Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society

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Overview

Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society was the most ambitious and controversial American reform effort since the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt. Conceived in a time of prosperity rather than devastating depression, it sought to forge a consensus that rested on ideals rather than harsh economic realities. In this narrative analysis, John Andrew examines the underlying ideas and principal objectives of Great Society legislation in the areas of civil rights, poverty, health, education, urban life, and consumer issues—legislation that addressed some of the most important and complex problems facing American society in the mid-1960s. These efforts in some way touched the lives of most Americans. But, as Mr. Andrew points out, LBJ’s consensus could persist only by avoiding divisive issues. As times changed and the economy deteriorated, the mood of the nation shifted, and the ideals of the mid-sixties collapsed in the face of ideological and political polarization. In the end, as Mr. Andrew shows, much of the Great Society failed along with the idealism that had sparked it. Yet the issues it addressed proved so intractable that the search for solutions continues to generate political controversy even today.

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Editorial Reviews

Washington Post
“Andrew's aim is to see the Great Society clearly, free of the distortions of partisan politics, and to an impressive degree he succeeds.”
— Jonathan Yardley
Choice
Concise and cogent...an evenhanded analysis of the legacy of the Great Society.
— A. J. Dunar
Rapport
“A must read for everyone.”
H-Net Reviews
“Andrew takes on all of the major policy initiatives of the period in admirable detail...a remarkable feat.”
— Richard Flanagan
Presidential Studies Quarterly
“Sprightly...a valuable addition to the current research on arguably the most turbulent American decade of the twentieth century.”
— H. Warren Gardner
CHOICE
“Concise and cogent...an evenhanded analysis of the legacy of the Great Society.”
— A. J. Dunar
H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online
“Andrew takes on all of the major policy initiatives of the period in admirable detail...a remarkable feat.”
— Richard Flanagan
Review Of Higher Education
Andrew's aim is to see the Great Society clearly, free of the distortions of partisan politics, and to an impressive degree he succeeds.
— Jonathan Yardley
CHOICE - A. J. Dunar
“Concise and cogent...an evenhanded analysis of the legacy of the Great Society.”
H-Net: Humanities and Social Science Reviews Online - Richard Flanagan
“Andrew takes on all of the major policy initiatives of the period in admirable detail...a remarkable feat.”
Presidential Studies Quarterly - H. Warren Gardner
“Sprightly...a valuable addition to the current research on arguably the most turbulent American decade of the twentieth century.”
Review Of Higher Education - Jonathan Yardley
“Andrew's aim is to see the Great Society clearly, free of the distortions of partisan politics, and to an impressive degree he succeeds.”
Choice
“Concise and cogent...an evenhanded analysis of the legacy of the Great Society.”
— A. J. Dunar
Flanagan
Andrew takes on all of the major policy initiatives of the period in admirable detail...a remarkable feat.
H-Net Reviews
Andrew J. Dunar
Concise and cogent...an evenhanded analysis of the legacy of the Great Society.
Choice
H. Warren Gardner
Sprightly...a valuable addition to the current research on arguably the most turbulent American decade of the twentieth century.
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Jonathan Yardley
An acute examination. . . . Andrew's aim is to see the Great Society clearly, free of the 'distortions' of partisan politics, and to an impressive degree he succeeds.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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. (Mar.)
Booknews
Focuses on the US president's domestic program, the most ambitious since the New Deal of the 1930s. Argues that the consensus he forged in such areas as civil rights, poverty, health, education, urban life, and consumer issues was possible only by avoiding divisive issues. Concludes that the proposals made during prosperity lost much appeal as the economy deteriorated and the ideals of the 1960s collapsed into polarization. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Jonathan Yardley
Andrew's aim is to see the Great Society clearly, free of the 'distortions' of partisan politics, and to an impressive degree he succeeds.
Washing Post
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781566631853
  • Publisher: Dee, Ivan R. Publisher
  • Publication date: 2/9/1999
  • Series: American Ways Series
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 707,264
  • Product dimensions: 5.51 (w) x 8.38 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

John A. Andrew III died shortly after completing the writing of Power to Destroy. He was professor of history at Franklin & Marshall College and the author of The Other Side of the Sixties, among other books.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Introduction 3 Chapter 2 Defining characteristics of the Great Society. The tax cut. The Johnson task forces. The 1964 election. Part 3 FROM CIVIL RIGHTS TO RACE 23 Chapter 4 The 1964 Civil Rights Act. The Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Moynihan Report. Affirmative action and urban riots. Civil rights moves north. The Civil Rights Act of 1968. Part 5 THE WAR ON POVERTY 56 Chapter 6 Social scientists and poverty. Johnson's alternative paths to combat poverty. The debate over legislation. The Economic Opportunity Act of 1964. Problems that undermined the war. Head Start. The continuing debate over assessments of the war. Part 7 HEALTH AND EDUCATION 95 Chapter 8 Debates over medical care for the aged. Legislation and problems. A rising tide of criticism. Federal aid to education. Failures in the Kennedy administration. Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. The interaction of education and race. Part 9 MODEL CITIES 131 Chapter 10 Urban renewal in the 1950s. The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1965. The New Haven experience. Urban riots and Model Cities. The problems of urban revival and the 1967 Detroit riot. The Kerner Commission and the urban crisis in 1968. The Housing Act Part 11 QUALITY OF LIFE 163 Chapter 12 Consumer issues and Ralph Nader. Consumer protection legislation. The business reaction. Beautification and the environment lead to environmental protection efforts. The promotion of national cutlural life. Combating crime. The fading dream of a postscarc Part 13 ASSESSING THE GREAT SOCIETY 183 Chapter 14 The Great Society as a liberal interlude. Changes since the 1960s. The influence of Great Society programs. Challenges to critics. Part 15 A Note on Sources 200 Part 16 Index 208

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