Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic kindly included “Whatever It Takes” on his list of suggested “Gifts for the Wonk in Your Life,” writing:
Winning the War on Poverty: I first encountered the writing of Paul Tough a few weeks ago, while working on an article about the long-term effects of adversity in the first two years of life. Tough had written a New Yorker article on the subject. But recently I discovered that he had, years ago, written a terrific book on a related subject. Whatever It Takes focuses on the Harlem Children’s Zone and Geoffrey Canada, the man who created it. The Zone is an effort to create a seamless system of social supports for low-income children within Harlem. The book is uplifting and depressing, hopeful and pessimistic. In short, it is complicated, just like public policy in the real world.