Mike (the Paladin)'s Reviews > The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression

The Forgotten Man by Amity Shlaes
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's review
Jan 29, 2014

really liked it
bookshelves: history

I encourage the reading of this book. When I was in school we all came away with a certain vision or narrative of/about the period known as "the Great Depression". It was a fairly simple view. FDR was the "hero" who led us through the depression and out the other end. Frankly I don't know what children/young people today come away with as I'm not that thrilled with what passes for education now. I doubt however it would be that different.

My parents and grandparents having lived through that era (as did my great grandparents and others I knew growing up) did not hold quite as monolithic an opinion as that...though my dad a "died in the wool" Democrat pretty much did. Being a reader from an early age I knew early on that the view I'd been taught was simplistic. I've recently come to the conclusion it was simply wrong.

This book admittedly can be a bit of a chore to read through at times as it builds on facts, quotes and documented evidence. It covers pretty much the entire period of the "Great Depression" looking at policies, programs, people, plans and events giving a fairly comprehensive view of that period, the people in it and the "New Deal" polices. I don't think today we realize how nation changing the laws enacted and the actions taken during that time were.

The only reason I give this book a 4 star rating instead of a 5 is that the ground it covers and the amount of information it throws makes it difficult to manage. Concentrate on it. See where it's going and where we as a nation have been. It's there.

The events here will at times sound very familiar to you if you follow the political and legal landscape in America. Roosevelt was a president who was beloved by the majority of the press corps. They did by-in-large line up behind and even offer cover for him. They attacked his opponents (and sadly there were few articulate opponents to be found). If you read this and compare the actions taken (and let me say that I know the majority of those actions were taken because the majority of the people supporting them wanted to make life better for the "forgotten men") changed America fundamentally from what it was, at least in some ways.

There's a quote in this book that reminded me of a quote I read elsewhere (and the author here did not point this out it was just something I remembered). There's a quote here from someone who was asked if they weren't "losing their liberty." They answered that if they were, "the liberty they were losing was the liberty to starve."

Have you read William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany ? In it there's a quote from a German worker after Hitler has taken power. He was asked if "they (the German people)hadn't lost their freedom." His answer? He said, "they were no longer free to starve."
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message 1: by Fayley (new)

Fayley Carroll Quigley (did I spell that right?) in Tragedy And Hope thinks that the great depression was a result of everyone trying to re-establish the gold standard after WW1. At school (in Australia) we didn't learn anything about the great depression. We did agrarian revolution, industrial revolution, WW2 and Australian colonial history. My kids do Australian history only (so far, but let's hope!)

Mike (the Paladin) America was still on the gold standard at that point, meaning that every U.S. dollar was backed by gold. Among other things FDR wanted was to inflate the currency (which happened later). In the U.S. the depression escalated into the Great Depression and really lasted till WW2. This happened to different extents in Europe and elsewhere, but you're right many other countries don't speak of the "Great" depression.

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