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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
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.
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
Posted April 3, 2012
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