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Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945
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Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (Oxford History of the United States #9)

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  2,685 ratings  ·  104 reviews
Freedom From Fear tells the story of the New Deal's achievements, with out slighting its shortcomings, contradictions, and failures. It is a story rich in drama and peopled with unforgettable personalities, incl uding the incandescent but enigmatic figure of Roosevelt himself.
Hardcover, 990 pages
Published May 6th 1999 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 1999)
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This is a survey text which is not to say it can't deal with familiar material in a fresh and innovative way. It's extremely well done. I learned some new things and had my knowledge enhanced in other areas:

1. The government Hoover presided over represented 3% of the GDP. According to Kennedy, it was largely the puny size of the federal government that limited Hoover's attempts to effect change. That and the fact that he was too wedded to the gold standard, which FDR abandoned, and he saw r
Erik Simon
Let me say that one of the things I find fascinating about our current depression (and it is a depression) is that every Tom, Dick and Harry is all of a sudden an economic expert. We're in a situation in which the world's greatest economic minds aren't quite sure what to do, and yet that ass hole who lives next door is convinced that what we're doing is wrong. Speaking of ass holes, I'm amazed at the revision of the Depression currently swirling around out there, not only by psuedo-historian cun ...more
This is part of the Oxford History of the United States. The book was very well written and very engaging and I would have given 5 stars, but I was expecting something slightly different.

The book is basically divided into 2 halves, the depression and WWII. I felt that the author did a really good job summarizing the important events of WWII and providing interesting insights into the conflict.

For the depression, this book does an excellent job covering the political, economic and some demograph
Freedom From Fear is David Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize winning 850+ page dense and detailed look at the United States during the years 1929-1945*. In the book, Kennedy does an admirable job of dissecting the 17 year period of American history in a lively and non-laborious manner for the reader. This is probably one of the two or three most important periods of American history and one where many details get somewhat glossed over in schools due its recentness and due to the fact that it is easier to ...more
Jeremy Perron
The one thing that remains constant as I continue my march through the ages of history of the United States, is that America is a nation that continues to transform and change. The two extraordinary events of the Great Depression and World War II helped transform the nation its people. The leader though both of these great crises was Franklin D. Roosevelt. Not since George Washington led us through both the American Revolution and the early days of the national government had one leader impacted ...more
In Time’s Man of the Year edition, they outlined some works in Ben Bernanke’s library. I picked up several of them, including this one on the Great Depression. This work is yet another tome, 900 pages or so… but well worth the read. The first half is devoted to the causes and results of the Great Depression. Sadly, since Reagan took office, there has been a wholesale dismantling of the protections put in place in reaction to the Depression. I literally covered the first half of the book with hig ...more
Robert Morrow
There are two things you should know before reading this book. The first is that it is a very thorough history of the period, and as such, a fairly long book that requires a serious commitment. The second is, as other reviewers have noted, there is very little about the people beyond statistics and a few anecdotes. Rather, this is a comprehensive textbook of American history from the Great Depression to the end of World War II, and as such, FDR gets a lot of air time.

That said, it is an excellen
Did I just read great history or a massive review packet? David Kennedy writes well and his familiarity and expertise in this period can hardly be doubted. At the end of several days with Freedom from Fear, however, I couldn't credit Kennedy with mastery of his subject, simply because he tried to encompass so much compartmentalized history that many sections simply read as overviews of an issue drawn from others' scholarship.

Kennedy begins with a perfectly serviceable and sweeping exploration of
I only read the first half, up until WWII. Put simply, this is a masterful synthesis of major works in the field.

Kennedy’s addition to the Oxford History series focuses on America from the onset of the Depression until the end of the Second World War. His title is misleading. “The American People” are not the emphasis of this well-written overview. Instead, Kennedy examines the policies of Hoover and to a much greater extent FDR. Roosevelt, to Kennedy, is the unique individual by which this era
Tiffoknee the 3rd Conner
Don't let the size of this book intimidate you. It's an ambitious work which does a fine job of encapsulating the decision making and policy considerations which were responsible for shaping the New Deal. But Kennedy goes further and shows how the American people's willingness to invest in a vision were crucial to any prospects of economic recovery. What's more, you learn a very significant history lesson: One does not set out to make history, history is made when men (and women! Roosevelt appoi ...more
Justin Collings
A magisterial march through a remarkable period of American history. I am a huge fan of the Oxford History of the United States, and this volume may rival James MacPherson's "Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era" as the best piece in the series. Kennedy's prose is occasionally over the top, but he usually writes with power and verve. He is an excellent portraitist: FDR, General MacArthur, Huey Long, and a host of others come alive in his vivid sketches. The book is very big but it moves very ...more
Kennedy's survey of American life from the start of the Great Depression to the final days of World War Two has a terrible task in front of it: to survey American life from the start of the Great Depression to the final days of World War Two. Economic crisis, dramatic shifts in the social and political order of the country, not to mention the country's understanding of itself in the world, and a fantastically complicated, global conflict that re-shaped the world as its contemporaries knew it do ...more
Mar 27, 2008 Kelley rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history readers
It is easy to forget what an incredible impact The Great Depression and WWII have had on the world we live in today. This history of the US from the late 1920's to the immediate post war years, will help any reader understand the shift in the US from a nation of individuals to a national welfare state.

