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Publisher's Summary

It's difficult today to imagine how America survived the Great Depression. Only through the stories of the common people who struggled during that era can we really understand how the nation endured. In The Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes offers a striking reinterpretation of the Great Depression. Rejecting the old emphasis on the New Deal, she turns to the neglected and moving stories of individual Americans, and shows how they helped establish the steadfast character we developed as a nation.

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

Critic Reviews

"A thoughtful, even-tempered corrective to too often unbalanced celebrations of FDR and his administration's pathbreaking policies." ( Publishers Weekly)

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What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

One of the Best Books On the Subject

This is absolutely one of the best books on the subject of the Great Depression. The depth that Ms. Shlaes go to in dealing with such subjects as the Schecters, and the personalities of the "brain-trust" and other details is superb.
I'm a former high school teacher and this is one of the books I recommend most often to my former students.

14 of 15 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

a story of forgotten times

This book really explains what happened in the Great Depression as individuals viewed what was happening.. this is a history that I did not get from any school I attended and I was a history major at an ivy league college.. a very interesting listen.. puts some flesh and bones on this period in our history.. strongly recommend this book.

39 of 47 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Kenia
  • Miami, FL, USA
  • 02-15-08

Incredible!

This is the history we SHOULD have learned, but didn't, in school.

This is the Great Depression as you've never seen it. Even though you know what is coming, you feel the stress and fear of an oncoming train wreck! And I could see many of the same things happening now. I couldn't put it down!

24 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Student of history

If you want to know what is coming to our country. Look to our past. When socialism was tried it did not work in the 1930's and made the depression even longer and deeper. This book was an EYE opener

32 of 39 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Thomas
  • Plano, TX, USA
  • 10-28-08

Timely

While some say this is revisionist history, many of the facts tell a different story. It shows why Capitalism is one of the few economic systems that truly works, whether we like it or not. The comments about "unpatriotic" weathly americans can apply to every person in America and what we all do. Most people are focused on themselves and therefore the economic system of a country needs to flourish when this happens. That is why Capitalism has been successful and why failed Socialistic economies like Russia have moved to it. In a broader sense, this book shows why redistribution of wealth does not work. This is an outstanding book at this time in history.

22 of 29 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Charles
  • Virginia Beach, VA, USA
  • 12-21-08

Informative Read

There were details about this time in history that you do not normally get to hear about. Easy to listen to and informative.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Antidote for Our Collective Amnesia

Ms Shlaes' 'Forgotten Man' is as forgotten today as back then, and in greater numbers than ever. Regrettably, fewer and fewer people are alive today to recall the great depression for the rest of us, and so this book is the best antidote to our collective amnesia.

The Forgotten Man is exceedingly fair and balanced, and to my mind neither political party comes off well, well-intentioned though they may have been.

Don't let those who snubbingly call the book "revisionist' fool you. It is history, plain and simple, only history that most Americans alive today neither recall nor wish to recall. The intellectual elite of the past are the same as those we have experimenting on us today. Only, back then they didn't have a great depression to learn from, making inexcusable the actions of today's brain trusts.

The numerous biographical sketches bring the times alive and making the book a double winner, both an excellent collection of fascinating biography as well as history.

I found the book a very quick listen, and now every headline I read in the paper, every piece of legislation that is passed, and all the exact same rhetoric we hear our leaders exhort takes on a whole new meaning.

12 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

So timely!

This is a must read for anyone who wishes to understand how government can ruin markets by misunderstanding how they work. The knee-jerk reaction of Washington to market correction is what make the great depression last so long and has put us on this trajectory of dependence and welfare! AWSOME BOOK that dispationaatly states the facts!

13 of 18 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Revisionist libertarian history

It’s hard to know where to start with this mess of a book. Ultimately it’s my fault for not researching the author before I started, but Shlaes uses the Great Depression as a venue to make a broader argument about the evils of government, taxation, and financial intervention. Her arguments eschew logic and use declarative bluster in place of supporting evidence and analysis. It’s poor history with laughably selective details. As a bonus, if you can call it that, the book has a terrible narrator to accompany this awful book. Avoid this book at all costs unless you like libertarian rantings read to you by a soulless narrator with absolutely zero inflection.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Misleading Title and Description

What disappointed you about The Forgotten Man?

It was not about the ordinary people and how they managed through the Great Depression. It was about political and economic leaders. I was expecting personal accounts from people who lived through the period, not a textbook-like description of grand political theories and the intellectuals who advanced them.

What could Amity Shlaes have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

I don't take issue with the author. I take issue with the misleading way the content of the book is described.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

I found his voice rather nasally. Not very engaging.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful