Reclaiming the American Dream: The Role of Private Individuals and Voluntary Associations
When Reclaiming the American Dream was first published in 1965, a New York Daily News editorial called it "dynamite between book covers" and compared its potential influence to that of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Two years later, George Gallup said the book had sparked "the most dramatic shift in American thinking since the New Deal." Robert Bremner, the leading historian of the American philanthropic tradition, later listed the publication of Reclaiming the American Dream as one of the important events in the history of American philanthropy. Cornuelle was the first observer since Tocqueville to see America's unparalleled machinery for voluntary social action in large, bold terms-not just as a useful adjunct to government, but as an essential alternative to it. Reclaiming the American Dream was the first book to sketch the full dimensions of the nation's voluntary sector, give it a name (the independent sector), explain its unfamiliar metabolism, and imagine its enormous unused potential for defining the central problems of an industrial society accurately and acting on them effectively. In a new, highly personal afterword, Cornuelle explains why the effort he led to organize ambitious substitutions of voluntary action for governmental responsibility failed, and why now, more than thirty years later, it has begun to succeed. Annunziata's introductory essay discusses the book's neglected status as a classic. "Refreshingly free of cant and rancor," he writes, "its voice was authentic, appealing and inclusive-the voice of the limited government tradition but with a human face. . . . Published in the midst of an absence of intellectual curiosity and widespread indifference even among scholars, Richard Cornuelle's work helped to shape a new intellectual climate of awareness and receptivity to the voluntary, independent sector."
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