In this collaborative and interdisciplinary book, Hammack and Anheier set out to provide a history of American foundations from the American Revolution to the present time and to contribute to national and international academic debates about the place of foundations in American society. Starting from the premise that “American charities have always enjoyed wide possibilities, possibilities that have expanded over decades” (17), this book, unfortunately, presents an all-too-euphoric and conflict-averse interpretation that sees foundations as the pillar of an expanding civil society. Conflicts about the power of foundations in American society that resulted in laws limiting the transfer of funds to philanthropy during the nineteenth century and caused Congress repeatedly to convene committees and public hearings to investigate foundations are, with the exception of Wright Patman’s activities, absent from this account. Patman, however, was not a fringe lunatic; he was certainly not alone in his (justified, albeit exaggerated) concerns about...
A Versatile American Institution: The Changing Ideals and Realities of Philanthropic Foundations. By David C. Hammack and Helmut K. Anheier (Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution Press, 2013) 273 pp. $26.95
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Thomas Adam; A Versatile American Institution: The Changing Ideals and Realities of Philanthropic Foundations. By David C. Hammack and Helmut K. Anheier (Washington, D.C., Brookings Institution Press, 2013) 273 pp. $26.95. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History 2015; 46 (3): 456–458. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/JINH_r_00884
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