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New book: The Real Change-Makers: Why Government Is Not the Problem or the Solution, by David Warfield Brown ’59 (Praeger)

The author: An attorney, Brown has held a range of jobs in government and higher education. He was a chief-of-staff on Capitol Hill, chairman of the New York State Commission of Investigation, deputy mayor of New York City, a professor at Yale’s School of Management, and president of Blackburn College. The author of two previous books, including When Strangers Cooperate: Using Social Conventions to Govern Ourselves, he is the coeditor of Higher Education Exchange, a publication of the Kettering Foundation. His research focuses on the social dimensions of problem solving.

The book: Whether it’s poverty, high-school dropouts, obesity, or any other social problem, government did not create the problem and it cannot solve it for us, argues Brown. “Too many [people] seem all too ready to fault government for doing too much or too little but rarely point the finger at themselves,” writes Brown. He calls on citizens to self organize and stop waiting for “hard-pressed governments” with “fewer resources … to compensate for our failure to do something.” And he provides guidance on how to go about tackling social problems.

Opening lines: “The young surgeon in the emergency room asked me, ‘Why, Mr. Brown, do you rollerblade?’ I looked up at him, ‘Hey, I’m 64 and I need the workout.’ He looked down at the deep gash in my forehead and laughed, ‘Don’t you think you should act your age?’ Then I laughed, ‘Over my dead body!’ … A bad tumble, however, has a strange way of clearing the head, of reducing one’s thoughts to essential things like standing up, lying down, and getting through the night. And that’s when I first had the idea for this book — in the middle of the night.”