Miles to Go

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

A sociologist by training, Daniel Patrick Moynihan has spent much of his lifetime in public office. First in the executive branch under both Republican and Democratic presidents and later in the Senate, he has devoted much of his career to finding solutions to problems that beset modern society. MILES TO GO: A PERSONAL HISTORY OF SOCIAL POLICY represents a survey of those problems along with recommended solutions.

The book is divided into problems of a general nature and those more immediate. Generally optimistic, Moynihan gives a favorable assessment of the economic policies of modern industrial nations. Business cycles have been successfully moderated through government intervention into the economy. He further applauds the fact that a corps of academically trained specialists, not just in economics but in the social service areas of government, are now involved as never before.

His examination of specific issues, however, is not so optimistic. He believes that a balanced budget amendment will seriously limit governmental power to prevent depressions. Certain welfare legislation, he argues, will likely result in the impoverishment of millions of children. The constant rise in nonmarital births since 1960, not only in the United States but in other developed nations as well, will burden the institutions of society far into the future. As with other issues, Moynihan acknowledges that too little is known about the subject for governments to manage it effectively. As for the drug problem, Moynihan explores it but offers only tentative suggestions for its solution.

Moynihan’s analyses are supported by his knowledge of economic and social theory and by frequent use of statistical data. For the most part his positions are centrist. His thoughtful and often bold excursions into contested issues are sure to stir controversy, yet they make for illuminating reading.

Sources for Further Study

Booklist. XCIII, September 15, 1996, p. 190.

Business Week. November 18, 1996, p. 19.

Commentary. CII, October, 1996, p. 63.

Commonweal. CXXIII, November 8, 1996, p. 17.

Library Journal. CXXI, October 1, 1996, p. 110.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. October 27, 1996, p. 2.

The Nation. CCLXIII, October 21, 1996, p. 25.

The New York Times Book Review. CI, November 10, 1996, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly. CCXLIII, September 16, 1996, p. 62.

Washington Monthly. XXVIII, December, 1996, p. 59.