The Great Depression: America in the 1930s

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9780316924542: The Great Depression: America in the 1930s

The Great Depression of the 1930s turned the lives of ordinary Americans upside down, leaving an indelible mark on the nation's psyche. The Great Depression: America in the 1930s is award-winning historian T. H. Watkins's lively political, economic, and cultural account of this age of hardship and hope. This companion volume to the public television series The Great Depression tells the story of a decade of disaster, challenge, and change. It begins with the most devastating economic crash in modern history and recounts an epic narrative of human suffering, social turmoil, and a political revolution that transformed the outline of American life and government - from unprecedented federal programs such as Social Security, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and massive public works projects to local grass-roots movements whose energies helped forge a new relationship between citizens and their government, citizens and their presidents. During this great era a new kind of hope was born, one that would not only help lead the way out of the despair of the depression but would live on to inspire postwar crusades for civil rights, women's rights, environmentalism, and other social movements. Illustrated with more than 150 photographs, documents, and posters - many of them published here for the first time - The Great Depression stands as the essential chronicle of a decade that shaped America's consciousness and character forever in an age not unlike our own.

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About the Author:

T.H. Watkins was a well-known environmental writer and historian before his death in 2000. He was a recipient of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. At the time of his death he was Wallace Stegner Distinguished Professor of Western American Studies at Montana State University, and was posthumously awarded the Wallace Stegner Award by the CU-Boulder Center of the American West. He published 28 books and wrote over 300 articles for various publications including National Geographic, Audubon, Smithsonian, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.

From Kirkus Reviews:

A discerning, information-packed, and emotionally charged survey of America's crucible; by the author of the National Book Award-nominated Righteous Pilgrim (1990). As might be expected from a companion volume to an upcoming PBS series, the text is episodic and copiously illustrated. By themselves, the more than one hundred photographs and their long, illuminating captions do a fine job of conveying America's dark night. Many are the products of documentary and propaganda efforts by the Resettlement Administration and the Farm Security Administration--New Deal agencies that understood the power of the photograph to shape public opinion. Moving images of Hoovervilles, of the emaciated faces of migrant laborers and their families, and of the bloody conflicts of the union movement, Watkins explains, saturated the public consciousness and helped forge support for the New Deal. Reflecting these photographs by focusing on the human drama of the times, the author traces the era from the financial euphoria that led to the crash of 1929, and shows how the prevailing ethic of the upper classes--who were morally offended at the idea of ``handouts''--tied Hoover's hands long enough for FDR to be swept into office. But even with the ``alphabet soup'' of agencies created by Roosevelt's ``brain trust''--his first hundred days saw more legislation enacted than in any other period in our history--a rebound was a long time coming. Finally, Watkins makes clear, the struggle for economic relief--a struggle that included phenomena like the Bonus Army's march on Washington, the rising popularity of the Communist Party, and the fear of incipient class warfare--resulted in a new conception of government: government that would be a large and constant presence in American lives, promising a degree of security. Heartfelt and wide-ranging, and timely as well, as we continue to grapple with the nurturing sort of government put in place by FDR. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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