The Other America

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Simon and Schuster, Aug 1, 1997 - Political Science - 231 pages
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In the fifty years since it was published, The Other America has been established as a seminal work of sociology. This anniversary edition includes Michael Harrington’s essays on poverty in the 1970s and ’80s as well as a new introduction by Harrington’s biographer, Maurice Isserman. This illuminating, profoundly moving classic is still all too relevant for today’s America.

When Michael Harrington’s masterpiece, The Other America, was first published in 1962, it was hailed as an explosive work and became a galvanizing force for the war on poverty. Harrington shed light on the lives of the poor—from farm to city—and the social forces that relegated them to their difficult situations. He was determined to make poverty in the United States visible and his observations and analyses have had a profound effect on our country, radically changing how we view the poor and the policies we employ to help them.
 

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This book contributed to my career choice. Along with "Black Like Me" and "Autobiography of Malcom X", "Silent Spring" and "The American Way of Death", the assignment of this book in a 1967 high school class on ethics in American society opened my largely insulated, cloistered lily-white middle class New England small city world view into one not only ready to understand the complex problems of the global realpolitik advanced by the Kennedy-Johnson presidencies and the Cold War/Berlin/Cuba/VietNam, but the national realities of a two-track society of privileged and unprivileged with race-linked poverty lurking just behind the huge elm trees lining the clean-but spartan tenement housing neighborhoods of my Mass. home town. The idea that the law might influence policy and change the equation and opportunities for those who were growing up without the privileges and access to health care and recreation and advancement I--even as the son of a salesman and a secretary--enjoyed was NOT a primary motivator...but it was there as a notion. And it has colored the way I entered and conducted my legal career ever since. And the still-powerful reality Harrington effectively portrays, echoing the "See It Now" documentary TV of Murrow left a validating image on my mind that demanded a systemic response to remedy the unconscionability of the inequity of that poverty existing side-by-side with the enormous wealth of the owners and managers of the businesses in my and other communities....which I saw all the more starkly at my upper class prep school and Ivy League university. With school age poverty in urban communities returning to over-20% levels, it's time for an update of this volume, and to again make it required reading in high schools, colleges, church and synagogue adult education groups, city councils, state legislatures, and TEA PARTY FUND RAISERS. 

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - JBreedlove - LibraryThing

A look at the underside of the American dream. Read full review

Contents

The Invisible Land
1
Pastures of Plenty
39
If Youre Black Stay Back
61
Three Poverties
82
The Golden Years
101
The Twisted Spirit
121
Old Slums New Slums
139
Poverty in the Seventies
195
Poverty and the Eighties
215
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About the author (1997)

Born in Missouri in 1928, Michael Harrington was a writer, political activist, theorist, professor, commentator, and founding member of the Democratic Socialists of America. During his time as editor for New America, he wrote his seminal text The Other America: Poverty in the United States, a bestseller that has been credited for sparking the War on Poverty. A frequent writer, Harrington wrote fifteen books and has had articles publishes in journals such as The New Republic, The Nation, and many others. He married in 1963 and had two children. He died in 1989.