Strong men have sound ideas and the force to make these ideas effective… Andrew Mellon


Calvin Coolidge, Andrew Mellon and Herbert Hoover. White House, Washington, D.C.

Calvin Coolidge, Andrew Mellon and Herbert Hoover. White House, Washington, D.C.

The forgotten man: a new history of the Great Depression New York: HarperCollins Publishers, c 2007 Amity Shlaes Depressions 1929 United States Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. x, 464 p., [16] p. of plates: ill.; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [415]-433) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Dr. R.B. Owens, J.J. Carty, Frank Sprague, Wm. Stanley, Sam'l Insull, Dr. Walton Clark, T.A. Edison and wife, Chevalier Van Rappard, Dr. R. Tait McKenzie

Dr. R.B. Owens, J.J. Carty, Frank Sprague, Wm. Stanley, Sam’l Insull, Dr. Walton Clark, T.A. Edison and wife, Chevalier Van Rappard, Dr. R. Tait McKenzie

It’s difficult today to imagine how America survived the Great Depression. Only through the stories of the common people who struggled during that era can we really understand how the nation endured. These are the people at the heart of Shlaes’s history of one of the most crucial events of the twentieth century.

William Griffith Wilson - Bill W

William Griffith Wilson – Bill W

In The Forgotten Man, Shlaes offers a striking reinterpretation of the Great Depression. Rejecting the old emphasis on the New Deal, she turns to the neglected and moving stories of individual Americans, and shows how through their own leadership they helped establish the steadfast character we developed as a nation.

New York. Entrance to one of Father Divine's "Heavens" on the East Side

New York. Entrance to one of Father Divine’s “Heavens” on the East Side

Some of those figures were well known, at least in their day — Andrew Mellon, the Greenspan of the era; Sam Insull of Chicago, hounded as a scapegoat. But there were also unknowns: the Schechters, a family of butchers in Brooklyn who dealt a stunning blow to the New Deal; Bill W., who founded Alcoholics Anonymous in the name of showing that small communities could help themselves; and Father Divine, a black charismatic who steered his thousands of followers through the Depression by preaching a Gospel of Plenty.

S.C. Dooley, M.J. Divine

S.C. Dooley, M.J. Divine

Shlaes also traces the mounting agony of the New Dealers themselves as they discovered their errors. She shows how Roosevelt failed to understand the first principles of a market economy and heaped massive burdens of debt on the country that more than offset the benefit of New Deal programs. The real question about the Depression, she argues, is not whether Roosevelt ended it with World War II but why the Depression lasted so long – from 1929 to 1942? Shlae’s answer that federal intervention helped to make the Depression great — in part by forgetting the men and women who sought to help one another – should be compulsory reading for ALL government employees!

Cartoon shows an exhausted ragged figure labeled "Congress" handing President Roosevelt (clad in a sportsman's hat and carrying fishing gear) a huge rolled up document labeled "$4,880,000,000 Work Relief." Congress begs, "Now, lemme go home, Boss!" In April 1934, after marathon sessions lasting almost three months, Congress passed Roosevelt's multi-billion dollar relief bill, the largest single appropriation in the nation's history. The bill was carried to the president who signed it on the train as he returned from a 13-day fishing trip.

Cartoon shows an exhausted ragged figure labeled “Congress” handing President Roosevelt (clad in a sportsman’s hat and carrying fishing gear) a huge rolled up document labeled “$4,880,000,000 Work Relief.” Congress begs, “Now, lemme go home, Boss!” In April 1934, after marathon sessions lasting almost three months, Congress passed Roosevelt’s multi-billion dollar relief bill, the largest single appropriation in the nation’s history. The bill was carried to the president who signed it on the train as he returned from a 13-day fishing trip.

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