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

4.14  ·  Rating Details ·  3,792 Ratings  ·  128 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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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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William1
Mar 24, 2011 William1 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 20-ce, history, ww-ii
Notes
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
...more
Max
May 29, 2015 Max rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history
Kennedy’s excellent summary of the Great Depression, the New Deal and WWII covers so much that its 850 pages are barely sufficient. Kennedy’s recounting of WWII is primarily useful for someone looking for a concise overview. My notes here focus on the depression and attempts at economic recovery finding it relevant to today’s discourse regarding the financial crisis of 2008 and the struggle to return to full employment and robust growth.

As America approached the end of the 1920’s, many contribu
...more
Matt
Apr 19, 2009 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
rmn
Aug 20, 2009 rmn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 01, 2012 Jeremy Perron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jay Roberts
Aug 09, 2011 Jay Roberts rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Billy
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
...more
Sam
Mar 03, 2013 Sam rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
...more
Robert Morrow
Jan 30, 2011 Robert Morrow rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Joseph Stieb
Read this when I realized I knew basically jack squat about the Depression and the New Deal. Kennedy's segment of the Oxford History of the US is incredibly in depth but pretty easy to follow. Like most of the Oxford histories, it's pretty top down history, but you get a great sense for the reasons behind choices and policies made by the leaders of this definitive time period. Most of the Oxford histories claim to be about decisive times in American history, but these 16 years were close to exce ...more
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
Jan 22, 2008 Justin Collings rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Pete
Mar 14, 2010 Pete rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Kelley
Mar 27, 2008 Kelley rated it it was amazing  ·  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
...more
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
Tim
Mar 20, 2009 Tim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Ryan
Mar 27, 2010 Ryan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Emmy
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"
Steph
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.
Rob
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.
Barbara
Oct 02, 2008 Barbara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Shannon
Jun 03, 2008 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Olivia
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.
Chris
Mar 16, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: us-20th-century
Unusual to find a series of books so strong. This is another hit in the outstanding Oxford History of the United States.
Alan Tulppo
Apr 04, 2010 Alan Tulppo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great look at the United States during the Great Depression and World War II. This is not a light read!
Berchele
Feb 21, 2009 Berchele rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Being a history nut, this was, and is, one of my favorite sources of time specific information. Very easy read.
Nate
Dec 03, 2008 Nate rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, favorites
Best of the Oxford History of the United States series that I've read so far.
Martha Wright
Jan 27, 2017 Martha Wright rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you are interested in this era of American history, this is a well-written, informative and interesting read. I love history but am often caught between wanting to read historical fiction because it keeps my interest and straight history because it can be boring. Kennedy's book solved this problem with excellent writing that kept me engaged throughout.
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.

The first half of the book
...more
Chris
Feb 15, 2015 Chris rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
Kennedy, David M., Freedom From Fear: The American People in the Depression and War, 1929-1945, New York, Oxford University Press: 1999 In Freedom From Fear, David M. Kennedy outlines the events that create a fundamental shift in American ideology through the Great Depression and World War II eras. Thematically divided between these two connected eras, Freedom From Fear examines reform measures in both eras to illustrate the shift in American philosophy from a Laissez Faire and isolationist ment ...more
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FDR deception of voters 1 1 May 12, 2016 05:20AM  
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David Michael Kennedy is an American Pulitzer Prize-winning historian specializing in American history. He is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History Emeritus at Stanford University[1] and the Director of the Bill Lane Center for the American West. Professor Kennedy's scholarship is notable for its integration of economic analysis and cultural analysis with social history and political histor ...more
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“. and a knell rang in the ears of the victors, even in their hour of triumph. —Winston Churchill, 1927” 0 likes
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