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Making public policy: a hopeful view of American government.

Making Public Policy: A Hopeful View of American Government.

Steven Kelman. Basic Books,$16.95. Steven Kelman, is a professor of public policy at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. He is probably best known for his artful evisceration in The Public Interest of the hyped "findings' of massive waste reported by the Grace Commission. He has now written a full-blown text on the public policy process that takes on with special vigor the "public choice' theorists who have articulated a cynical and negative view. Ever since James Buchanan won the Nobel Prize for economics, public choice has enjoyed a special and largely uncritical cachet. Kelman mercilessly and effectively punctures that balloon. While he is perhaps a little too harsh on David Mayhew and Morris Fiorina, two political scientists whose work is more subtle and sophisticated than he allows, Kelman's critique is basically on point.

The book is really aimed at thecollege market. It is a very good addition to the range of texts on the public policy process, for students and also for faculty who work in the areas of process, politics, and/or implementation. While Kelman's writing is clear, and his examples appropriate, his sophisticated analysis makes his book somewhat less accessible to a lay audience. There is a lot of detail that will be of less interest to the non-professional political scientist or student, and some disputes and theses that will not resound for those who are not immersed in the sometimes arcane controversies. Even so, any reader of Making Public Policy will come away more knowledgeable, and more hopeful, about the American policy process.
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Author:Ornstein, Norman J.
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Book Review
Date:May 1, 1987
Words:269
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