on the national stage.
The ‘Concrete Killing Fields’ is one of the best books I’ve read in years. It tells the stories of homeless people by a person who evidently spent countless hours by their sides. Pat Morgan is an excellent story teller – she includes humor, anger, fear, triumph, success and even parts of her own life’s story – all coming together in a touching and inspiring book that I hope receives the attention it well deserves. The travesties of a broken mental health system paint a picture that is so real and timely that it is difficult not to be enraged at its lack of funding. I highly recommend this book – you won’t be able to put it down.
I loved it….BB
This book will pull you into the world of Pat Morgan, a strong-willed woman whose journey leads her from a small town in Arkansas to the movers and shakers in Washington, DC, where she ultimately finds her calling. She returns to Memphis to spend her career helping understand and improve the lives of the many homeless people she encounters. She is a versatile writer and speaks from the heart. This is not just a book about homelessness; it is a book about one woman’s journey through life and where it ultimately takes her. I loved it.
Written in her charming, humorous, and delightful voice, The Concrete Killing Fields tells the story of a woman driven to make a difference. Pat has worked tirelessly, both on an individual, personal level and on a national policy level, to better the lives of homeless men and women. By sharing the stories of the homeless persons she has met along the way, Pat Morgan illustrates the humanity and personality behind an issue so many of us ignore and shy away from. This easy-to-read story of Pat’s journey takes us through the struggles and “warm fuzzies” and small victories and big losses of a woman on a mission. Her life has been anything but easy, but Pat Morgan continues to pursue her dreams, pushing towards her goal of being a voice for the thousands of voiceless people living on America’s streets, something she was most certainly called to do. It is encouraging and inspiring, and after turning the final page you will find yourself asking, “What can I do to better the lives of others?”
This is a wonderful tale of personal transformation from encounter with the gritty underside of our urban environments and the road to healing. Pat Morgan uncovers a world that is seldom seen and of which little is heard. A very good read.
After reading Pat Morgan’s excellent book, I have a new understanding of the on-the-ground issues related to our hard core homeless brothers and sisters. This makes me a better advocate.
A Must Read…. SNIP
This book is a must read -I could not put it down -it is a gripping account of a personal journey and the homeless in America.
If you looking to look into the lives of the misfortunate and understand how homelessness affect us all; you have to read this book. I was both blessed and inspired to act.