This new edition of Patterson's widely used book carries the story of battles over poverty and social welfare through what the author calls the "amazing 1990s," those years of extraordinary performance of the economy. He explores a range of issues arising from the economic phenomenon--increasing inequality and demands for use of an improved poverty definition. He focuses the story on the impact of the highly controversial welfare reform of 1996, passed by a Republican Congress and signed by a Democratic President Clinton, despite the laments of anguished liberals.
[Patterson's] perspective on poverty continues to be an influential one in the debate about which policies help and which hurt the poor ... Readers will be reminded of many things they had forgotten, will learn some things they never knew, and will be provoked to new questions.
A splendid introduction to and review of the attitudes in the United States toward the poor and of efforts to ameliorate their condition...Patterson treats his subject with verve, energy, and considerable style...No one with any interest in the subject can afford to ignore it.
James T. Patterson is Professor of History, Emeritus, at Brown University.