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Great Society

A New History
Narrated by: Terence Aselford
Length: 17 hrs and 45 mins
Categories: History, American
4.5 out of 5 stars (34 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The New York Times best-selling author of The Forgotten Man and Coolidge offers a stunning revision of our last great period of idealism, the 1960s, with burning relevance for our contemporary challenges.

"Great Society is accurate history that reads like a novel, covering the high hopes and catastrophic missteps of our well-meaning leaders." (Alan Greenspan)

Today, a battle rages in our country. Many Americans are attracted to socialism and economic redistribution, while opponents of those ideas argue for purer capitalism. In the 1960s, Americans sought the same goals many seek now: an end to poverty, higher standards of living for the middle class, a better environment, and more access to health care and education. Then, too, we debated socialism and capitalism, public sector reform versus private sector advancement. Time and again, whether under John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, or Richard Nixon, the country chose the public sector. Yet, the targets of our idealism proved elusive. What’s more, Johnson’s and Nixon’s programs shackled millions of families in permanent government dependence. Ironically, Shlaes argues, the costs of entitlement commitments made a half century ago preclude the very reforms that Americans will need in coming decades.

In Great Society, Shlaes offers a powerful companion to her legendary history of the 1930s, The Forgotten Man, and shows that in fact there was scant difference between two presidents we consider opposites: Johnson and Nixon. Just as technocratic military planning by "the Best and the Brightest" made failure in Vietnam inevitable, so planning by a team of the domestic best and brightest guaranteed fiasco at home. At once history and biography, Great Society sketches moving portraits of the characters in this transformative period, from US Presidents to the visionary UAW leader Walter Reuther, the founders of Intel, and Federal Reserve chairmen William McChesney Martin and Arthur Burns. Great Society casts new light on other figures, too, from Ronald Reagan, then governor of California, to the socialist Michael Harrington and the protest movement leader Tom Hayden. Drawing on her classic economic expertise and deep historical knowledge, Shlaes upends the traditional narrative of the era, providing a damning indictment of the consequences of thoughtless idealism with striking relevance for today. Great Society captures a dramatic contest with lessons both dark and bright for our own time.

Supplemental enhancement PDF accompanies the audiobook.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio.

©2019 Amity Shlaes (P)2019 HarperAudio

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Another outstanding book by Amity Shlaes!

Amity Shlaes has written another splendid book. I have read other books of hers, including COOLIDGE and THE FORGOTTEN MAN, which were both superb. This one covers the period from the late 1950s to the early 1970s. She brilliantly chronicles how The Great Society, as promulgated by LBJ, achieved exceedingly few of its goals. The Democrats were happy to pass the legislation that started the US down the path towards socialism. The billions of dollars wasted on programs which were nothing but boondoggles was staggering. In effect, President Lyndon B. Johnson was trying to outshine his hero FDR! Alas, we are still feeling the fiscal effects of this "master" politician.

It is so refreshing to encounter a book which has the ring of truth to it. I hardily commend all three books to anyone who wants a factual history of the 1930s-1970s. I am already anticipating her next book! Amity Shlaes is a brilliant researcher and wonderful writer.

The reader is excellent.

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Very well researched and logically presented.

Having come of age during many of the events covered, I had rather skeptical expectations of this book. I was very pleasantly surprised that the book is well researched, logically and objectively presented with sophisticated coverage of individuals and events during a very interesting time in our culture’s recent history. To anyone who enjoys a thoughtful and thorough exposé, I would highly recommend this book.