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More than Money
Food Politics
Teaching What You Don't Know
Jackie and Campy
Working Congress
minimum width for cell
The Northern Cheyenne Exodus in History and Memory
Brethren by Nature
Working in the Wings

Drawing the LineDrawing the Line

Public and Private in America

Andrew Stark

Narrated by Christopher Prince

Available from Audible

Book published by Brookings Institution Press

With the growth of the U.S national government under the Obama administration, the perennial debate over where to draw the line between public and private has come to the fore yet again. This time around, however, the stakes are higher than ever as unprecedented amounts of public money are poured into private corporations. In Drawing the Line, Andrew Stark takes a fresh and provocative look at how Americans debate the border between the public realm and the private. Are these arguments specific to policy and community, or do they reveal something bigger about politics and society?

Having conducted hundreds of interviews with policymakers and advocates, Stark weaves that input with his own innovative insights into a counterintuitive view on how citizens at the grassroots level divide up in policy debates — e.g, on education, land use, health care, and welfare — over the line between public and private responsibility. In doing so, the book provides striking "Main Street" lessons on creating new policy coalitions.

Andrew Stark teaches ethics and strategic management at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Limits of Medicine (Cambridge University Press, 2006) and Conflict of Interest in American Public Life (Harvard University Press, 2000).


“As our political discourse becomes more hysterical and polarized by the day, we’re very fortunate to have this sober and insightful book about American ideology by Andrew Stark. He shows that there is more common ground between conservatives and liberals than either side admits. Written with grace and wit, this book actually says something new about the political debates of our time. ”

—Mark Lilla, Professor of the Humanities, Columbia University

“Government in the twenty-first century is a complex mixture of the public and private. Andrew Stark has written an extremely useful book about this new world, in which he explores the moral and ethical dilemmas that confront practitioners and scholars as they attempt to define and understand boundaries that were once clear but that are increasingly ambiguous. This is a must-read for scholars and practitioners alike. ”

—Elaine C. Kamarck, Harvard Kennedy School

“A meticulous and ironic exploration of American political self-deception. Stark takes those all-important ideological captions ‘public’ and ‘private’ and capsizes them under a tsunami of mind-bending examples of people using words to mean just what they wish them to mean. ”

—David Frum, American Enterprise Institute

“American politics will become less combustible when we realize that we are not divided between conservatives who prefer the private to the public and liberals who insist on the opposite. In this compelling book, Andrew Stark shows us how we can improve our political discourse. ”

—Alan Wolfe, Boston College

“An illuminating account of what Americans argue about when they rely on competing conceptions on what’s properly private and what’s properly public in defending their policy preferences. As Andrew Stark elegantly demonstrates, these largely unexamined differences powerfully inform debates about welfare, health care, education, or the use of space. Anyone interested in rethinking social policy will find this book hard to put down. ”

—David L. Kirp, author of The Sandbox Investment: The Preschool Movement and Kids-First Politics.

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University Press Audiobooks