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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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  • Overall

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

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 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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
  • Kenia
  • Miami, FL, USA
  • 02-15-08


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
  • Thomas
  • Plano, TX, USA
  • 10-28-08


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
  • 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
  • Performance
  • Story

Informative, well written

But it was a little tedious. It is non fiction and not supposed to read like a novel and I am ok with that. But I always find these kinds of books a little hard to follow. Luckily I had a hard copy of the book as well, which really helped me understand it. It contains lists of people in the book with very short bios, and also has an index which made it easy to reread parts about specific people or events.

I suppose I think that all Americans should understand their legacy which is the history of this great country. That is something I am trying to accomplish through reading books such as this one which recounts the decade of the Great Depression. Having been born a decade after the end of the Depression, I was vaguely familiar with so many of the names talked about in this book which were still being bantered about quite frequently

It is very well written and very informative. Shlaes seems to take a fair point of view concerning the things she writes about. I don't get a sense that she has an agenda or that she is taking one side against another, but is doing her best to present the facts fairly in the best way that she can. The whole point of the book is that all too often during the tumultuous decade of the '30s, the little man, the average man, the working man, was forgotten. I think this is still pretty much the way is today.

Terence Aselford is very nice narrator, just right for this book.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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

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

Slow start, solid finish

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful