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Freedom Is Not Enough: The Moynihan Report and America's Struggle over Black Family Life--from LBJ to Obama Hardcover – Bargain Price, May 4, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Hardcover, Bargain Price, May 4, 2010
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Despite the author's caveat, this is not a biography, it is the life story (and afterlife story) of a document commonly named The Moynihan Report—its conception as a memo, its delivery in 1965 as a report entitled The Negro Family: The Case for National Action by Assistant Secretary of Labor Daniel Moynihan, and its independent, later development. Bancroft Prize-winning historian Patterson (Grand Expectations) reviews the report's perspectives on the woes of lower-class, inner-city black families—at the center of which are nonmarital births—rooted variously in the historic past (slavery, migration to urban centers), contemporaneous economic forces (joblessness), or black culture. Patterson's wide scouring through the scholarly literature and the popular media, from the mid-1960s to the Obama era, results in a generous survey of the sociological and historical treatment of lower-class black family life and a reappraisal of whether the report scuttled LBJ's civil rights agenda. Alas, Patterson's thorough account is dulled by a plethora of repetitive statistics concerning out-of-wedlock births and a surfeit of reports concerning media handling; while it remains useful documentation, it is a tiresome read. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In 1965, having just passed major civil-rights laws, President Johnson spoke at Howard University asserting that those laws were not enough to guarantee equality. Johnson's war on poverty lost out to the real war in Vietnam even as domestic unrest grew into riots and white conservatives resisted any efforts to further address issues of racial inequality. Against that backdrop Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then an assistant secretary of labor, issued a report that would famously come to bear his name and would be vilified for its suggestion that the government adopt a policy of “benign neglect” toward the problems of black families. Moynihan feared that the rise of out-of-wedlock births among black Americans was an indicator of the deterioration of urban black family life. Black-power advocates attacked Moynihan and his report for its perceived focus on black pathologies. But historian Patterson offers a careful analysis of the report, highlighting Moynihan's emphasis on the need for economic development in black communities with particular focus on black men and arguing for welfare assistance that did not disrupt family structures. --Vernon Ford
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books (May 4, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0465013570
  • ASIN: B004NSVGE4
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,953,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love Patterson's writing. This is the fourth book of his that I've read in the past few months. Here, he focuses on the Moynihan report and America's struggle with black family life. As usual, Patterson does an excellent job researching divergent opinions and presents them to the reader honesty and written clearly.,It tackles controversial issues such as the matriarchal society of many urban black societies and the lack of positive male role models. Maybe, on the 50 th anniversary of he Moynihan Report, we should see if he was correct.: did the pathology get worse?
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thoughtful analysis of the report and a good starting point for further research. There is no claim that the book answers any questions, whether it be the Report, the problem or the solution to the problem although I concluded that a dysfunctional family is a difficult obstacle to overcome.

Sam Bertolet
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The famous report by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an Assistant Secretary of Labor, published in 1965, put forward the statistical observation that problems in Black families was not due to the lack of opportunity, but to the weak family structure, where there was a very large number of single parent, especially mothers only, families among blacks. This produced a backlash, especially in a 1969 book, "Blaming the Victim". It charged that Moynihan is accusing the victims to be responsible for their own suffering.

This book shows that is fundamentally mistaken, because Moynihan's cause is, in turn, caused by conditions in society and in historical situations affecting black families, things which are beyond their control. Patterson is a scholar who has no stake in the game, and relies on new demographic information to show the Moynihan scenario has not disappeared. Black families still frequently have the cards stacked against them by societal conditions.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book won a major prize, but I don't see why. It is a valentine that tells a lot of valuable information but wrapped in undeserved praise. Moynihan was neither original or insightful. He kicked up a predictable storm with his 1965 report, altered the course of the war on poverty in a bad way, and rode the contorversy to a long career. Patterson couldmhave been more critical and still liked him.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Excellent. A great insight into the evolution of the culture of the US. However for someone who came to North America I the sixties I am disappointed that there is so much racism in the US.
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