THE GREAT SOCIETY READER: The Failure of American Liberation by Marvin E. & David Mermelstein- Eds. Gettleman

THE GREAT SOCIETY READER: The Failure of American Liberation

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The editors (an economist and an historian) avow their leftward bias and note that ""competitive readers and texts rarely even mention, let alone discuss at length, radical ideas."" What they see as the fool's gold of Great Society rhetoric and the false coin of the government's actual aims are weighed from all sides. Topics include: LBJ and...the macroeconomics and the foreign policy of... business and labor in... the black man under The Great Society. Documents and analyses are nicely put together, with long, solid introductions. Each section contains primary sources (speeches from Johnson, Ackley, Rostow et al.) with responses from left-wing scholars (e.g. Hayden, McDermott, Radosh), and contributions by ""moderates"" and decentralists from Schlesinger to Goodman. Two of the best essays deal with the poverty war and the new dollar diplomacy. Moynihan as well as McNamara, Rustin as well as Whitney Young, come under attack. The editors reject the view of American history as a progressive realization of liberals' efforts toward democracy and welfare--and they try to revise the liberal/conservative dichotomy itself. This is the sort of conventional wisdom more or less undone by a major anthology; the likelihood is great that its strenuous scholarship and fundamental critiques will outlast the Johnsonian cry for unity.

Pub Date: Nov. 24th, 1967
Publisher: Random House