Ending Poverty in America: How To Restore The American Dream

Edited By: Sen. John Edwards, Marion Crain, and Arne L. Kalleberg

Readers often confuse political science and current events books. Books such as those written by the likes of Al Franken and Ann Coulter are often long on opinion and short on facts and ideas. This is typical of the basic current affairs/events type titles. Ending Poverty in America isn’t an opinionated collection. Instead it represents everything that can be good about political science titles. The book features short chapters by nineteen different social scientists, journalists, neighborhood activists and business leaders. Instead of bickering about partisan ideology, this work eschews that path and instead discusses the issue of poverty in the United States from a non ideological answers based perspective.

It is the intention of this work to propose solutions that will restore the American Dream for the nation’s poor and middle class. The solutions aren’t focused solely on government intervention. There are roles discussed for business leaders, community activists, all levels of government, and even for the poor themselves. The theme of this book can be summarized as stressing equity as well as equality. The difference between the two terms is that equity is broader than just treating everyone the same way. Equity means giving everyone at all levels of society a fair chance and opportunities to climb the ladder of success. The book itself is divided into five parts, confronting poverty and declining opportunity, the forces undermining the American Dream, spurring better jobs and creating higher incomes, sharing prosperity through asset building, and strengthening family and community.

This book was published in conjunction with The Center On Poverty, Work, and Opportunity at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The Center’s founder and director is Sen. John Edwards. Edwards’ writing contribution is limited to the conclusion, but the bulk of the writing is done by a virtual all star team of poverty researchers and experts. Every chapter provides an excellent balance between discussion of an element of the poverty issue and providing a solution. There really isn’t a sub par chapter in the book. However, the chapters by Jared Bernstein, Elizabeth Warren, William Julius Wilson, Beth Shulman, Peter Orzag, Anita Brown-Graham, and Angela Glover Blackwell really stand out.

Many books in the social sciences that feature a variety of contributors often read like several small separate works collected in same volume. This book is one of the rare collaborations that reads like a work written by a single author. The credit for this must be shared by both the contributors and the editors. Edwards, Crain, and Kalleberg did a masterful job structuring and editing this volume. An added bonus is that contributors frequently mention other chapters, so that this feels more like a book and less like a collection of ideas.

In short, Ending Poverty in America is one of the best explorations of the issue of poverty that has been published in recent years. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the issue of poverty. Unlike like a strictly academic work, Ending Poverty In America is extremely readable, and it does not require a political science degree to understand. For advanced readers, the solutions suggested in each chapter will provide fodder for policy wonks everywhere. One of the most difficult challenges in writing about politics is walking the fine line between appealing to casual readers and those interested in academic study, Ending Poverty In America is a well crafted work that manages to do both. I highly recommend it.

Buy this book at Amazon.com  

Jason Easley is the editor of the politics zone at 411mania.com.  His news column The Political Universe appears on Tuesdays and Fridays at www.411mania.com/politics

Jason can also be heard every Sunday afternoon at 1:30 pm (ET) as the host of The Political Universe Radio Show at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/thepoliticaluniverse

blog radio

Be Sociable, Share!