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The Other AmericaIn 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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  • Paperback
  • 252 pages
  • The Other America
  • Michael Harrington
  • English
  • 07 April 2018
  • 9780684826783

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About the Author: Michael Harrington

Edward Michael Harrington was an American democratic socialist, writer, political activist, professor of political science, and radio commentator.Early lifeHarrington was born in St Louis, Missouri He attended St Louis University High School, College of the Holy Cross, University of Chicago MA in English Literature , and Yale Law School As a young man, he was interested in both leftwing polit

10 thoughts on “The Other America

  1. says:

    In 1962, a small book was published to some acclaim by a political scientist named Michael Harrington The book, entitled The Other America Poverty in the United States , shocked the rather small audience that actually read the book with the premise that nearly one fourth of the United States population was living at or below the poverty line.It was shocking to the reading audience of the time because a national dialogue about poverty did not even exist, outside academic circles of political scientists and social scientists who actually studied poverty issues Most, if not all, Americans believed that the U.S was swimming in wealth and that Americans were not lacking in luxury and leisure For roughly 75% of the population, that was true.Harrington s book shocked the nation and quickly became a bestseller, especially after President John F Kennedy, after reading the book, initiated a study on poverty to see if Harrington s book had any validity It did.The fact that the book is still being published and read today is extremely telling The fact that very few of the problems talked about in the book have been rectified today, than fifty years later, is very sad It is, however, probably not all that surprising Harrington had the hope that the people knew about the problem, the greater the chance that things would be done to eradicate poverty He honestly believed that true poverty would be reduced drastically by the 1990s and a thing of the past by the turn of the 21st century.Silly man.If anything, poverty has become a worse problem today than it ever was Most Americans, sadly, accept it as one of those unsolvable problems, like pollution or drug abuse or terrorism Many Americans, especially those on the political Right, if they think about it at all, view poverty as an annoyance those living in poverty are nothing than a drain on the system They are nothing than welfare queens, bums, and human blight on our city streets.While dated, with statistics that seem, even at the time it was published, conservative at best, The Other America is still an important book.Behind the numbers and studies cited, Harrington reveals a strong compassion for the poor, most of whom who have arrived in poverty through no fault of their own Many of the impoverished are children.Harrington makes the case that there are different groups of the poor, hidden from view of the affluent segment of American population because they have been purposely and systematically segregated from the middle to upper classes, for various reasons, and through various means.These groups are, according to Harrington the rural poor, urban blacks, the mentally ill, senior citizens, and the self imposed poor alcoholics and drug abusers While some of the demographics have changed in fifty years, the basic make up of these groups haven t changed that much.It is probably unfair to say that no progress has been made on the issue of poverty Some progress has been made, thankfully, but we still have a long way to go For a country with so much wealth, it is unbelievable and, frankly, unconscionable that there are millions in this country that go without basic needs of food, shelter, and proper health care.Harrington s book may be old but it is still apropos, powerfully felt, and worth reading.

  2. says:

    Entering Grinnell College with a year s credit already accumulated in high school, I enrolled in courses that were actually interesting, figuring requirements were secondary A whole host of such classes were offered under the rubric of Social Science as special topics The first I took was one on the welfare system of the U.S.A taught by a former social worker who had just come to our school.If the Welfare class had a central text, it was Harrington s The Other America But perhaps it was because I knew of Harrington from the Socialist Party that the book seemed so central In any case, it was an eye opener I knew things were bad, I d been through Benton Harbor, Michigan and Gary, Indiana countless times, but I didn t know they were that bad nor did I know that there were far poor white people than black people nor did I know that there had been so much good intention behind Lyndon Johnson s Great Society programs which had been dissolved by the nationally and economically corrosive factor of the American invasions of Southeast Asia.

  3. says:

    One quote pretty much sums up the theme of this book America has the best dressed poverty in the World Americans often don t think about poverty They see the occasional bum on a street corner and assume that he must be a drunk or otherwise irresponsible They never bother to think about the systematic nature of poverty and the causes of it Nor do they think about the fact that the gap between the rich and poor is growing and Americans are going into poverty than coming out.Harrington dispells many of these American povery myths with clear research, personal stories and eloquent prose.

