How the Dream of the Great Society Became a Nightmare

"Shlaes underlines that many who supported and implemented the Great Society held a certain belief in common: that Western European nations had shown how widespread economic interventionism—whether in the form of large welfare states or the extensive use of industrial policy—was the future. The economic models of Sweden and similar countries fascinated individuals like Walter Reuther. Why, they thought, could America not take a similarly enlightened approach?

Shlaes goes to considerable lengths to demonstrate that the desire to realize social democracy was more widespread in America than many have realized. In the realms of ideas, public opinion, and policy, Great Society advocates like Reuther and Shriver were pushing at an open door."