Edward Christie Banfield was born in Bloomfield, Connecticut on November 19, 1916. He married Laura Fasano in 1938, who helped him produce the renown book, The Moral Basis of a Backward Society (1958). Banfield died in East Montpelier, Vermont on September 30, 1999. (Mrs. Banfield died in New York City on August 20, 2006.)
Banfield worked for the Farm Security Administration during the New Deal before entering the University of Chicago, where he earned his Ph.D in political science. He taught at there and at Harvard University and the University of Pennsylvania. He served as an advisor to President Richard M. Nixon and authored numerous studies on poverty, urban planning, policy, and politics, and American governance generally.
Banfield’s scholarship drew upon many sources, including his employment as a journalist and government employee, and his readings in philosophy, history, sociology, and economics. Written in clear and often blunt prose, Banfield’s works attracted attention both within and without academia and, sadly, often elicited intemperate responses and personal attacks.
Though many years have passed since they were first written, Banfield’s books remain insightful and intellectually provocative.