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Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society (American Ways Series) Paperback – February 9, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-1566631853 ISBN-10: 1566631858

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Product Details

  • Series: American Ways Series
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Ivan R. Dee (February 9, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566631858
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566631853
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #833,997 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers 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.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Andrew displays a remarkable evenhandedness in this essay on the still-controversial Great Society. Rather than ruminate on whether Johnson's expensive dreams were successes or failures--opinions about which still animate contemporary politics--Andrew concentrates on what the main programs of the Great Society were, how they emerged from Congress, and how political support for them evaporated as they were implemented. Andrew illustrates the collapse of consensus by 1968 in his discussion of the 1964 Civil Rights Act; opposition to the Great Society mounted as, it seemed to opponents, the principle of equality of opportunity gave way to equality of results. Andrew then takes up the War on Poverty, the establishment of Medicare and Medicaid, "model cities" programs, environmental protection, and cultural funding. Delivering an overview of the events, such as riots and "black power" militancy, that either alienated crucial white, middle-class support for LBJ's vision or cemented it, as with guaranteed old-age medical care, Andrew renders a balanced introduction to the mixed bag that was the Great Society. Gilbert Taylor --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Alexander Tsesis on December 7, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Andrew has written an interesting and informative book about some of the programs that created vital opportunities for indigent people to escape poverty. Andrew discusses the key laws Johnson passed to improve the lives of Americans, including Civil Rights Act of 1964, Medicaid, Medicare, Head Start and many others. As a historical account of legislative acts it is excellent, and on that point it deserves five stars. However, when Andrew discusses how the Great Society affect later laws, the book becomes quite week. In fact it seems like Andrew wrote the bulk of the work in the eighties and only later interspersed a few sentences about the nineties. The index is also a bit sparse and could have been more detailed. This book is, nevertheless, a good read and deserves the attention of persons interested in the Johnson administration.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Todd Carlsen on March 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book looks at the government policy view of Great Society programs. It is flawed in that it detaches the Great Society legislation from LBJ's political skills, the nation at the time, and the political environment at the time.
Many Great Society programs have provided a hand-up to success, better medical care, less polution, and much more. I would rank college funding very high, along with health care for the elderly.
However, the book details that Great Society was also misguided in some ways. The urban renewal programs were flops. CAP and Model Cities come to mind as being especially inept. It was these Great Society programs that Reagan railed against as "big government, and correctly so.
Hoever, much of the Great Society was a great success. High school graduation rates doubled, and college graduations tripled. Poverty was almost cut in half, even if the underlying caused sometimes remained (Johnson failed in his proposal to reform welfare). Head Start has helped tens of millions of children prepare for school. Pollution of the air, soil, and water was greatly reduced. Mass transit we take for granted in many cities was built.
Medicare has served a couple hundred million people, when before few elderly people had health care of any kind. The number of doctors graduating doubled. Good medical centers became far more widespread, and medical excellence in our society reached new heights through research and funding. Life expectancy has jumped substantially. We owe our advances in medicine in large part to the programs of the Great Society.
The National Endowment for the Arts has greatly expanded the arts in the nation. And how about public TV?
So there were successes, and there were failures.
Read more ›
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Greg Camp on July 23, 2013
Format: Paperback
In this book, Andrew gives a detailed analysis of the Great Society of Lyndon Johnson, looking at the legislative battles to pass the bills and the attempts at implementing the programs. It's written from the perspective of a believer in big government, but all the way through is a tacit recognition of the overreach and ultimate failure that was the Great Society. This is a book that all who hope to bring change to America need to read as a cautionary lesson in the limits of what government can do.

Review by the author of A Draft of Moonlight
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By anngillian on December 13, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book blew my mind. I had to read it for my social policy class and it depressed me. The politics of the time, lack of support and mismanagement of funds and of course the civil rights movements, black rights and the continuance of the welfare state and its new face. madness.
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