Winning the War on Poverty
Applying the Lessons of History to the Present
by Brian L. Fife
April 2018, 236pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3281-9
$60, £45, 52€, A82
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3282-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Fifteen percent of the U.S. population lives in poverty.

Applying lessons from history to the reality of poverty today in the United States—the most affluent country in the world—this book analyzes contributing factors to poverty and proposes steps to relieve people affected by it.

American history is replete with efforts to alleviate poverty. While some efforts have resulted in at least partial success, others have not, because poverty is a multifaceted, complicated phenomenon with no simple solution. Winning the War on Poverty studies the history of poverty relief efforts in the United States dating to the nineteenth century, debunking misperceptions about the poor and tackling the problem of the ever-widening gap between the rich and poor. It highlights the ideological differences between liberal and conservative beliefs and includes insights drawn from a well-rounded group of disciplines including political science, history, sociology, economics, and public health.

Premised on the idea that only the lessons of history can help policymakers to recognize that the United States has a persistent poverty problem that is much worse than it is in many other democracies, the book suggests an 18-point plan to substantively address this dilemma. Its vision for reform does not pander to any particular ideology or political party; rather, the objective of this book is to explain how the United States can win the war on poverty in the short term.


  • Merges theory, real-life stories, and data analysis for a comprehensive view of poverty
  • Addresses poverty in the United States through an interdisciplinary approach
  • Offers proactive measures to reduce the U.S. poverty level
  • Emphasizes the value of learning from history to stop mistakes that can still be avoided
Brian L. Fife is professor and chair of the Department of Public Policy at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, to become Purdue University Fort Wayne in 2018. His published books include Old School Still Matters: Lessons from History to Reform Public Education in America, Reforming the Electoral Process in America: Toward More Democracy in the 21st Century, Political Culture and Voting Systems in the United States: An Examination of the 2000 Presidential Election, and Higher Education in Transition: The Challenges of the New Millennium, among others.


"Fife has produced an insightful and compelling volume. It is richly grounded in history, grapples with both technological and ideological issues related to poverty in the United States, and presents innovative and concrete recommendations for anti-poverty policy. It is sure to stimulate new thinking and debate in the field."—Lawrence M. Berger, Director, Institute for Research on Poverty and Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor, School of Social Work, University of Wisconsin-Madison
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