Picks and Pans Review: Underclass
by Ken Auletta
How can the U.S. government help the hard-core unemployed: the long-term welfare recipient, the delinquent dropout, the ex-convict and the ex-addict? To find an answer, Auletta, a New York Daily News columnist and a contributor to the New Yorker, investigated the Manpower Demonstration Research Corporation, set in motion by the Ford Foundation and the federal government in 1974. Auletta here produces portraits of two dozen men and women given a chance to get off welfare. Even more, this book is about the politics of a sensitive, expensive, chronic social problem in this country. While a third of the people the reader gets to know in Underclass succeed in getting jobs, Auletta tries hard to demonstrate the unrealistic expectations of both left and right. Journalists often are blamed for oversimplifying complex material. Auletta, a dogged reporter, has not made that mistake. (Random House, $17.50)
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