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Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945 | [David M. Kennedy]

Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929–1945

Between 1929 and 1945, two great travails were visited upon the American people: the Great Depression and World War II. This Pulitzer Prize–winning history tells the story of how Americans endured, and eventually prevailed, in the face of those unprecedented calamities. The Depression was both a disaster and an opportunity. As David Kennedy vividly demonstrates, the economic crisis of the 1930s was far more than a simple reaction to the alleged excesses of the 1920s.
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Publisher's Summary

Between 1929 and 1945, two great travails were visited upon the American people: the Great Depression and World War II. This Pulitzer Prize-winning history tells the story of how Americans endured, and eventually prevailed, in the face of those unprecedented calamities.

The Depression was both a disaster and an opportunity. As David Kennedy vividly demonstrates, the economic crisis of the 1930s was far more than a simple reaction to the alleged excesses of the 1920s. For more than a century before 1929, America's unbridled industrial revolution had gyrated through repeated boom-and-bust cycles, wastefully consuming capital and inflicting untold misery on city and countryside alike.

Freedom from Fear explores how the nation agonized over its role in World War II, how it fought the war, why the United States won, and why the consequences of victory were sometimes sweet, sometimes ironic. In a compelling narrative, Kennedy analyzes the determinants of American strategy, the painful choices faced by commanders and statesmen, and the agonies inflicted on the millions of ordinary Americans who were compelled to swallow their fears and face battle as best they could.

Both comprehensive and colorful, this account of the most convulsive period in American history, excepting only the Civil War, reveals a period that formed the crucible in which modern America was formed.

Please note: The individual volumes of the series have not been published in historical order. Freedom from Fear is number IX in The Oxford History of the United States.

Listen to more of the definitive Oxford History of the United States.

©1999 Oxford University Press, Inc. (P)2010 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

  • Pulitzer Prize, History, 2000

“An engrossing narrative of a momentous time.” (New York Times Book Review)

“This is the kind of book prizes are made for.” (Chicago Tribune)

“[Traces] the American people through three of the most important and widely written about epochs in the century…and provides us with consistently original and sometimes startling conclusions.” (Washington Post)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

4.2 (229 )
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4.2 (152 )
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Performance
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  •  
    GEORGE Waverly, OH, United States 03-05-13
    GEORGE Waverly, OH, United States 03-05-13 Member Since 2011

    Hobby- Military History Occupation- Retired Commander USN; Retired Director of Quality Assurance; Graduate Liberty University, Lynchburg VA; Residence-Waverly Ohio

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    "A Wide Ranging Summary for Specified Timeframe"

    I found this book very disappointing. As I just turned my interest to the happenings of this time frame I figured I could gain some insight into the causes of the problems that led to the depression, the actions taken and results of the actions. Rather I found a book that I would describe as covering subjects one mile wide and one inch deep. If you are just starting to take an interest into the events of the first half of the 20th century this may be a good book as it is in my opinion a good summary of the events including American involvement in WW2.

    If you are looking for more than a just summary, I would recommend that you plan on reading a number of additional book for a clear understanding of this timeframe.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    jtkubs 05-30-15
    jtkubs 05-30-15
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    "Powerful insights"

    Kennedy' well-researched work on the American people from onset of the Great Depression through the end of World War II provides uniquely powerful insights into who we are as a nation. The saga reveals the multitude of powerful political forces resident in American society as they interacted over the course of arguably the most formative national experience since the Civil War. A must read for anyone serious about understanding modern America.

    My only critical comment is Kennedy's excessive use of metaphors. His attempt to creatively communicate complex ideas with extended metaphors bordered on comical at times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 09-26-14
    John 09-26-14 Member Since 2014
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    "Obvious Pulitzer Prize winner"

    I read a fair bit of military history. This book, while much more than that, is a great concise history of WWII. Most interestingly, the author gets into the motivations of the military leaders and it comes across excellently. There is some bias, but that is a minor distraction.

