The New York Times bestselling author of The Forgotten Man and Coolidge offer a stunning revision of our last great period of idealism, the 1960s, with burning relevance of our contemporary challenges.
“Great Society-A New History is accurate history that reads like a novel, covering the high hopes and catastrophic missteps of our well-meaning leaders.”-Alan Greenspan.
The 1960s And Today, Does Society Have The Same Goals?
Today, a battle rages in our country. Many Americans are attracted to socialism and economic redistribution while opponents of those ideas argue for purer capitalism. In the 1960s Americans sought the same goals many seek now: an end to poverty, higher standards of living for the middle class, a better environment and more access to health care and education. Then, too, we debated socialism and capitalism, public sector reform versus private sector advancement. Time and again whether under John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, or Richard Nixon, the country chose the public sector. Yet the targets of our idealism proved elusive. What’s more, Johnson’s and Nixon’s programs shackled millions of families in permanent government dependency. Ironically, Shlaes argues, the costs of entitlement commitments made a half century ago precluded the very American will need in coming decades.
“The New Deal created a forgotten man,” writes the author, chair of the board of the Calvin Coolidge Foundation. “The Great Society created more.: In follow-up to her The Forgotten Man: A New History Of The Great Depression (2007), Shlaes writes that Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society reforms “seemed designed to finish the job” of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal government expansion and had similarly disastrous results. The 1960s reforms-community action, housing, and other programs-came close enough to socialism to cause economic tragedy.” While action in the public sector spurred advances in civil rights and healthcare, Great Society economic programs, including the “lost” War On Poverty, encouraged “a new sense of hopelessness” in welfare recipients, stifled private sector innovation, and led to inflation and unemployment in the 1970s. Moreover, argues the author, “Great Society collectivism resulted in enormous entitlement costs that make it difficult to address today’s pressing problems. She cautions against the present flirting with “broad, vague, and romantic socialism” and champions free-market capitalism and an end to federal intrusions in local government. Her vividly detailed narrative brings to life the social, political, and economic issues of the period. Shlaes emphasizes the little-recognized, outsize role-played in public policy making by socialist labor leader Walter Reuther, a supporter of the radical group that spawned students for a Democratic Society, led by “professional protester” Tom Hayden, whose 1962 Port Huron Statement helped inspire Johnson’s Great Society. Together with democratic socialist Michael Harrington, Reuther hoped Johnson would “complete Roosevelt’s revolution. The author chronicles at length federal “arrogance” in dealing with mayors to implement community efforts. Her disdain for liberal reformers and intellectuals will trouble some readers as will her insistence that private enterprise, with its efficiency and measures-of-success approached, would have succeeded where public action failed in the face of social and political chaos. A provocative, well-argued take on a turbulent era.
In Great Society, Shlaes Offers:
Shlaes offers a powerful companion to her legendary history of the 1930s, The Forgotten Man, and shows that in fact there was scant difference between two presidents we consider opposite: Johnson and Nixon. Just as technocratic military planning by the “best and the brightest” made failure in Vietnam inevitable, so planning by a team of the domestic best and brightest guaranteed fiasco at home. At once history and biography. Great Society sketches moving portraits of the characters in this trans formative period, from U.S. Presidents to the visionary UAW leader Walter Reuther, the founders of in tel, and Federal Reserve chairmen William McChesney Martin and Arthur Burns. Great Society casts new light on other figures too, from Ronald Reagan then, governor of California, to the socialist Michael Harrington and the protest movement leader Tom Hayden. Drawing on her classic economic expertise and deeper historical knowledge. Shlaes upends the traditional narrative of the era, providing a damning indictment of the consequences of the thoughtless idealism with striking relevance for today. Great Society captures a dramatic contest with lessons both dark and bright for our time.
About The Author Amity Shlaes
Author Amity Ruth Shlaes was born in 1960, she is a conservative American author and newspaper and magazine columnist. Shlaes writes about politics and economics from a classical liberal perceptive, Shlaes has authored five books, including three New York Times Bestsellers. She currently chairs the board of trustees of the Calvin Coolidge Presidential Foundation and serves as a Presidential Scholar at The King’s College in New York City. She is a recipient of the Bastial Prize.
Shlaes is a current events’ columnist for Forbes at the front of the magazine. Until 2013, she wrote syndicated column for Bloomberg News. She also writes a print column for Forbes magazine, also a regular contributor to Marketplace, the public radio show. She has appeared on numerous other radio and television shows over the course of her career.
Before writing her column for Bloomberg, Shlaes was a columnist for the Financial Times for five years, until September 2005. Before that she was a member of the editorial board of The Wall Street Journal, specializing in economics. She followed the collapse of communism for the Wall Street Journal Europe and in the early 1990s she served as the Journal’s op:ed editor.
For two years (2012 and 2013) Shlaes worked at the George W. Bush, Presidential Center, leading the economic growth project. In 2011, she was named director of the 4% Growth Project at the George W. Bush Institute. Over the years, she has written for the New Yorker, The American Spectator, Commentary, The Spectator (UK) Foreign Affairs, Forbes, National Review, The New Republic, the Suddeutsche Zeitung and Die Zeit, among others.
Shlaes, the revisionist conservative historian, seeks to demonstrate that the efforts of the 1960s to make American Society over, whether by thinking or rebuilding, in the name of improving life for all, “were misguided from the start,” The uniformly failed results of such reformist, in her view, stemmed from the doomed desire to rely on the public rather than the private sector to solve the country’s problems-an essentially socialist impulse. Americans risk repeating those errors through contemporary efforts to increase prosperity, shrink inequality, improve the environment, and secure greater access to healthcare and education.
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All The Best.