Power and Poverty: Maurice Isserman's Compelling Biography of Social Activist Michael Harrington
April 30, 2000
Michael Harrington (1928-1989) was best known as "The Man Who Discovered Poverty."... Harrington's "The Other America" (1962) confronted postwar Americans' complacent optimism about the inevitable spread of affluence by demonstrating that between a quarter and a third of the nation's population lived, largely invisibly, in poverty... Harrington's work struck a chord in official Washington and prompted, in significant measure, President Lyndon Johnson's decision in 1964 to declare a "'war on poverty.'" But as historian Maurice Isserman shows in his compelling new biography, Harrington's fame as a chronicler of poverty during the age of affluence was an almost accidental result of his long and sometimes frustrating crusade to continue the democratic socialist legacy of Eugene V. Debs and Norman Thomas in the second half of the 20th century.