From Publishers Weekly
A longtime liberal politician and the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, McGovern makes an impassioned plea for a cause he has worked on long and hard: ending world hunger. He believes this difficult goal is attainable by the year 2030. He traces the history of American involvement in fighting hunger both at home and abroad over the past several decades, not surprisingly nodding approval at programs that he himself backed during the Kennedy and Nixon administrations and criticizing the reduction in antihunger spending under Reagan and Clinton. The most provocative part of his generous manifesto is a five-point program to be spearheaded by the U.S. that includes free school lunches for children around the world; free food, nutrition counseling and health-care services to disadvantaged women and children; the establishment of international food reserves; aid to farmers in developing nations to improve their yields; and the genetic engineering of crops, calling these controversial foods "an indispensable instrument in the war against hunger." McGovern believes in the power of government to solve social ills, and politically conservative readers may find his faith misplaced. Moreover, his uncritical appraisal of the 1960s programs that failed to end poverty is irksome. Nevertheless, in an age marked by extensive cynicism toward government, McGovern not only offers optimism, he also outlines specific initiatives that government can undertake to wipe out world hunger now. (Jan.) Forecast: McGovern's liberal sentiments may not reflect the beliefs of the nation at large, but there is a solid core of dedicated liberal and progressive believers and activists who will welcome this plan by one of their enduring standard-bearers.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
It should come as no surprise that McGovern, a New Deal liberal who represented South Dakota in Washington for more than 20 years, has taken ownership of the issue of hunger. Those who remember him mainly for his unsuccessful 1972 presidential race may not recall that young Representative McGovern helped shepherd "Food for Peace" legislation through Congress in 1959 and then was named to head the program by John Kennedy. Today, he serves as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations' food programs in Rome. McGovern insists "Hunger is a political condition" that can be wiped out in the next 30 years. In the U.S., he calls for "a modest increase in the minimum wage and an equally modest enlargement of the food stamp program," together with surplus-purchase price supports for farmers. To fight world hunger, McGovern aims to "globalize" effective U.S. programs: universal school lunches, a WIC-type feeding program for poor pregnant and nursing mothers and preschool children, regional grain reserves, focused agricultural assistance to third-world countries, an international Farmers Corps (like the Peace Corps), and expansion of scientific agriculture, including genetic crop modification. That last point will be controversial (as will the author's kind words about Dwayne Andreas of Archer Daniels Midland). Still, McGovern knows his subject well and deserves credit for bringing this critical issue back into the national debate. Mary CarrollCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved