This is the third Olasky book I’ve read. Though they are very different books, all three have been terrific reads.
The Tragedy of American Compassion is the book that Olasky is best known for. Even though it was published thirty years ago, it stands up very well.
A compelling case is made that the prior ways of understanding compassion and therefore dispensing aid are superior to our modern policies and programs. By “prior ways,” we are talking about the nineteenth century.
Books like this can so easily fall prey to trotting out an endless stream of statistics. Numbers matter to be sure, but they don’t tell a story. W.E.B. DuBois learned that lesson in a graphic way when he realized that his fascination with numbers could not adequately convey seeing “the barbecued parts of a lynched man.”
Olasky peppers his seminal book with loads of stories that help us better understand what true compassion entails. In other words, Olasky appropriately moves both our minds and affections to consider a wiser approach.