The result was a groundbreaking study of the urban poor. dissertation “for myself and a five-person committee,” it was discovered by Little, Brown and published in 1967 as retains its relevance: the book has been cited in 145 scholarly articles since 1985, and it remains a staple in bookstores and in high-school and college classes.
With the pen of a novelist and the eye of an anthropologist, Liebow charted the unwritten codes and behaviors that governed life at 11th and M, carefully guarding the identities of his subjects and even the precise location of the corner—until now. Its total sales approach 750,000, and the paperback is now in its 31st printing, says editor-in-chief Bill Phillips.
Apart from its shadowy drug traffic, the intersection does little to distinguish itself.
On the northwest corner squats a cluster of drab townhouses, built in the subsidized box-style circa 1978; south across M Street is the blocky office of the African Methodist Episcopal Church; and across 11th, beside Zelinka, stands the 11-M convenience mart and dry cleaner.
One more time, Liebow's eyes and ears will provide a glimpse inside the heads and hearts of the downtrodden—whom most of us recognize but seldom see.
If When Liebow first reported for duty at 11th and M in January 1962, virtually everyone on the corner was black.
Tragically, it looked as if would achieve the honor of outliving its author.
Seven years later, Elliot Liebow is still with us, thanks in part to an experimental drug he found in Canada.
“I still have trouble looking at the because of those damn ads,” Liebow admits.
In New York, Liebow met and married a Brooklynite named Harriet Hirsch.