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The Great Depression: America 1929-1941
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The Great Depression: America 1929-1941

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  261 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
One of the classic studies of the Great Depression, featuring a new introduction by the author with insights into the economic crises of 1929 & today. In the 25 years since its publication, critics & scholars have praised historian Robert McElvaine's sweeping, authoritative history of the Great Depression as one of the best & most readable studies of the era. C ...more
Paperback, 448 pages
Published December 6th 1993 by Broadway Books (first published January 12th 1984)
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Josh Stewart
Feb 26, 2008 Josh Stewart rated it really liked it
A terrific look into the decade plus that made up the depression. Definetly gives one a feel for the dire situation that Americans faced during this time period. Also highlights the many factors that lead to the depression. A good read for those interested in politics and economics, it will enlarge your understanding of these two subjects.
Sara W
Jun 20, 2009 Sara W rated it it was ok
Due to the current economic crisis, I decided to give this book another try. What seemed boring a few years ago seems pretty damn relevant now!

Original Review: I did not finish this book. I was looking for a social history about the Great Depression and this was more of a political history, so I found it pretty boring. I much preferred The Worst Hard Time for a social history about the Great Depression.
Feb 08, 2009 Billy rated it liked it
Like Kennedy, sympathetic towards Hoover, but argues that Hoover’s failures led to the acceptance of later New Deal programs which broke with Hoover’s anti-government in business stance. Still, Hoover pioneered programs for business and agriculture relief, although in these forms the federal government did more organizing than intervening. McElvaine uses letters from ordinary Americans to show how much they supported Roosevelt. With the Great Depression came a new acceptance of cooperation betwe ...more
Erik Graff
Dec 07, 2015 Erik Graff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: history
I picked this up at the Evanston Public Library a week ago and read it prior to meeting with up with my former professor, political economist Dave Schweickart. It was a quick, easy, enjoyable, well worth the time even though David and I never got around to discussing the topic of the book, the depression of 1929-41.

'The Great Depression' was, like WWII, influential in my household growing up. All the grownups had lived through both, at least as children and, of course, with German occupation and
Oct 07, 2008 Ryan rated it it was amazing
This was a great history of the Great Depression. I've previously read the first two volumes of Arthur Schlesinger's famous "Age of Roosevelt" series, but found it hard to read and process. This book, however, served as an even better overview. It discussed not only the various programs FDR initiated as part of the New Deal (AAA, NRA, Social Security, the SEC, the Wagner Act, etc), but also how well they worked, and why. The author dives into popular literature and films of the era to build a na ...more
Gregory Blecha
Having just read "The Forgotten Man" by Amity Shlaes, and "The Great Depression" by Robert McElvaine, back-to-back, I have the opportunity to compare how both authors treat this complex topic.

What struck me is that Shlaes' approach seems to be "top-down" while McElvaine's approach is "bottom-up". McElvaine sprinkles into his text the correspondence from ordinary Americans to the Roosevelts; the language is rich, heartfelt, evocative, and infuses the text with a deep sense of melancholy. Shlaes
Tom Hill
Jan 22, 2013 Tom Hill rated it really liked it
This book is well written and very interesting. My only complaint is that the author is obviously a liberal democrat and all his analysis of the people and events of this time are filtered through this ideology. Liberal, or progressive is good, conservative is bad and the root of all evil. His admiration for FDR and distain for Ronald Reagan comes through loud and clear. Although he makes some good points, his lack of a balanced approach makes most of his conclusions less than convincing. He doe ...more
Oct 14, 2007 Samsung rated it it was amazing
Shelves: schooltext
gives excellent historical insight into economics, political cycles, and the time when people feared there'd be another Great Depression. Sound familiar?
Jerry Smith
Jan 28, 2016 Jerry Smith rated it liked it
Shelves: history, 2016-read
I've been meaning to read more history of the US for ever - probably something that I should continue to do for ever as well as there is always more to learn and different angles to examine. Looking at the Great Depression through the lens of 80 years or so is interesting, although it should be noted that this book was first published 25 years ago. As well as providing inherent interest in events passed, history has a lot to teach us, should we care to listen. Most of the time of course, we choo ...more
Nov 02, 2014 Matt rated it liked it
Interesting reading about the some of the causes of the depression, about the presidential administrations of the 20s, Roosevelt and his presidential campaigns. He builds an interesting picture of Roosevelt as a pragmatist, progressive, and a skilled politician.

