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Soul of a People: The WPA Writers' Project Uncovers Depression America

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating details ·  73 ratings  ·  12 reviews
Soul of a People is about a handful of people who were on the Federal Writer's Project in the 1930s and a glimpse of America at a turning point. This particular handful of characters went from poverty to great things later, and included John Cheever, Ralph Ellison, Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, and Studs Terkel. In the 1930s they were all caught up in an effort to de ...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published February 1st 2009 by Wiley
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really liked it Average rating 4.00  · 
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May 23, 2009 rated it really liked it
History of Federal Writer's Project, and overview of the new deal era work relief project and more detailed discussion of several representative state projects. To accompany the documentary by the same name, to be shown on the Smithsonian Channel this September. ...more
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: american-history
Soul of a People gives a great, general overview of the WPA State Guide Writers' project, illustrated with local stories of the writers from several states. I found it engaging and well put together. ...more
Mar 20, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
Mar 02, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-2009
I'm leaving Goodreads. This review is now available on LibraryThing, user name CSRodgers. ...more
Feb 23, 2010 added it
This makes me want to read more Zora Neale Hurston and the WPA state guides.
Apr 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
I have really been delving into the WPA Writers Project and this book tells the story of the writers of the Project. Just started it...So far, really good...
meghan keedy
Jun 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
fascinating. i'm very interested in the WPA Projects. ...more
Mar 17, 2021 rated it it was ok
I was really excited about reading this book but am disappointed. I feel that there is alot of name dropping of various writers for the WPA and some tidbits of historical and societal accounts of peoples' lives. I was expecting chapters that shared with you life stories of people struggling through the depression.

I've read the first 60 pages, haven't given up yet but probably will. This could have been a great book but Taylor missed an opportunity to share the stories and give the book life.
Apr 29, 2009 rated it liked it
Odd--sort of the companion to a documentary, it tells the stories behind the stories of some of the WPA state guides. Sort of. Sometimes it just kind of retails some anecdotes and stops, as in California. Sometimes it's thematic. Sometimes not. Sometimes, as in Louisiana, where it details a pattern of censorship and surveillance, or Florida, where it discusses workers kept on plantations in near-medieval slavery, it's powerful and distressing. He finds an early Jim Thompson piece about the death ...more
Feb 18, 2015 rated it liked it
In the 1930s, the WPA employed over 6k writers to document life stories and develop State Guides for every state. Thousands of these stories and many state guides are available online. Fascinating stuff. This book provides a decent overview, mostly from the writer's point of view. Wish it had gone deeper into the FWP history or deeper into the stories but skimmed to surface of both focusing on some of the more prominent writers from the project. ...more
Jul 08, 2011 rated it liked it
The subject matter - the Federal Writers' Project, a key part of the most ambitious and audacious social history and arts project ever undertaken - really carries this book, but is undermined by the ordinary prose and questionable structure. Particularly disappointing is the account of the project's demise, which is presented almost in brief and without any of the grand importance and drama attributed to the project during its tenure and its subsequent impact on writing and society. ...more
Jan 08, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting book. During the Great Depression, the govt set up the WPA Writer's Project to create jobs and create guidebooks. This book discusses the writers who took on these job. This book is useful for offering suggestions on what to read. It is kind of a guide to the guides--very disjointed and sporadic. Good reference for further reading. ...more
Edward Sullivan
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Mar 23, 2009
Gary Phillips
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Aug 04, 2013
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Oct 16, 2009
David Taylor
Dec 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
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Soul of a People online book club discussion 1 1 Apr 16, 2013 11:58AM  

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