The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression
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In The Forgotten Man, Amity Shlaes, one of the nation's most-respected economic commentators, offers a striking reinterpretation of the Great Depression. She traces the mounting agony of the New Dealers and the moving stories of individual citizens who through their brave perseverance helped establish the steadfast character we recognize as American today.

Customer Reviews:

  • The Forgotten Man
    I think that everyone in the work force should read this to get an idea of what happened during the 1930's and then see how we are making the same mistakes....more info
  • should be a `must read' in America's schools
    Hide the truth! That was core and essence of the FDR admnistration. 'Keep them off balance' so they'll never know what you're really up to. Even today, liberalism has to steep their agenda with lies and use tricks and gimmicks to promote their sickness which oddly enough parallels the `denial' of alcoholism. I would not be surprised if FDR himself was an alkie.
    Amity Shlaes boldly flies truth in the face of modern socialism. Nice shot!...more info
  • Recession-Proof Reading
    Although *The Forgotten Man* was first published in 2007, it is very apropos of the moment we are now living in. For that alone it is worthwhile reading. But what's really great about it is how Amity Shlaes brings the people, and indeed the whole era, so vividly to life. She gets you involved with what was going on and shows what was tried and did/didn't work to get the economy under control. The book is very readable, not dry in the least, but intelligently written and obviously well researched. If you have a basic (or even just a vague) knowledge of the Great Depression, you will be happy you bought this book as it will give you a whole new view and a very enjoyable read. Highly recommended....more info
  • History Explains Today
    For any history buff or anyone that would like an easy education of the political periods from the beginning of the 20th century or referal of the late 1800's this is a great learning tool. right up to what makes this country
    what it is today regarding politics.
    The large print makes it even more a good read for all ages. I believe it should be a required book in all colleges and even in high schools around the country. It is exciting to see connections of families still in the political spectrum. the entanglements that caused our history to develop as it has, our foundation given reason why the Constitution must never be altered in any way....more info
  • This Book is a MUST READ for our current ecomic state!
    This book should be read by everyone who votes in this country. The march toward socialism in the 1930's prolonged the depression by ten years. As our current government marches toward socialism they are making the same mistakes made by Rosevelt! Remember, "Those who do not study history are destined to repeat it"!...more info
  • The Finest Book on the New Deal!
    This is by far the finest book I've read on the New Deal and its actual impact on the Great Depression. Amity Shlaes delivers a very fair and balanced read - giving credit where it is due to Roosevelt. However, Shlaes shines in her objectivity and presentation of facts regarding the New Deal, smashing the many myths surrounding the growth of the federal government in the 1930's. While the New Deal had its advantages, it largely failed in its every objective to stimulate the economy, create long-term jobs and improve both Main Street and Wall Street. In fact, what it truly managed to do was stifle the growth of businesses. Many countries around the globe, who all suffered the initial sting of the Depression, managed to climb out of the depression within only a few years. In the United States in 1937, nine years after the crash of 1929, the jobless rate was worse than ever. The New Deal did not solve these problems. In fact, Wall Street did not manage to make it back to 1929 levels until the mid-1950's.

    In this new era of depression-like economics and big government "stimulus" spending, it is imperative that the myths of the Great Depression and the New Deal are smashed. Government spending is not the only answer, and is likely to fail, as was demonstrated in the 1930's. Only this morning I heard Senator Chuck Schumer from the State of New York plainly state that President Hoover ran on a policy of small government, and letting big business handle the economy. This is utter nonsense! As Shlaes properly documents, Hoover was a believer in big government plans and spending long before Roosevelt. As a Republican, he completely separated himself from Coolidge. Hoover failed, and subsequently so did Roosevelt's New Deal. Today, we repeat ourselves. The previous Republican administration under George W. Bush opened the new era of government spending with TARP I. Now, Obama takes the reigns with even bigger New-Deal-Like spending. We should learn our lessons, but seldom do....more info
  • "The Forgotten Man"
    Great read at a time when every American really needs to understand what is going on and what happened in the past. This book really straightened out some misinformation I had learned about Hoover, FDR, the "New Deal", and the "Great Depression". The book is written very well. Even though the subject is very serious, it is exciting reading....more info
  • Never Really Gets to the Point
    I think, and this is to some extent based on the last 4 paragraphs of the book, that the thesis of "The Forgotten Man" was that the true forgotten man during the depression was the liberal ideal of the individual who produces all of the true "output" of this country. Indeed, it is possible that there was no thesis here, and that this was just a chronological narrative meandering through the 1930s. There are interesting facts here, but so many of them, and so poorly strung together, that I am sure I will have forgotten most of them by the time I finish this sentence. Indeed, I suspect that the reason for the afterward to the paperback edition is the fact that Shlaes realized that, in following 35 characters over an entire decade, she had never really gotten to her point.

