Shlaes also traces the mounting agony of the New Dealers themselves as they discovered their errors. She shows how both Presidents Hoover and Roosevelt failed to understand the prosperity of the 1920s and heaped massive burdens on the country that more than offset the benefit of New Deal programs.
The real question about the Depression, she argues, is not whether Roosevelt ended it with World War II. It is why the Depression lasted so long. From 1929 to 1940, federal intervention helped to make the Depression great, in part by forgetting the men and women who sought to help one another. The Forgotten Man, offers a new look at one of the most important periods in our history, allowing us to understand the strength of the American character today.
©2007 Amity Shlaes; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
"A thoughtful, even-tempered corrective to too often unbalanced celebrations of FDR and his administration's pathbreaking policies." (Publishers Weekly)
The book begins with great promise as it takes a new look at how FDR's policies did more to prolong the Great Depression than bring about recovery. However, it quickly gets lost among art collections, boat trips, government photography programs and the life stories of a cast of thousands that is impossible to follow in an audio book. I personally would have preferred a smaller cast and more focus on the economic principles that are all but glossed over. By the end, there are too many storylines to follow and they are not brought back together to form a coherent or satisfying conclusion.
... and hopefully "rewritten" by more objective eyes.
The history repeating itself right before our eyes can help us understand The Depression. The same ideologies and self-interested representations are again at work today
Today, Democrats try to ensure that the official history of our economic crisis says it was caused by Wall Street greed, the failure of capitalism and Bush economic policies. Future objective "rewrites" will include neglected inconvenient facts: Democrats refused to regulate the unintended consequences of their economically unsound "spread the wealth via affordable housing" policies.
The Depression was no different. Those Democrats were fascinated by and experimented with the same socialistic fascism promoted by Mussolini and Hitler - long before their extreme versions of fascism became malignant. Politicians asserted it was a failure of capitalism in order to justify a socialist "solution". Thereafter, the sanctioned history was written by the victors and those who still champion these ideals, proclaiming them successful, beyond reproach and "settled" through a consensus of everyone - except the "deniers".
Learning from the tragic history of our ancestors and noting the differences and, especially, dramatic parallels between the 1920-40s and 1990-2010's could help us navigate today's dangerous waters. However, our vision must be 20/20. We must ensure our official histories are free from ideological bias and political motivations.
This book shines a brighter light on this era, a "revision" long overdue. The personalities, ideologies, agendas and political history of the main characters (e.g., Mellon, Hoover, Roosevelt, the 1920's and 1930's...) are practically ripped right out of todays headlines.
Another excellent "rewrite" that'll give context for this era is "Liberal Fascism" - still actively at work in the 2008 Election.
I learned a lot about the Depression that I did not know.
Anyone who needs safe-zones should avoid this book. Then again, such people probably are clueless about the Great Depression and may not even know who FDR was, much less the two sides of the debate so ably described within these pages.
Like the great depression itself, the book labors along at times, but overall it is a solid and revealing portrait of the 20' s leading into and "through" that dark economic labyrinth providing the intellectual foundations of the New Dealers, their programs renamed and expanding upon Hoover's initiatives, and how Roosevelt changed American politics forever into group warfare. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Outstanding presentation of a time when America almost came under dictatorship. The country moved irrevocably down the path of progressivism and changed the character of Constitutional America. I enjoyed the honesty of the narrative without the whitewash of historical embellishment left over from the post depression era writers.
This well written story has many lessons to teach modern America. Throughly research and highly credible it left me with a much better understanding of FDR and the politics of his time. I learned a lot about things I thought I knew. I strongly recommend it to anyone interested in what is happening around them.
Just some dude.
Amity Shlaes brings those bad old times back to life as thought it were yesterday. She does not have much commentary in this book implied or un-implied as far as I was concerned. I't pretty straight down the middle. Of course the history has been edited by her and that would be a type of editorializing I suppose. I really enjoyed it. Made me think. Made me wish Bush and Oh,bummer would have read it.
The "Forgotten Man" is a valuable piece of revisionist history, and it has both the strengths and weaknesses common among works that attempt to recast history through the eyes of later generations. The greatest strength of the work is that it recasts focus on the people that did and still do largely control the fate of the American economy: the wealthy. The book makes it clear that the resistance of the wealthiest Americans fatally weakened the New Deal. Shale explains in chapter after chapter how the rich moved their investments off shore, filed suit, and lobbied against the New Deal on the radio stations and in the newspapers they owned. However, she never interprets this resistance as a series of selfish un-patriotic choices that only prolonged the nation's agony. Instead, for her the villains are the New Dealers who were concerned about the plight of the average American. Shale lays out a laundry list of failed and misguided New Deal programs and never gives any credit to FDR or his administration or to the New Deal programs that worked. Instead, the book is a one sided polemic against the New Deal. Shale never accounts for the incredible popularity of FDR and the New Deal programs that her heroes worked so hard to sabotage. She fails to mention that the resistance to the New Deal in the South that really started after 1936 was largely driven by fears that the New Deal would weaken Jim Crow and she does not make the connection between some of the successful projects, such as the TVA and Intercoastal Waterway, with the eventual American victory in World War II. If you are really familiar with the New Deal the "Forgotten Man" might be worth a read for a different perspective, but this should not be your introduction to the subject. In fact, among most of the over eighty set FDR is still a hero and I believe that they would disagree with Shale's view of the New Deal as a disaster.
Report Inappropriate Content
If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.