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Harrington Revealed With Unsparing Fairness

Buffalo News Book Review

Posted April 30, 2000
Tags Hamilton In the News
In the 1950s, a decade before he would provide hope to American socialists and intellectual firepower to White House initiatives, Michael Harrington was part of the Catholic worker movement in New York City... ...He was, before his death, America's most famous socialist, whatever that's worth. But in the end, religion and politics weren't the most important reasons Michael Harrington's name lives on. As detailed in exhaustive precision in Maurice Isserman's biography, it was the part Harrington played in shaping America's relationship with its poor that stands as his testament... In 1980, Harrington organized a conference in Washington, D.C. of Europe's socialist heads of state, including German's Willy Brandt, Norway's Olaf Palme, and Joop Den Uyl, prime minister of the Netherlands. It was resolutely ignored by the political establishment--only Congressman Ron Dellums of Oakland appeared to offer remarks--and the news media. "It seems unlikely, however," Isserman writes, "that even lavish media coverage, or the attendance of the entire Democratic congressional delegation, would have lent the affair any more fascination or lasting significance with the American public."

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