  4. says:

    This book was truly eye opening to the poverty related problems present in our society Although this book was written in 1962, it is astonishing how little has changed since then in regards to the improvement of the other society in America This book provided powerful insight in the present problems, their cause, and how they can be fixed, which highlighted how simple a plan can seem on paper, yet implementing that plan into society requires a concern for the culture in the impoverished area The reason this book only receives four stars is because they sometimes left problems open ended without providing an adequate solution or dismissing issues with an over simplified response Overall, I highly recommend this book to whoever is interested in learning about one of the most ignored societies today.

  5. says:

    Michael Harrington s magnum opus on poverty in the United States says right on the cover that it is the book that sparked the War on Poverty And it did Kennedy gave this book to his advisors and green lighted a plan to eradicate poverty in America three days before he was killed Lyndon Johnson referenced this book when he made the War of Poverty a reality Clocking in at only 170 pages, this relatively short book delivered a powerful message for the poor The closing lines of the book sum it up well The means are at hand to fulfill the age old dream poverty can now be abolished How long shall we ignore this underdeveloped nation in our midst How long shall we look the other way while our fellow human beings suffer How long How long, indeed.

  6. says:

    As many others have pointed out, the most depressing aspect of this book is that so little has changed since it s publication in 1962 Despite the dozens of underfunded social programs, despite growing public consciousness of poverty, despite the good and bad times that have come and gone, the underclass of desperately poor individuals and families remains with us as much now as ever The Other America is the book that inspired the War on Poverty and launched a thousand discussions in sociology classes about the cause and nature of poverty, and it is certainly a compelling read Harrington, the great American socialist, painstakingly lays out the endemic poverty that secretly surrounds us, be it on the farm, in the city, with the young or the old The book is full of figures, though they are mostly meaningless to modern readers, since nothing is adjusted for inflation But the thing that seems most relevant is that Harrington reminds us that we are choosing not to see poverty While many of us enjoy the most affluent standard of living in the world, here within our borders in fact, within a few miles of wherever you happen to be sitting at the moment there exists a world of crushing poverty The Other America is defined by hopeless and pessismism, and by not seeing it, we ensure that the cycle of poverty will be repeated in a new generation Harrington is hopeful in his book that when Americans become aware of poverty, they will be full of moral outrage and work to eradicate it Well, that was 1962, and I don t know how long we have to wait to judge that that theory has been tested and shown to be deficient No doubt this book is a call to conscience, but one that is not new How long will the poor have to wait for their suffering to be recognized, Harrington asks at the end of the book Maybe someday we will know that answer.

  7. says:

    I read this book in college than 40 years ago Harrington s exposure of poverty in Appalachia and other parts of the U.S was a stark revelation in the early 1960 s This book significantly influenced the anti poverty programs later in the decade Ironically, Harrington at the time was the head of the United States Socialist Party.Thinking about the Other America inspired me many times during a 37 year career with the U.S Department of Labor I plan to include this book and its influence on my career during an upcoming retirement luncheon.A good portion of this book is available at

  8. says:

    One would think that this book is would be outdated but its not Even though it first published in 1968 it is very relevant to the present.

  9. says:

