In this narrative analysis, Mr. Andrew examines the underlying ideas and principal objectives of the most ambitious and controversial American reform effort since the New Deal. “An acute examination.”—Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post. American Ways Series.
This succinct survey of President Lyndon Johnson's Great Society initiative and its aftermath recounts the genesis and fates of the various programs that today will evoke a wave of nostalgia in those old enough to remember them, inter alia, the War on Poverty, Model Cities, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, Head Start. Andrew (The Other Side of the Sixties) is fair and humane as he dissects the individual components of the Great Society and evaluates their successes and failures while pointing out what he considers to have been flaws in the conception and design of some of the programs. Citing the period of the mid-'60s that gave birth to the Great Society as "a liberal interlude unmatched in the twentieth century... and unlikely to recur in the foreseeable future," Andrew argues that the biggest failure of the Great Society was "its lack of understanding and appreciation for the challenges it confronted. Once Americans saw the scope of the task, its complexity and costs overwhelmed them." This account is especially useful for helping us understand why though we're a people of wildly differing extremes of wealth, we have been dismantling federal welfare for our citizens.