Great Society

Great Society, in U.S. history, term for the domestic policies of President Lyndon Johnson. In his first State of the Union message, he called for a war on poverty and the creation of a "Great Society," a prosperous nation that had overcome racial divisions. To this end, Johnson proposed an expansion in the federal government's role in domestic policy. During his administration, Congress enacted two major civil-rights acts (1964 and 1965), the Economic Opportunity Act (1964), and two education acts (1965). In addition, legislation was passed that created the Job Corps, Operation Head Start, Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), Medicaid, and Medicare. Although the Great Society program made significant contributions to the protection of civil rights and the expansion of social programs, critics increasingly complained that the antipoverty programs were ineffective and wasteful. The economic and political costs of the escalation of the Vietnam War, as well as the costs of these programs themselves, soon overtook Johnson's domestic initiatives.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Great Society: Selected full-text books and articles

President Johnson's War on Poverty: Rhetoric and History By David Zarefsky University of Alabama Press, 1986
In the Shadow of the Poorhouse: A Social History of Welfare in America By Michael B. Katz Basic Books, 1996 (10th Rev. edition)
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 9 "The War on Poverty and the Expansion of Social Welfare"
Welfare as We Knew It: A Political History of the American Welfare State By Charles Noble Oxford University Press, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Five "The Great Society"
The Welfare State: Who Is My Brother's Keeper? By Joseph Boskin; Fred Krinsky Glencoe Press, 1968
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Four "The War on Poverty"
Lyndon B. Johnson: The Exercise of Power By Rowland Evans; Robert Novak New American Library, 1966
Librarian’s tip: Chap. XIX "The Great Society"
America Divided: The Civil War of the 1960s By Maurice Isserman; Michael Kazin Oxford University Press, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "The Rise of the Great Society" and Chap. 10 "The Fall of the Great Society"
The Great Society: Lessons for the Future By Eli Ginzberg; Robert M. Solow Basic Books, 1974
Whatever Possessed the President? Academic Experts and Presidential Policy, 1960-1988 By Robert Coldwell Wood University of Massachusetts Press, 1993
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "Flood Tide: Experts and the Great Society"
Ideology and Political Choice: The Search for Freedom, Justice, and Virtue By Vernon Van Dyke Chatham House Publishers, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 4 "Progressive Liberalism: The Great Society and Welfare"
What Was Really Great about the Great Society By Califano, Joseph A The Washington Monthly, Vol. 31, No. 10, October 1999
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