    Michael Harrington 1928 1989 is best known for this book, published in 1962 He was an American democratic socialist, writer, political activist, professor of political science, radio commentator and founder of the Democratic Socialists of America The Other America has become a classic in the social change world, that attention be directed at the poor in the U.S at a time when affluence was the byword and the poor were marginalized It was cutting edge for its time.Although Harrington uses some statistics in the book, the vast majority is narrative and analysis His notable beliefs about statistics are included in the Appendix, the final section of the book This is interesting to read even taken away from the balance of the book Combining the numbers with the words, Harrington paints a dismal view of poverty and the poor There are lengthy discussions of the twisted spirit within the culture of poverty Since the book is nearly 50 years old, the statistics are dated In fact the federal government didn t start keeping statistics on poverty until 1959 But the words are just as apt as they were when the book was published.He was a supporter of universal health care saying, A comprehensive medical program, guaranteeing decent care to every American, would actually reduce the cost of caring for the aged He believed that if people had good health care in their early decades, they would have fewer problems as they aged It took a few decades to get this one.Read the last 33 pages of the book if you ever have the chance This is the summary chapter, The Two Nations, and the Appendix Definitions It can be found in Google books, by Googling the two nations michael harrington The book was reissued by Touchstone in 1997 In short, being poor is not one aspect of a person s life in this country it is his life Taken as a whole, poverty is a culture Taken on the family level, it has the same quality These are people who lack education and skill, who have bad health, poor housing, low levels of aspiration and high levels of mental distress They are, in the language of sociology, multi problem families Each disability is intense because it exists within a web of disabilities And if one problem is solved, and the others are left constant, there is little gain.One might translate these facts into the moralistic language so dear to those who would condemn the poor for their faults The other Americans are those who live at a level of life below moral choice, who are so submerged in their poverty that one cannot begin to talk about free choice The point is not to make them wards of the state Rather, society must help them before they can help themselves Can you hear the mumbles, no, the shouts of Bleeding heart liberal This is meant to be a pejorative in most cases Harrington almost wears the label as a badge of honor, proof of his humanity and his awareness and sensitivity to the desolation of the problem of poverty and the lives of the poor He did see the poor as victims.He cries out, In a nation with a technology that could provide every citizen with a decent life, it is an outrage and a scandal that there should be such social misery He said this 50 years ago And he kept saying it until his death in 1989 from cancer at the young age of 61.Michael Harrington wants to tell us, The poor are not like everyone else They are a different kind of people They think and feel differently they look upon a different America than the middle class looks upon They are the main victims of this society s tension and conflict Reading this book you might think he invented President Lyndon Johnson s War on Poverty Begun officially in 1964, the War on Poverty was an ambitious governmental effort to address the problem of persistent poverty in the United States Over the next decade, the federal government in conjunction with state and local governments, nonprofit organizations, and grassroots groups created a new institutional base for antipoverty and civil rights action and, in the process, highlighted growing racial and ideological tensions in American politics and society Marked by moments of controversy and consensus, the War on Poverty defined a new era for American liberalism and added new layers to the American welfare state Legislatively, the first two years were the most active Between President Lyndon Johnson s State of the Union address in 1964 and the liberal setbacks suffered in the congressional elections of 1966, the Johnson administration pushed through an unprecedented amount of antipoverty legislation The Economic Opportunity Act 1964 provided the basis for the Office of Economic Opportunity OEO , the Job Corps, Volunteers in Service to America VISTA , Upward Bound, Head Start, Legal Services, the Neighborhood Youth Corps, the Community Action Program CAP , the college Work Study program, Neighborhood Development Centers, small business loan programs, rural programs, migrant worker programs, remedial education projects, local health care centers, and others The antipoverty effort, however, did not stop there It encompassed a range of Great Society legislation far broader than the Economic Opportunity Act alone Other important measures with antipoverty functions included an 11 billion tax cut Revenue Act of 1964 , the Civil Rights Act 1964 , the Food Stamp Act 1964 , the Elementary and Secondary Education Act 1965 , the Higher Education Act 1965 , the Social Security amendments creating Medicare Medicaid 1965 , the creation of the Department of Housing and Urban Development 1965 , the Voting Rights Act 1965 , the Model Cities Act 1966 , the Fair Housing Act 1968 , several job training programs, and various Urban Renewal related projects Source you imagine that many things being accomplished by our U.S Congress in 2011 Nixon followed Johnson into the White House and kept most of these programs running.I am looking forward to reading The Other American The Untold Life of Michael Harrington and hopefully getting an idea about his views during the Great Society and War on Poverty era.

  10. says:

    This obviously was not the lightest or easiest read, but I am glad I read it It s easy to look at the publication date and dismiss THE OTHER AMERICA as outdated, but a closer look reveals just how applicable it is to new millennium problems It is true, the lowest paying, least stable jobs in America have changed Garment and consumer product factories discovered they could move overseas and produce the same stuff with even lower wages and less pleasant conditions This job sector in America has become retail and food services jobs The workers remain just as desperate The section on rural poverty may surprise many modern readers, who assume industrialization of the agriculture industry is a new thing In this book we read of small farmers whose livelihoods are crushed in the wake of huge operators with factory like farms Modern foodies who idealize the mom and pop era of farming may be surprised to learn that Mom and Pop were struggling mightily, with many falling into uninhabitable poverty and being forced into city tenements.

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