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Paul Starr

Professor, Princeton University
Author, Remedy and Reaction

Eloquent speaker on healthcare, politics, social trends and public policy.

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Biography

Known for his blend of idealism and pragmatism, Paul Starr is one of the country’s most eloquent speakers on politics, social trends and public policy.

On Healthcare:
He is uniquely qualified to speak on the history and the future of healthcare in America.

In his most recent book, Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Health Care Reform, Paul examines the history of America’s struggle over health care reform, from the rise and fall of the Clinton health plan to Mitt Romney’s reforms in Massachusetts that became a model for democrats and the passage of President Obama’s health care package.

Paul’s previous book on healthcare is the 1984 Pulitzer Prize-winning The Social Transformation of American Medicine, a history of the American health care system.

On Politics:
His important book on the central ideas of liberal political thought, Freedom’s Power: The True Force of Liberalism, is a clear and concise statement of what liberalism is about, how it has developed, and how it ought to be conceived and fought for.

And his book The Creation of the Media: The Political Origins of American Communications won the Goldsmith Book Prize.

Paul Starr holds the Stuart Chair in Communications and Public Affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, at Princeton University.

He is co-editor of The American Prospect, a liberal quarterly about politics, policy, and ideas that he founded with journalist Robert Kuttner and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

He has appeared before numerous congressional committees and on national TV news programs.

Paul Starr is a very fine speaker. He comes extremely well prepared and speaks with intelligence, eloquence and quiet authority.

Healthcare
Probably no one knows more about how we got where we are in healthcare today than Paul Starr. The Social Transformation of American Medicine, about the history of healthcare in America, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984 and has helped shape the debate about healthcare reform ever since. Paul closed his book with some predictions about where American healthcare seemed to be going when he wrote it in 1982. Since then, virtually all of these predictions have come true.

Paul has returned to this subject with the intelligence, thoroughness and insight that made Social Transformation so valuable. In his new book, Remedy and Reaction, Paul examines the history of America’s struggle over health care reform and how the United States ensnared itself in a trap through policies and politics made to difficult to change.

He has written dozens of articles on healthcare and testified before congress on the subject three times. The Social Transformation of American Medicine has become a standard in disciplines from health law to political science and history. In 2004, a twenty-year retrospective on Social Transformation was published entitled Transforming American Medicine.

Freedom’s Power
Liberalism in America has been under siege. Conservatives treat it as an epithet and some progressives spurn it as well. But in his book Freedom’s Power, Paul Starr reminds us of its roots in American tradition and its power to make us freer and more secure. He describes how liberal society and liberal politics create power—how they generate the capacity to realize the aims of liberty, justice and security. "Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" still define its aspirations as well today as they did in Jefferson’s time. But liberalism offers more: the effective principles for creating and controlling power that have made America both prosperous and powerful.

At a time when conservative policies are weakening America’s long-term fiscal, economic, and international strength as well as its liberties, the liberal project is more urgent than ever, says Starr. Freedom's Power shows why liberalism works — and how it can work for America again.

Credentials

  • Princeton University Professor of Sociology
  • Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction
  • Former member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ
  • Goldsmith book Prize, The Creation of the Media
  • C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Study of Social Problems
  • Bancroft Prize in American History
  • James Hamilton Award, American College of Health Care Executives
  • Fellow in Law, Science and Medicine, Yale Law School
  • Fellow, John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation
  • White House advisor on health policy
  • Former director, Century Institute

Books

Remedy and Reaction: The Peculiar American Struggle over Health Care Reform (Yale University Press, 2011)

Freedom’s Power: The True Force of Liberalism (Perseus Books Group, 2007)

The Creation of the Media: Political Origins of Modern Communications (Basic Books, 2004). Goldsmith Book Prize.

The Logic of Health Care Reform, rev. and enlarged edition (Penguin, 1994); orig. ed. (Grand Rounds Press, 1992).

The Politics of Numbers (Russell Sage, 1987), edited with William Alonso.

The Social Transformation of American Medicine (Basic Books, 1982 [actually published in January 1983]). 1984 Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction; Bancroft Prize in American History, C. Wright Mills Award of the Society for the Social Problems, and James Hamilton Prize of the American College of Health Care Executives.

The Discarded Army: Veterans After Vietnam (Charterhouse, 1974), assisted by James Henry and Raymond Bonner. Introduction by Ralph Nader.

The University Crisis Reader, 2 vols., edited with Immanuel Wallerstein (Random House, 1971).

Up Against the Ivy Wall, with Jerry Avorn and others (Atheneum, 1968).

Books

Remedy and Reaction

The Peculiar American Struggle over Health Care Reform

Paul Starr

In no other country has health care served as such a volatile flashpoint of ideological conflict. America has endured a century of rancorous debate on health insurance, and despite the passage of legislation in 2010, the battle is not yet over. This book is a history of how and why the United States became so stubbornly different in health care, presented by an expert with unsurpassed knowledge of the issues.

Tracing health-care reform from its beginnings to its current uncertain prospects, Paul Starr argues that the United States ensnared itself in a trap through policies that satisfied enough of the public and so enriched the health-care industry as to make the system difficult to change.

