Saturday, July 11, 2009

American Dream by DeParle

I just finished reading American Dream: Three Women, Ten Kids, and a Nation's Drive to End Welfare by Jason DeParle.

Wow. What an amazing book. DeParle is a reporter for the New York Times, and in American Dream he follows three families off the welfare rolls as the U.S. transitioned from AFDC (Aid to Families with Dependent Children - a federal program of welfare) to TANFF (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families - state run programs of welfare). The three families are essentially single parent households headed by Jewell, Angie, and Opal. Sometimes they have live-in boyfriends, but definitely no full-time fathers or husbands. DeParle looks at their stories from the legislative angle of Bill Clinton's policy decision, the bureaucracy angle of Wisconsin's management of the new responsibility, from the historical angle of the Caples clan that were once slaves on a Mississippi plantation, and from the cultural angle of what it's like to be a black single mother on welfare.

This book is expansive!

Jason DeParle is an incredible journalist. He is the real deal. Man, if it weren't for the New York Times.

Also, he's married to Nancy-Ann DeParle, Obama's Health Reform czar.

So, it's not a cheerful read, by any means, but it's a well-written and very important book that has helped me to gain a better understanding of how U.S. policy on poverty has evolved in the last couple of decades. I highly recommend it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh! I'm going to check my local library for this book. Sounds really good, and seems to be something that everyone should know about to get more involved in certain policy making that's less "sexy" to talk about.

    ps- thanks for the tip on the spammer!