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Philanthropy in America:
A History
Updated Edition
Olivier Zunz
With a new preface by the author

Paperback | 2014 | $19.95 | £14.95 | ISBN: 9780691161204
400 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4
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eBook | ISBN: 9781400850242 |
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Q & A with Oliver Zunz

American philanthropy today expands knowledge, champions social movements, defines active citizenship, influences policymaking, and addresses humanitarian crises. How did philanthropy become such a powerful and integral force in American society? Philanthropy in America is the first book to explore in depth the twentieth-century growth of this unique phenomenon. Ranging from the influential large-scale foundations established by tycoons such as John D. Rockefeller, Sr., and the mass mobilization of small donors by the Red Cross and March of Dimes, to the recent social advocacy of individuals like Bill Gates and George Soros, respected historian Olivier Zunz chronicles the tight connections between private giving and public affairs, and shows how this union has enlarged democracy and shaped history.

Demonstrating that America has cultivated and relied on philanthropy more than any other country, Philanthropy in America examines how giving for the betterment of all became embedded in the fabric of the nation's civic democracy.


"In a sweeping, insightful history, Olivier Zunz has traced the evolution of American philanthropy over the past 150 years and its contribution to democracy and civil society. What is particularly satisfying is his focus--somewhat rare among books about American philanthropy--on the extent to which foundations and other grantmaking programs have been involved in shaping national affairs and public policy. This involvement, Zunz rightfully claims, has been an important force not only in strengthening American democracy but in establishing philanthropic institutions as integral parts of society. . . . A splendid book about philanthropy in America."--Pablo Eisenberg, The Nation

"One of the lessons of Olivier Zunz's meticulous new history, however, is that innovation in philanthropy is not new. There has been constant evolution in the ways that US citizens donate to good causes, in how private charity interacts with government policy, and in the degree to which it is dominated by the wealthy."--John Gapper, Financial Times

"A readable account of how philanthropy caught on in the United States more pervasively than any other nation. . . . Zunz mixes case studies, mini-biography and academic theory to demonstrate that both the superwealthy and common folks have invested in giving to the needy as part of an effort to make America a better place. . . . A sterling example of how an academic author can combine high-level theory with interesting, important real-world examples."--Kirkus Reviews

"[T]his is an excellent resource for those interested in philanthropy and its place in American life."--Foreign Affairs

"In Philanthropy in America, a beautifully written and constantly engaging new book, the historian Olivier Zunz takes the reader on a journey from the mid-19th century origins of organized giving to the present day."--Michael Edwards, Chronicle of Philanthropy

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments ix
Preface to the Paperback Edition ix
Introduction 1
Chapter 1: "For the Improvement of Mankind" 8
Chapter 2: The Coming of Mass Philanthropy 44
Chapter 3: The Regulatory Compromise 76
Chapter 4: The Private Funding of Affairs of State 104
Chapter 5: From Humanitarianism to Cold War 137
Chapter 6: Philanthropy at Midcentury: "Timid Billions"? 169
Chapter 7: Investing in Civil Rights 201
Chapter 8: In Search of a Nonprofit Sector 232
Chapter 9: American Philanthropy and the World’s Communities 264
Conclusion 294
Notes 301
Index 351

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