He reveals the inside story of the rise and fall of the Clinton health plan in the early 1990s — and of the Gingrich counterrevolution that followed. And he explains the curious tale of how Mitt Romney’s reforms in Massachusetts became a model for Democrats and then follows both the passage of those reforms under Obama and the explosive reaction they elicited from conservatives. Writing concisely and with an even hand, the author offers exactly what is needed as the debate continues — a penetrating account of how health care became such treacherous terrain in American politics.

Yale University Press (October 3, 2011)

Reviews

Hillarycare: The SequelThe New York Times
The Clinton's long shadowThe Incidental Economist

Praise

"Paul Starr has written a fascinating chronicle of America’s century-long journey to health reform that is, at once, erudite history, vivid journalism, and authoritative guide to a debate that will continue for decades."
— Henry J. Aaron, co-author of Using Taxes to Reform Health Care

"Three decades ago Paul Starr wrote the definitive history of American medicine. Remedy and Reaction now offers the definitive analysis of American health care reform — its history, nature, and continuing vulnerability."
— Timothy Jost, co-editor, Transforming American Medicine: A Twenty Year Retrospective

"Remedy and Reaction is the story of health care in America, told by the man who knows it best. Whether you're a serious scholar or just a serious citizen, you should read this."
— Jonathan Cohn, senior editor, The New Republic

"Here’s the book we’ve been waiting for — a lucid history of America’s struggle over healthcare reform, blending the political, economic, and social pressures that have brought us to where we are, and suggesting where we’re headed. With great insight and impeccable writing, Paul Starr explains why that struggle has been particularly bitter and partisan in the United States, why the resulting compromises have left so many people unsatisfied, and why the underlying problems continue to evade us. Brilliant and important."
— Robert B. Reich, Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy, Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

Freedom's Power

The True Force of Liberalism

Paul Starr

A Pulitzer Prize-winning author, journalist, and intellectual argues for liberalism as the only viable response to the political and economic challenges of the modern world. Liberalism in America is in greater peril than at any other time in recent history. Conservatives treat it as an epithet, and even some liberals have confused it with sentimentality and socialism. But Paul Starr, one of America's leading intellectuals, claims that, properly understood, liberalism is a sturdy public philosophy, deeply rooted in our traditions, capable of making America a freer and more secure country.

"Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" remains as good a definition of liberalism's aims today as it was when Thomas Jefferson borrowed the language of John Locke for the Declaration of Independence. From its origins as constitutional liberalism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to the complexities of today's global political systems liberalism has provided the basis of the most prosperous and powerful states in the world. At a time when conservative policies are weakening America's long-term fiscal, economic, and international strength as well as its liberties, reinstating the power of liberalism is more urgent than ever.

Perseus Books Group (April 30, 2007)

The Creation of the Media

Paul Starr

The Creation of the Media has received the 2005 Goldsmith Book Prize from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for the "trade book that best contributes to the improvement of the quality of government or politics through an examination of the press or the intersection of the press and politics in the formation of public policy."

In this sweeping history, Paul Starr shows how politics created our media world, from the emergence of the first newspapers and postal systems in early modern Europe and colonial America to the rise of the mass press, telecommunications, motion pictures, and broadcasting in the twentieth century. Critical choices about freedom of expression, ownership of media, the architecture of networks, secrecy, privacy, and intellectual property have made the modern media as much a political as a technological invention.

The American Revolution, Starr argues, set the United States off on a path of development in communications that diverged sharply from patterns in Europe. By the early nineteenth century, when the United States was neither a world power nor a primary center of scientific discovery, it was already a leader in postal service, newspapers, and popular journalism, then in development of telegraph and telephone networks, later in the whole repertoire of mass media and entertainment. The rise of the media has become the story of an American ascendancy-and an American dilemma. The framework of communications established in the United States has proved to be a source of economic growth, cultural influence, and even military advantage for the country. But the media have also become a constellation of power in their own right, upsetting the classical vision of the role of the press in a democracy. The Creation of the Media not only presents the media in a new way; it also puts American politics into a new perspective.

Basic Books, March 30, 2004

Social Transformation of American Medicine

The Rise of a Sovereign Profession and the Making of a Vast Industry

Paul Starr

Winner of the1983 Pulitzer Prize and Bancroft Prize in American History

Winner of the 1983 Pulitzer Prize and the Bancroft Prize in American History, this is a landmark history of how the entire American health care system of doctors, hospitals, health plans, and government programs has evolved over the last two centuries.

Basic Books, 1983

Topics

Paul tailors each presentation to the needs of his audience and is not limited to the topics we have listed below. These are subjects that have proven valuable to customers in the past and are meant only to suggest his range and interests. Please ask us about any subject that interests you; we are sure that we can accommodate you.

Healthcare

American society

Domestic & foreign policy

Liberalism

Communication & information

Privatization

The battle of ideas

Videos

The American Struggle over Health Care Reform | TEDx

Feedback

A major US university:
I was so very impressed with Dr. Starr today as was my colleagues. He was not only extremely knowledgeable of the topic but was impressive in how he handled the audiences questions especially ones that seem to be challenging his knowledge.