The figure of FDR is central to the story, though it is not a biography of him. His view of the role of government in the lives of its citizens and his relationship with Churchill and Stalin set t
Aaron Arnold
Another Oxford History of the US entry, this one covers the Great Depression and World War 2. Those are the decades that fundamentally changed America in a way that will probably never happen again - we have grown too big, too complacent, and though reading through the section on the start of the Depression will have you punching walls in frustration at how little people seem to have learned, it seems like against all odds maybe we have retained a tiny bit about the value of a safety net and the ...more
Brian Collins
This is another well-written contribution to the Oxford History of the United States. Of course any history of the Great Depression has to reckon with competing economic theories, and any history that largely covers the years of the Roosevelt presidency has to reckon with competing, partisan evaluations of FDR. Kennedy identifies himself twice in the book as embracing a Keynesian approach to economics. In interviews about the book he identifies himself as personally occupying a center-left polit ...more
Feb 24, 2009 Emmy marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-buy
From my Grandpa - "For a better understanding of the FDR saga, I suggest you obtain the Oxford history book, "Freedom from Fear," by David M. Kennedy which is the award winning book about the American People in Depression and War, covering the period 1929-1945. This is the most objective and unpolitical analysis of a period which encompassed a large segment of my life. I read a lot of history and this covers that period well"
Like all the Oxford series this book is part of, Kennedy's history of the Depression and WWII is excellent. It provides insights into Hoover and FDR, describing New Deal programs and battles with the right amount of detail, and even asking the right moral questions about the war and its conduct. And it's a delight to read, full of anecdote and fact, while never losing the major threads of the history being described.
I read this as part of the research I did for a History Writing class in college. I did not have the opportunity to read the entire book but the 3 chapters I did read (13, 15 and 16) were informative and produced good evidence. This is certainly is not a summer reading book or even a must-read for an amatuer historian, however, Kennedy's research is excellent and this is a must for any college History student.
A wonderful overview of this period of American history. About as even-handed as one could hope for, and while the war section devolves, as they usually do, into a laundry list of specifications and operations, the insights into the cause of the Depression, the national mood during the early 30's, and the character of the era's biggest players make the book well worth a read. I certainly learned a lot.
I am so grateful I caught a prepublication interview by the author on BookTV. This 1000-pager dives into the 16-year period from the Great Depression through the end of WWII and defines American History leading into my generation. A MUST for history interests!
Jun 30, 2008 Shannon rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Shannon by: history lovers
It took me quite some time, and some complaining to finish this dense tome, but it was worth it. I really learned a great deal about the Great Depression and World War II. For such a text, it was very enjoyable to read. Kennedy is brilliant.
The book has been pretty insightful so far. I honestly learned more about the Hoover years from this book and now different people have viewed the causes of the Great Depression as from anything that I have ever read.
Unusual to find a series of books so strong. This is another hit in the outstanding Oxford History of the United States.
Being a history nut, this was, and is, one of my favorite sources of time specific information. Very easy read.
Mar 29, 2009 Olivia is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I'm on a mission to be taught something. This is like 800 pages, so check back with me in like 3 months.
Alan Tulppo
A great look at the United States during the Great Depression and World War II. This is not a light read!
Best of the Oxford History of the United States series that I've read so far.
Ron Willoughby
An excellent history of the US during the Great Depression and through World War II. Kennedy deals with everything from economics to politics to Labour vs Industry Giants to military, et al. Such a vast accounting that rarely lags. My only two criticisms are that Kennedy appears overly biased for Roosevelt and dramatically understates the resilience and impact of Jim Crow (imho). Otherwise, a brilliant book worth the investment of time to read. I highly recommend it for those who want insight in ...more
Justin Tapp
Freedom from Fear won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in history. It is a 900+ page tome that is essentially two books, The Depression and The War. I decided to read it as a comparison to Amity Schlaes' The Forgotten Man (my review).

As far as The Depression goes, Schlaes' treatment is much deeper and more detailed, including the 1920s context and the personal histories and travels to the USSR of FDR's "braintrust." Kennedy skips or glosses over certain crucial details of the New Deal that Schlae's empha
Mike Hankins
This book is part of a series of large-scale studies of major eras in American History. David Kennedy's ambitious goal is to provide a detailed narrative synthesis of the Great Depression and World War II. It's no wonder the book clock in at nearly 1000 pages, and is probably thick enough to stop a bullet. Nevertheless, its a very well written book that provides a great overview of the period, a wonderful reference for both students and teachers, as well as enthusiasts.

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