Some interesting discussions on the various agencies, why they succeeded and why they failed, I found it particularly interesting to learn that most of them just went away at the end of the 30s with little fanfare. I found myself wanting
Luis Rivera
Jan 17, 2016 Luis Rivera rated it really liked it
The Great Depression
By: Robert S McElvaine

My experience with this book was very eye opening. This book takes you through the life of several people during the Great Depression. The book showed many perspective, including the person who barely suffered or were barely affected to the people that were the most affected by this time period. The wealthy people were the ones not much affected. What made this book interesting was the different point of views during this period of history depending on y
Sep 05, 2010 Lucky rated it really liked it
This book came out in the 80's, but it's still really relevant. It's kind of funny to hear him attack Reagan though. I see there's an updated version of it, which I'd like to check out.
Anyway, I thought this book presented a very thorough overview of the politics, social structures, and ideology of the times, as well as everything leading up to it. I found it very eye opening. There's no doubt that there was a certain wisdom and a collectivist attitude, which thrived at that time, which is so
Gene McAvoy
Sep 26, 2011 Gene McAvoy rated it it was ok
Is it possible to write a political history and remain un-biased? Maybe, but this book certainly isn't an example of one. It presents an excellent history of the Great Depression of 1929. Seems like a comprehensive look at Hoover and FDR but I suppose that in the 25th Anniversary the author felt it necessary to try and extend the effects of the Great D into more modern times. Now I'll grant that you can see the lingering effect into the current times but here is where the author's mind left the ...more
Jun 07, 2011 Megan rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Another, well thought out, meticulously researched people's history. I knew I'd be taken with McElvaine; he's no Geoffrey Perrett as far as poetic word-smithing goes, but then again not many are in my humble opinion. That's also not to say McElvaine is not eloquent, quite the contrary; his grasp on the origins and unraveling of the Great Depression are impressive and I am enjoying this read thoroughly; eager to read his other works, including "Down and Out in the Great Depression: Letters from t ...more
Glen Robinson
Jul 19, 2013 Glen Robinson rated it liked it
I purchased this book, thinking it would give me a glimpse into life during the Depression, something my parents had shared with me, but was relatively unfamiliar to me. What the book ended up being was an overview of the political and economic changes that went through the country, especially from the perspective of F.D.R. It is not light reading, but it it informative. In fact, as I understand it, it is considered the Bible related to what happened during the Depression, and its ramifications ...more
Stephanie Pounds
Dec 02, 2014 Stephanie Pounds rated it it was amazing
Shelves: your, library, favorites
I really, really liked this book. It took me quite awhile to make it all the way through because I kept underlining passages and making notes in the margins. I was looking for a book that would help me tell if there were parallels between now and the 1930s. Not only did this book help me do that, but because it was written in the 1980s, and McElvaine refers to the Reagan years a lot, it helped me put that time in historical perspective, too. Recommended!
Jan 29, 2012 Thomas rated it really liked it
Highly relevant to today's economy, this book, last edited in 1993, demonstrates the shocking ways in which history is capable of repeating itself. While I personally dislike overtly biased historical writing (which this certainly is), it is generally well-written (if a bit dry at times), and brings up interesting parallels with the Depression and our current society, almost anticipating our current financial woes and the responses of the people in power towards them.
Jul 09, 2015 Evan rated it really liked it
McElvaine has compiled a remarkable summary of 1929-1941. While heralded as unbiased, the author is notably collectivist and clearly anti capitalist. His writing is presumptive in declaring Ronald Reagan a failure, as this book was written in 1984. Nonetheless a fantastic read to give yourself valuable history lessons from our recent past
Apr 25, 2015 Colleen rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Enjoyed it, the letters throughout from "regular" people during the depression brought it alive. Particularly enjoyed the bits about depression era entertainment
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