Summary of The Great Society at Fifty

The Triumph and the Tragedy


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The Great Society at Fifty summary
Was the Great Society a triumph, a tragedy or both?


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Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, casts an ideological eye on the Great Society’s impact on American life. The Great Society set out to end discrimination against African-Americans and reduce poverty. The author regards the first effort as successful, though it rode roughshod over states’ rights. Eberstadt calls the War on Poverty a disaster, notably because programs designed to alleviate 1960s poverty continued and expanded over successive administrations. Progressives won’t care for Eberstadt’s conclusions, and his simplistic one-sidedness can be off-putting. Nonetheless, getAbstract – always politically neutral – suggests his thought-provoking conclusions to office holders, government officials, ordinary citizens interested in debating the issues, and students of history and government policy.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What two main goals motivated the Great Society
  • How and where the effort succeeded and failed
  • What lasting impact the Great Society had on America


The Great Society
In 1964, US President Lyndon Johnson announced his War on Poverty, the tip of the wedge of what would become the Great Society. This Herculean government effort had no parallel in US history. While initially intended to end poverty and racial injustice, this war came ...
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About the Author

Nicholas Eberstadt holds the Henry Wendt Chair in Political Economy at the American Enterprise Institute. He writes frequently on demographics, entitlements and national security.

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