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Refractive Reflections 

This is a compelling story of the Masoud, Crawford, and Connelly families who were introduced in earlier works by the author. Refractive Reflections evokes the horrors associated with a resurgence in religious extremism as the Taliban returns to power in Afghanistan and Christian Nationalists seek power in the United States. This work delves deeply into the complex relationships among the characters introduced earlier in this series, exploring their motivations as each faces mortality, loss, and dashed hopes. And yet, it remains a tale of redemption told with much wit and infused with palpable hope. For new readers, it will be a marvelous introduction to the author’s timeless saga that started with Oblique Journeys and Palpable Passions. For seasoned readers, this is a must read as their favorite characters confront new obstacles amidst emerging personal and political challenges. 

An Itinerant Scholar:
Reassessing our thinking about social vulnerability  

To be released in late 2023, this is a radical reworking of the author's earlier releases of The Boat Captain's Conundrum amd Confessions of an Accidental Scholar. It is intended for anyone interested in America's failures to deal with the dilemnas of poverty and social exlusion. It will not be a scholarly work per se, but an exploration founded on the author's earlier scholarship and abiding interest in the history surrounding our most enduring social challenges. Though serious in content, the work will be written in the author's well known witty and informal style. A great primer for all readers, novice and advanced. 

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Oblique Journeys

Rereleased in September, 2022, this compelling story improves upon the work originally released as Casual Choices (4.4 out of 5 stars). It examines how the youth of the turbulent 1960s made personal choices about war and peace that would determine the arc of their subsequent lives. Joshua Connelly left for Canada and spent a lifetime seeking a resolution for his choice. A moving tale of relationships and redemption that is rooted partly in the author's own experiences.

A Clueless Rebel

This is an hysterical reworking of the author’s memoir about growing up in the decades after World War II (Originally titled Ouch, Now I Remember). Infused with great wit and honesty, the story is one that delves deep into how culture both constrains us and yet provides the foundations for growth and development if, that is, one can break through the shackles that bind us. It leaves us with many laughs and a few tears. Amazon readers loved the previous release, giving it 4.9 out of 5 stars). 

Our Grand Adventure:
The trials and triumphs of India-44

Another re-release of an earlier work, this one improving upon a book titled It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time. Ever wonder what the sitcom MASH would have looked like had it been based on Peace Corps in India rather than the war in Korea? This hilarious memoir captures great intentions gone awry during the ‘wild west’ days of Peace Corps in the 1960s. It is funny, sad, and inspiring at the same time. The volunteers discovered through sharing their stories that they were the big winners from this program. Though much improved now, the last version still got a 4.4 (out of 5) star rating from Amazon readers.


Felicitous Fates

This is the third volume in the saga of the Masoud and Crawford families though it can be read independently. This series explores fundamental issues of culture, relationships, and redemption. Set in Afghanistan, England, and America, it is both timeless and contemporary. Amazon readers gave the previous volume in the series (Ordinary Obsessions) 4.8 out of 5 stars. [Papertown Press]

Evidence Based Policymaking:
Envisioning a new era of theory, research, and practice (with Karen Bogenschneider) 

Thoroughly reworked and updated, this is is the second edition of a book first released in 2010. The authors use their 70 plus years of experience in bringing research to policy audiences (plus recent analyses) to identify why rigorous research isn’t used more in social policy decisions. More importantly, they lay out what can be done about it.       

A Wayward Academic:
Reflections from the policy trenches 

This is a thoroughly reworked version of a book originally published in 2014 titled Browsing Through My Candy Store. With wit and insight, the author reviews the welfare and poverty battles during the height of the policy wars (1970s to early in this century) from his perspective on the front lines. This was when welfare was considered the Mideast of domestic policy. This is a cross over work, appreciated by academics but accessible to general audiences. Better than being there.


Coming Soon

Palpable Passions, Ordinary Obsessions and Felicitous Fates are three novels encompassing a complex, multilayered narrative that weaves together the threads of history, culture, politics, and personal relationships in a moving exploration of conflict and redemption. Focusing on two primary families, the Crawfords and the Masouds, the members of each are bonded together by necessity and choice, each character finding inspiration and solace in one another as they are buffeted by political and cultural tensions in America and Afghanistan. Throughout ongoing societal and relational crises over the past two decades, each person seeks to define their singular moral compass and their core identities as they confront the elemental questions we all face … who are we and what are we meant to do in life?   


Tom Corbett is emeritus senior scientist and an affiliate of the Institute for Research on Poverty at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where he served as associate and acting director for a decade before his retirement. He received a doctorate in Social Welfare from the University of Wisconsin and taught various social policy and program evaluation courses there for many years. During his long academic and policy career he consulted with government at the local, state, and national levels including a stint in Washington D.C. where he helped develop President Clinton’s welfare reform legislation. He has written dozens of articles and reports on poverty, social policy, and human services issues and given hundreds of talks across the nation on these topics. His earlier works not included below are Policy Into Action (2003, with Mary Clare Lennon), Evidence-Based Policymaking (2010, with Karen Bogenshneider), The Other Side of the World (2011, with Mary Jo Clark, Michael Simonds, and Heywood Turrentiine), and Return to the Other Side of the World (2013, with Mary Jo Clark, Michael Simonds, Kathy Sohn, and Heywood Turrentine). The author lives in Madison Wisconsin.        




In The Press


Dennis Dresang Ph.D., 

Professor of Public Policy, U. of Wisconsin

“Tom Corbett exposes the reader to the raw reality of confronting our most difficult social issues in this engaging, compelling, yet witty book. He brings the doing of policy alive, going beyond the dry numbers to reveal the human side of the equation.” 

Robert Moffitt Ph.D.,  

Professor of Economics, Johns Hopkins University

“A wonderful first-person account at the ground level of welfare reform in recent times. It was a momentous time for the reform of the nation’s welfare system and Corbett was in the thick of it. He relates what happened with a wry, self-deprecating sense of humor, but there are serious lessons to be learned…”

Pacific Review of Books

“…a fascinating and worthwhile read. Tenuous Tendrils by Tom Corbett is a captivating read with engaging vignettes which paint a picture of a retired professor, his life, and the connections which bind everything together.”

Karen Bogenschneider, Professor of

Human Ecology  U. of Wisconsin

“Corbett’s reflections, woven together with great insight and humor, transform public policy from a class that is boring and mundane to a career that can be engaging and germane. These stories from the political front lines can inspire even the most reluctant students to make policy a cause of their own.”

Matt Stagner, Ph.D. MPR Research  

Inc., and Univ. of Chicago

"Corbett’s stories from the front lines of policy making, like All Quiet on the Western Front or The Things They Carried, provide great insight into the way the world works, not what the generals or policy planners think is happening.”

Pacific Review of Books

"…I found “Ouch, Now I Remember) to be a witty yet edifying read, riddled with some funny moments and insights…with many of them making me laugh out loud. I enjoy his writing style; it was comforting yet candid, like listening to a respected relative recount their own life with unabashed honesty.”






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