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Protecting Soldiers and Mothers: The Political Origins of Social Policy in United States Paperback – April 14, 1995

1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0674717664 ISBN-10: 067471766X Edition: Reprint

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Despite having instituted one of the world's earliest broad-based social welfare programs (Civil War pensions for veterans and their families), the United States did not develop into a full welfare state like other Western democracies. In a detailed historical case study of social policy from the 1880s to the 1920s, Skocpol (sociology, Harvard) examines how government, political parties, cultural values, unions, women's organizations, and other groups all played a part in this process. Of particular interest is the role of mass organizations for women, which won "maternalist" welfare policies for women and children in the years before women's suffrage. Skocpol's analysis, which includes frequent comparisons with European countries, is replete with well-documented primary source material. Although academic language and style may make this daunting reading, scholars and students of social history will find it fascinating background for current debates on U.S. social policies. An important acquisition for all academic libraries.
- Mary Jane Brustman, SUNY at Albany Libs.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


A monumental study that will likely become a classic in the history of the modern welfare state. (Rosalind Rosenberg New York Times Book Review)

Complex, richly detailed...and grounded in extensive archival research...[Skocpol] has demonstrated that the polity and political institutions do matter...[A] powerful book that will surely generate a great deal of new research and writing about the history of social provision in the United States. (Alex Keyssar Nation)

Invites readers to remember a halcyon period in women's politics when--both in spite and because of women's formal political exclusion--extensively organized, politically active women united around motherhood and claimed a place for women in social policy. (Gwendolyn Mink Women's Review of Books)

Recognition that a kind of welfare state emerged even in America has hardly stilled the need to ask, once again, why the American variant came out so differently from those in western Europe. Skocpol's newest book... brings to these issues as powerful and iconoclastic an intellect as the historical sciences possess. Protecting Soldiers and Mothers belongs on a shelf of social policy history classics. (Daniel T. Rodgers Journal of Economic History)

Protecting Soldiers and Mothers is doubly important because it gives us new facts to think about and new perspectives within which to think about them…Skocpol's research is so original and thorough and her critical intelligence is so strong...that her book will become the necessary starting point for all who study the evolution of social welfare policies in the United States. (Aaron Wildavsky Journal of Policy History)

By demonstrating the pivotal role of women's voluntary organizations as well as individual women leaders in constructing early twentieth century social welfare policy, Skocpol not only rewrites the history of social welfare but gender history as well. (Viviana Zelizer, Princeton University)

Protecting Soldiers and Mothers is a landmark book. Its unified argument and wealth of detail will be of compelling interest for political scientists and historians, theorists of the welfare state, social policy-makers, and feminists...By means of searching, consistent, grounded investigation of the ways that policies are made (or are not made) in the United States--along with lively, well-informed use of comparative national data--the book ruptures the 'inevitability' model of welfare state development and opens the door to new and different policy making in America's future. (Nancy Cott, Yale University)

Theda Skocpol's Protecting Soldiers and Mothers will be regarded as one of the most significant books-perhaps the single most significant book-on the development of the American welfare state. (Martin Shefter, Cornell University)

Skocpol's book is a landmark contribution to the history and politics of American social policy. She has reclaimed a major and forgotten period that does much to explain why the American welfare state took the shape it did. (Hugh Heclo, George Mason University)

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 736 pages
  • Publisher: Belknap Press; Reprint edition (March 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067471766X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674717664
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.5 x 1.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #933,073 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Theda Skocpol is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Government and Sociology at Harvard University, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, and past president of the American Political Science Association.

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on January 4, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a praise-worthy and insightful examination of the transformation of social welfare for Civil War Veterans into a uniquely materialistic legislation that benefited women and children. Furthermore, Skocpol explores American resistance to other forms of social welfare, such as those contemporaneously popular in Europe, that benefited disabled workers and the elderly.
At times this book can make for dull reading, and it is perhaps also longer than necessary. However, it remains an important work of social history.
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