    I would recommend this book to any history buff, military history buff, and anyone just interested that period of time in US history. The political science is also very interesting.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elizabeth 03-28-14
    Elizabeth 03-28-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Informative!"
    Would you listen to Freedom from Fear again? Why?

    Definitely! It covers a time period that had much turmoil for America and ultimately after WWII American way of life changed dramatically.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The honesty.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Waykuy 12-07-12
    Waykuy 12-07-12 Member Since 2012

    kas7946

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    "Well Worth the Listen"
    What made the experience of listening to Freedom from Fear the most enjoyable?

    A well written, well read, unbiased, unvarnished history of the period.


    What did you like best about this story?

    I am currently interested in the WWII era and this book covers it well.


    What does Tom Weiner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    He doesn't just read the book he adds the necessary emphasis without adding a bias.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The ruthlessness of the Japanese was particularly interesting.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Mettler Seattle, WA USA 10-30-12
    John Mettler Seattle, WA USA 10-30-12 Member Since 2012

    I have a primary love of music and pretty much an insatiable curiosity of history, art, science, current affairs, and all things bicycling.

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    "Freedom from Fear"

    A very through and comprehensive rendering of this turbulent period in the history of America. There was so much going on during this 15 year period that it is easy to loose the forest while looking at the individual trees. Mr Kennedy keeps the narrative moving without falling into the trap of to much detail. Two items that I take issue with are the treatment of Japanese Americans post Pearl Harbor and the length of time spent on WWII. Mr Kennedy doesn't even mention the interment of Japanese American citizens in internment camps nor the role that the army battalions of these volunteers played in WWII (442 the most decorated battalion in the army and the role that japanese speaking intelligence officers played). The role of Native Americans played in the pacific theater (wind talkers). Other than that this is a great over view of this period.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Debra Twin Bridges, MT, United States 06-02-12
    Debra Twin Bridges, MT, United States 06-02-12 Member Since 2013

    Mom, married, website designer, portfolio manager in self-imposed exile (yeah Greg Smith!!), former California native, Episcopalian.

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    "Big book for a big history"

    I have enjoyed many novels set in this period (1929-1945) plus a university class on the period, Having earned a Pulitzer for this work, I figured it would be worth investing the time (32 hours!) and it has been. I've taken a couple breaks to listen to lighter material but keep coming back for another 8-10 hour stint with this history. I think the author was very even-handed with his praise and criticism of the major players of the period. Kennedy is a terrific writer and researcher.

    It's important to have a solid understanding of this period of our history as we deal with the ongoing problems.facing of our economy and government. Before listening to the history twisters on the left or right, check out this book for an unprejudiced account of what happened and why.

    (I gave the narrator a less than 5 star rating because he speaks too quickly in the early hours of the book. I repeatedly needed to skip back and listen again. This may have been the responsibility of the director.)

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    DB PA, USA 02-25-13
    DB PA, USA 02-25-13 Member Since 2008

    Knuk

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    "Like listening to a monotone university lecturer."
    Would you try another book from David M. Kennedy and/or Tom Weiner?

    Lots of good info if you think you can stay awake for it.

    I typically love this stuff, but...wow...what a bore.


    What didn’t you like about Tom Weiner’s performance?

    A robot could have done as well.


    Was Freedom from Fear worth the listening time?

    Not really. I couldn't finish it.


    2 of 5 people found this review helpful
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    cathy 09-02-11
    cathy 09-02-11 Member Since 2014
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    "Guaranteed to make you fall asleep"

    We have listened to many, many audio books and this is THE worst narrator ever. Terrific, well written book on a fascinating subject but it was painful to listen to. His monotone, unvaried speech sounded like it was a digitally produced fake voice (and a bad one at that) BUT enjoyed the content very much.

    1 of 3 people found this review helpful
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    PJ 05-18-13
    PJ 05-18-13
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    "No real information about the people"

    This was really about American politicians. My husband and I, who love this period of American history, found this book to be dreary and dragging. The book was all about the economics and politics with very little about what the American people went through and did. The narration contributed to our lack of interest in this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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