From Opportunity to Entitlement: The Transformation and Decline of Great Society Liberalism / Edition 1

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"Reading Davies's account, one sees afresh how the Great Society became the Great Punching Bag for a generation of conservatives and neoconservatives."—Hugh Heclo, author of A Government of Strangers

"Davies's excellent book rests on extraordinarily deep research, is written with clarity and verve, and deserves a wide readership."—James T. Patterson, author of Grand Expectations: The United States, 1945-1974

Author Biography: Gareth Davies is a lecturer in American studies at the University of Lancaster.

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Editorial Reviews

American Historical Review
An insightful inquiry into the march of the liberals away from the center and into the political wilderness.
American Politics Review
In this exceptional book Davies charts the changing nature of Great Society liberalism from the early 1960s through the early 1970s. In fascinating detail he tells the story of how many leading liberals, including senior members of the Johnson administration, began to see the methods initially chosen to fight the War on Poverty as inadequate. His book not only deserves but needs to be read by any student of the 1960s and American liberalism, or anyone interested in the contemporary welfare reform debate.
Davies's argument is so well constructed that it merits serious attention from all students interested in the making and unmaking of Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. Highly recommended.
Journal of American History
A lively, exceptionally readable, and, on the whole, convincing analysis of the downward path of the welfare state in the United States.
Journal of Politics
A well-written, coherent, and rich portrait of a turbulent era.
Recent welfare debates sometimes invoke Lyndon Johnson's and Franklin Roosevelt's names as the promiscuous fathers of an errant welfare system, yet in reality both the "New Deal" and the "War on Poverty" were responses to a nation in crisis and also rooted in ethics closer to today's rhetoric than short-sighted readers of history would lead us to believe. Davies' examination of welfare philosophy, LBJ, the swirl of the civil rights movement, riots, and Vietnam economics traces a liberalism that embraced personal responsibility, and then abandoned the ethic in a "politics of dissent" discourse. Although the author restores the good names of Roosevelt and Johnson by his careful scholarship and even handed historical treatment, the question still remains: What is a nation's responsibility to its poor? Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700609949
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 8/28/1999
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 324
  • Sales rank: 1,421,811
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.07 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 Historical Context of the War on Poverty 10
2 War on Dependency: Liberal Individualism and the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 30
3 Race and Poverty: Redefining Equality, 1964-1965 54
4 Watts and Its Aftermath: Rise of the Income Strategy 75
5 Vietnam, Black Power, and the Decline of the Great Society 105
6 Political Polarization and the Search for a New Liberalism 131
7 Welfare Reform and the Crisis of Liberalism: 1967 157
8 Liberalism and Governance, 1967-1968 185
9 Zenith of the Entitlements Revolution: Liberalism and the Family Assistance Plan 211
Conclusion 235
Notes 245
Bibliography 293
Index 305
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