Cover: Miles to Go in PAPERBACK

Miles to Go

A Personal History of Social Policy

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Product Details


$33.00 • £26.95 • €29.50

ISBN 9780674574410

Publication Date: 10/01/1997

Academic Trade

288 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

7 line drawings


Moynihan meditates here on his 30 years in public life and the challenges ahead. This is not an easy freeway ride toward a certain conclusion but a lurching taxi race through the traffic and potholes of contemporary culture, politics, history and social science. The New York Democratic senator’s observations are acute and unencumbered by a desire to please or the need to adhere to convention. Which may explain why he remains uncommonly respected and his thoughts welcome.—John Balzar, The Los Angeles Times

Miles to Go is a chilling story, superbly documented, passionately argued, morally compelling. It is a chronicle of intellectual laziness, political cowardice, the inadequacy of social research methods and devices, the fallibility or even ridiculousness of much of the social scientific approach to real-life problems and the fatuousness of trying to produce national policies that comprehensively deal with individual problems.—Michael Pakenham, The Baltimore Sun

Traditional conservatives and liberals should read this book, as required scolding. Those of us who consider ourselves welfare state conservatives should read it to remind ourselves of the old wisdom, and to regain strength for the work still to be done.—Steven M. Teles, Boston Book Review

Moynihan gives us a perceptive and observant analysis of liberal social policy—past, present, and future.—Louis B. Cei, The Richmond Times-Dispatch

[Moynihan] is a shrewd and combative public intellectual, an academic in the best sense, who has thought hard and written cogently about the greatest issues of his time—welfare, street crime, the erosion of the family, education, drugs, Soviet communism, the out-of-control federal budget… In his short memoir, ‘Miles to Go,’ this remarkable man looks back, not without a certain charming immodesty, at some of the turbulent policy battles of the last three decades and at his own role as observer and legislator in their outcome.—Peter A. Jay, The Washington Times

There is a wisdom about this book that goes beyond the specific subjects of social policy with which it deals. That is why it has much to say for the general reader, even for those of us quite removed from the American environment.—Allan E. Shapiro, The Jerusalem Post

[Moynihan] writes clearly from his own wide experience about the possibilities of social policy based on evidence and research. Some of his examples concern times those in power were told but did not want to listen or believe: as with the 1980s’ evidence that growing urban poverty was not [to] be cured spontaneously by upswings in the trade cycle… He is bold and powerful in suggesting that, since the escalation of crime is mainly drugs-related, decriminalisation is a serious option. Moynihan is also bold in not flinching at the social consequences of ‘the near collapse of family structures in the inner cities’.—Bernard Crick, New Statesman

[A] provocative book… Given his track record in predicting entropy in America’s most important institutions and government programs, the warnings Moynihan provides are sufficient to make the book an important one.—Paul Magnusson, Businessweek

The several essays in this volume are vintage Moynihan, ranging widely over some of the most important questions of contemporary public policy in both the US and the UK—health care, social welfare, crime, drugs, social security, international trade, race, ethnicity, the effects of globalization on national economies and, not least, the constant, nagging question of where the money to feed public programmes is to be found… The essays are admirably interdisciplinary, free of jargon and lucidly written. Their central theme is the necessary, but much less than splendid relationship between social science knowledge and policy-making… These essays should be read by all students of American public policy. Moynihan writes eloquently and cogently about the most serious problems of our time.—W. Wayne Shannon, Borderlines [UK]

The subtitle is accurate: this is easily the most personal (as well as the most passionate) of Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s books, and it is written very much in the author’s characteristic style: learned, witty, combative… My own differences with it notwithstanding, I found Miles to Go challenging and often irresistible.—John J. DiIulio, Jr., Commentary

This is one of the most insightful accounts of contemporary politics available, stuffed with Moynihan’s wit, passion, and prophecy.—Alan Wolfe, Commonweal

Anyone interested in comprehending the current debate in America is advised to read this book.Contemporary Review [UK]

This collection of essays does include ‘Defining Deviancy Down,’ which is worth a trip to the library, if not the price of a book by one of our more thoughtful politicians looking back.First Things

[B]ecause Moynihan has been at the center of many controversies over the past 30 years, the book indeed provides a fascinating personal history of social policy. The fact that Moynihan’s writing is always vivid, and often quite funny, also makes the book a success… Moynihan provides intelligent and insightful commentary on our major social issues.—Richard D. Kahlenberg, Legal Times

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the nation’s best thinker among politicians since Lincoln and its best politician among thinkers since Jefferson, stands at the summit of a long career in public life.—Michael Barone and Grant Ujifusa, The Almanac of American Politics, 1994

[This book contains] what perhaps only Moynihan can provide: the leading politician’s inside view and intimate knowledge of the legislative history of American social programs, combined with sufficient familiarity with the social sciences and writing skill to make expert government studies accessible to the general reader.—David C. Mauk, American Studies in Scandinavia

No national legislator has been more involved in social policy than New York’s senior senator, so when he stitches together a clutch of speeches and calls them a personal history of social policy, he is not being self-important… He is also immensely cogent… Moynihan presents his analyses of such matters as balancing the federal budget, tolerating antisocial behavior (in the much discussed, seminal essay ‘Defining Deviancy Down’), controlling illicit drugs, and reforming welfare… Moynihan offers such illuminating concepts…and clarifies so many daunting issues…that it is impossible not to become a better citizen from [the] reading [of this book].—Ray Olson, Booklist

The book’s subtitle accurately suggests that readers will be given Moynihan’s informed and sophisticated insider view of the success or failure of recent attempts at social policy on issues ranging from drugs, crime, and health care to budgets, welfare, and race… For Moynihan’s well-expressed, stimulating thought, and for other equally challenging discussions, especially his essay, ‘Defining Deviancy Down,’ readers will find Miles to Go rewarding.Choice

Sobering reflections…on the cost of precipitous action taken without the benefit of social science research or humane reflection.Kirkus Reviews

In tracing America’s social policy since the 1960s, Moynihan is well versed in the subject, having served in the Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon administrations and having authored many of the policies on civil rights, drugs, and welfare… His thought-provoking book is strongly recommended.Library Journal

If you look back over a period of thirty years or thirty-five years, Daniel Patrick Moynihan has been right again and again and again and again about the problems in this society.—Morton Kondracke

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