The Tragedy of American Compassion

The Tragedy of American Compassion

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by Marvin Olasky

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The fifteenth anniversary reissue of this groundbreaking book has a new foreword and preface to encourage a historically and biblically based approach to welfare.

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The fifteenth anniversary reissue of this groundbreaking book has a new foreword and preface to encourage a historically and biblically based approach to welfare.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
This is a richly documented, controversial history of the welfare state as seen from a conservative political perspective. The system is generous with money but stingy on human involvement, argues Olasky, a University of Texas journalism professor: compassion means tough love in which those who give must demand self-help from those who receive. But Olasky adds a proviso that the giver too must be personally involved. He holds up the example of 19th-century charity workers, whose religious beliefs made them compassionate and willing to deal intimately with the poor, rather than dispensing money to them through government agencies. There's plenty of social history here--from Horace Greeley, soup kitchens and orphan asylums to today's homeless impasse. Olasky does not blame the system for poverty. He faults the poor, along with social workers back to Jane Addams and the founders of the settlement house movement. (June)

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What People are saying about this

From the Publisher

"One of the 50 most influential policy books of all time."

"A richly documented, controversial history of the welfare state."
Publisher's Weekly

"Significant changes in government social welfare policy have unfolded since The Tragedy of American Compassion emerged in 1992-just think about the paradigm-shifting federal welfare reform of 1996. Both the book's critics and its promoters would argue that Olasky's ideas mattered and gave shape, to some degree, to some of those changes."
Amy L. Sherman, Senior Fellow, Sagamore Institute for Policy Research; author, Kingdom Calling: Vocational Stewardship for the Common Good

"Those who read and understand Olasky's work will be better prepared to move creatively in affirming the dignity of the poor, and in affirming work as a virtue."
John M. Perkins, President, John M. Perkins Foundation for Reconciliation and Development

"For domestic policy understanding, no better book recommends itself than Marvin Olasky's splendid The Tragedy of American Compassion."
Orange County RegisterOrange County Register

"One of 'eight books that changed America.'"
Philanthropy Philanthropy

Colorado Gazette-TelegraphColorado Gazette-Telegraph

Wall Street JournalWall Street Journal

"There is no disagreement between liberals and conservatives about whether to help the lot of the poor, but there is grave disagreement about how to help them, especially because the wrong kind of 'help' is more likely to harm. In The Tragedy of American Compassion, Marvin Olasky shows that although government can assist the merciful efforts of persons, organizations, and communities of faith, it cannot take their place."
J. Budziszewski, Professor of Government and Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin; Author of What We Can't Not Know: A Guide

"A comprehensive, well documented, and much needed study of the decline of true compassion that provides fresh analysis and provocative insight into the causes and cures of this American tragedy. Must reading for people who want to understand and help correct the plight of hurting people."
Anthony T. Evans, Founder, The Urban Alternative

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