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THE SECRET LIVES OF CITIZENS. Pursuing the Promise of American Life. Signed by author

Geoghegan, Thomas

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ISBN 10: 067942153X / ISBN 13: 9780679421535
Editorial: Pantheon Books, New York, NY, 1998
Condición: Near fine condition Encuadernación de tapa dura
Librería: Kurt Gippert Bookseller ABAA (Chicago, IL, Estados Unidos de America)

Librería en AbeBooks desde: 8 de agosto de 1998

Cantidad: 1

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viii, 240 pages of text. Hardcover cloth binding. Unclipped dustjacket with minimal shelfwear; protected in archival mylar. Signed by author on title page. Size: Octavo (8vo). N° de ref. de la librería 004791

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Título: THE SECRET LIVES OF CITIZENS. Pursuing the ...

Editorial: Pantheon Books, New York, NY

Año de publicación: 1998

Encuadernación: Hardcover

Condición del libro:Near fine condition

Condición de la sobrecubierta: Very good+ condition (DJ)

Ejemplar firmado: Signed by Author(s)

Edición: First Edition.

Tipo de libro: Book

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Now, at a time when the cynicism about our government's value is a topic of heated discussion, Thomas Geoghegan vividly redefines the terms of the debate.  Combining memoir and trenchant observation, he uses his own life to explore what it means to be a "national" civil servant and a "local" citizen.
He begins with the sense that a child has of Washington, D.C.--the marble presence of a big central government created by the New Deal. It was in this city that Geoghegan and many others of his generation expected to live their lives as civil servants and lawyers: the national elite, serving the common good, pursuing the promise of American life.
The decline of the "national idea," the rise of the States, and the growing weakness of the central government pushed Geoghegan to the local level in Chicago.  There, as a lawyer, he fought evils of a new kind: tuberculosis among the homeless, the spread of child labor, the use of jails to house the poor--evils that the progressives at the turn of the century had vanquished but were now back in a new and more virulent form.
National government and majority rule were once the two great achievements of our history. But now, as Geoghegan vividly shows, the weakness and gridlock of the central government has undermined our sense of local community and local citizenship, and, most perniciously, has restricted our ability to affect the political process at every level, leading to disengagement.
In revealing the true nature of the current problems and the connections among them, The Secret Lives of Citizens shows how we might reclaim our right to shape our government and secure for everyone the true promise of American life.


In the post-welfare reform, booming economic era of the 1990s, what's a liberal to do? Thomas Geoghegan offers an answer in The Secret Lives of Citizens, a breathy, confessional, stream of consciousness tale that is part diary, part chronicle of civic involvement at the end of the 20th century. In the book, Geoghegan begins as an intern at The New Republic and an Energy Department functionary in the Carter administration. But he is dissatisfied; he feels disconnected. So he moves to Chicago in search of surviving traces of the New Deal. He contemplates running for office, then becomes involved in Harold Washington's mayoral campaign, then files several lawsuits on behalf of the poor. But he remains discontented--and that, more than anything else, seems to be his theme.

Liberals who feel let-down by Bill Clinton's shift towards ideological centrism may find some solace in The Secret Lives of Citizens. Geoghegan is concerned about the collapse of the labor union movement, the demise of cities, and the rise of state and local government control. He is terrified of the growth in population and stature of the South: "I could go down to the Potomac River, along Ohio Drive, on a hot August night, and hear it growing in the dark." He also hates the West: "The Senate, then and now, overrepresents: 1. Small states; 2. Deserts; 3. Republicans; 4. Babies." (By babies, he does not mean infants, but westerners who whine about Washington interfering with the use of western lands.)

He even decries the unfairness of Chicago's resident parking rules: "As I circle and circle it hits me: Bad enough to lose the New Deal. Bad enough to lose planning. Bad enough that even our mayor lives now in a private complex, and we can't see him. But my God, can't there be a place to park?" Towards the end of the book, he discusses the ever-growing wage gap between rich and poor. "And the key is that our democracy lets it happen," he laments, "people don't vote, they think the government can do nothing about this. But a necessary condition of the American model that we boast about in Europe is that less than half the country votes. No majority rule: that's how we can downsize, etc. That's the new American model." And that is an outrage. --Linda Killian

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