Jules Archer Ernest Dunbar - Essay

Ernest Dunbar

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

In an analysis that simplifies issues without being simplistic, [Washington vs. Main Street: The Struggle between Federal and Local Power] traces the shifts of power that occurred as the U.S. evolved from a colonial society in which localities had considerable autonomy to its contemporary character wherein most disputes have ramifications beyond the communities in which they may arise. To its credit, the book goes beyond the formal decision-making machinery of Congress or city hall to deal with the vast influence wielded by lobbists, pressure groups and other special interests who actually determine many of the laws under which we live. It is particularly praiseworthy for its candid assessment of the treatment of minority people by both federal and local governments. Archer does not allow the shorthand symbols of "Washington" and "Main Street" to obscure the fact that at times a president or Congress may reflect popular sentiment more than do locally-elected bodies.

The book would have been improved by the inclusion of footnotes for its specific references. But that is a small flaw in a work that does much to clarify for young people the complex interplay of federal and local power which has formed the backdrop for the development of the American system. This is a valuable study. (p. 3)

Ernest Dunbar, in Interracial Books for Children Bulletin (reprinted by permission of Interracial Books for Children Bulletin, 1841 Broadway, New York, N. Y. 10023), Vol. 6, No. 2, 1975.