"Bill Clinton vowed to "end welfare as we know it" in his first run for president in 1992. Four years later, Congress translated a catchy slogan into a law that sent 9 million women and children streaming from the rolls. Did it work? In his book on the historic upheaval in the American social contract, New York Times reporter and two-time Pulitzer finalist Jason DeParle follows three women in one extended family to a set of surprising answers." "Cutting between Washington and the streets of Milwaukee, DeParle follows the story from the White House to the local crack house." "DeParle travels between the politicians who wrote the bill and the poor people who lived it. He spent seven years tracking an unforgettable set of characters caught in its wake. Angela Jobe, Jewell Reed, and Opal Caples - cousins, yet closer than sisters - arrive in Milwaukee just as the city becomes the epicenter of the antiwelfare crusade. Their responses vex the expectations of the political left and right. After a dozen years on welfare, Angie thrives as a worker, with a car, two jobs, and a 401(k) - yet her children struggle in school, and her boyfriend tries to shoot her. Jewell, glamorous even in sweatpants, isn't focused on work; what she cares about are her kids and the imprisoned man she wants to marry. Opal combines an antic wit with an appetite for cocaine, while the for-profit welfare agency handling her case squanders the taxpayers' millions. Tracing the story back six generations to a common ancestor - a Mississippi slave - DeParle adds intellectuals, caseworkers, reformers, and rogues to a tale of adversity variously overcome, compounded, or merely endured."--BOOK JACKET.
Long after I first read this book and started recommending it to people, I saw DeParle mentioned in one of Sr. Helen Prejean's books as a sympathetic journalist. His is a fine pedigree, looking into issues that most people want to sweep under the rug.