The Patriot, The Other American, The Life Of Michael Harrington, By Maurice Isserman
The Los Angeles Times
July 2, 2000
Was there any chance at all that Johnson's War on Poverty might have succeeded? It has become a mark of sophistication to say that poverty is not really subject to government manipulation, and that utopian aspirations to abolish it pose greater dangers to mankind than poverty itself. That was not Harrington's position. His particular school of American socialism was fond of looking back at the New Deal of the 1930s, which in selected portions of American life did succeed in abolishing the worst sorts of poverty, or nearly so--among old people, for example, by means of Social Security. And Harrington looked in Western European directions... Maurice Isserman, professor of history at Hamilton College, has written "The Other American - The Life of Michael Harrington," a fine and readable account of all this, affectionate, admiring, critical, and accurate, valuable especially for its guided tour of the mid-century left-wing sects--an arcane topic, which most historians get wrong and Isserman always gets right.