In the fifty years since it was published, The Other America has been established as a seminal work of sociology. This anniversary edition includes Michael Harrington’s essays on poverty in the 1970s and ’80s as well as a new introduction by Harrington’s biographer, Maurice Isserman. This illuminating, profoundly moving classic is still all too relevant for today’s America.
When Michael Harrington’s masterpiece, The Other America, was first published in 1962, it was hailed as an explosive work and became a galvanizing force for the war on poverty. Harrington shed light on the lives of the poor—from farm to city—and the social forces that relegated them to their difficult situations. He was determined to make poverty in the United States visible and his observations and analyses have had a profound effect on our country, radically changing how we view the poor and the policies we employ to help them.
Harrington's classic account of an isolated and self-perpetuating underclass was originally published in 1962.
Classic Analysis of Poverty, Still Relevant
Democratic Socialist Michael Harrington wrote this masterpiece in 1961 and was one of the few modern American socialists to influence public policy. The Other America was widely read and well received, catching the attention of Kennedy and LBJ. Harrington's sociology analysis of poverty uncovers the complex "vicious cycle" of poverty and the "culture of poverty," which he saw as the consequence of social forces (economics, inequality, etc.) not the CAUSE of poverty. He advocated a huge jobs program and massive public investment to fight poverty and lift the economic boat for The Other America. LBJ launched a tepid "war on poverty," that did reduce poverty significantly in the 1960s, but he focused on another war--Vietnam. The political elites decided to focus on the less costly "culture of poverty" rather than address the root causes of poverty. The inflation and stagflation of the 1970s, and the Social Darwinism of Reaganomics in the 1980s erased much of the success of the "war on poverty" and we now have an "official" poverty rate of over 15%. But the poverty rate was cut in half in the 1960s largely because of the policies of LBJ, and Harrington had some influence in that. With the 50th Anniversary of The Other America, and poverty and unemployment back up to the levels of the Great Depression, it is time for a new War on Poverty, and Harrington's classic analysis of the sociological roots of poverty is a must read.
Complete mistake to read
I read this book due to all the references to it in Amity shlaes’ book “Great Society”. I foolishly thought it might have some insights I’ve missed in life, but it doesn’t. It contains the usual diatribes and excuses to explain how America is screwed up. What the author means with his title “The Other America” is that the the government should confiscate from “the haves” and give all to the “have nots”...so that everybody is poor except for the enlightened elite that rule us. Sounds like Communism to me...which is what the author was.