    I cannot, for the life of me, understand why Bill Wilson appears in this book. Was he the forgotten man? A ne'er do well alcoholic who finds himself during the depression? Up until he published the "Big Book" he seemed more forgettable than forgotten.

    The presence of Willkie makes the book more interesting but it feels as though the time spent turning him from cautious New Deal supporter to its foe was detailed to the detriment of explaining how his platform differed from that of Roosevelt during the 1939 election.

    The merit of this book is that it portrays the New Deal as a peripatetic effort that had no real guiding principal other than getting FDR re-elected. But I almost felt as though Shlaes was proving her point by making her own thinking muddled by a thousand little facts that never seemeed to coalesce into one coherent thought.

    I went into this book wanting to understand more about the Great Depression and the New Deal so that I had a better understanding of what Obama et al. are going to drag this country through. I think I gained some insight, but all in all, this book just left me thirsting for something more coherent and authoritative. ...more info
  • A timely message
    This book is a timely lesson on what happens when we let government take over our economy. There are history lessons for our present circumstances. Too much revisionist history is absorbed as fact and we make heroes of those in power who have done much damage to our country. Let's learn and protect our freedom! It is an obligation to our children and grandchildren....more info
  • clearly biased and unqualified to comment on the subject matter
    author is clearly biased and unqualified enough on subject matter. this almost sounds like a propaganda.

    all she said. who believed in what. instead of who did what. now how on earth would she know what these people thought what. was she a worm in their brain? a good factual and unbiased book would say what someone has done. instead of so full of what someone "believed" what.

    just listen to her first 2 chapters was enough. and she couldnt interview them could she. they are all dead. how convinenient. she didnt even quote letters or review from newspaper for example.

    just loads of bull this book. yes, one of the worst i have come across.

    if i could. she gets 0 star from me
    btw i didnt buy the book. i just borrowed it. luckily.
    ...more info
  • A fairly modest critique of the New Deal
    This book is a decent start for someone just starting to realize that the official received narrative of the Great Depression (ie, It was caused by laissez-faire economics, Hoover's staunch laissez-faireism made it worse, FDR's interventionist policies saved the country and made it a better place) is false and is the result of the earliest histories of the era having been written by partisan "court historians" (those who were enamored of FDR and, often times, had even worked for him in the New Deal years. Hardly unbiased sources, of course.)

    However, THE FORGOTTEN MAN is really a fairly moderate critique of the received narrative and of Hoover and FDR's interventionist responses. (Yes, your high school history text wasn't being straight with you when it told you that Hoover was a strict free marketeer -- far from it. He was probably the most interventionist president we had had up till that point, though obviously FDR drastically upped the interventionist ante.)

    I gave FORGOTTEN MAN three stars because it doesn't go far enough in its revisionism, it waters certain things down, and, worst of all for a book whose ostensible chief virtue is its readable, accessible, popular style, the narrative bogs down somewhere near the middle of the book and doesn't pick up again till near the end. I think part of that is due to the book's revisionism being so moderate -- this leads to a loss of focus. It doesn't have the razor-sharpness of more radical accounts. The perpsective of analysis in FORGOTTEN MAN is primarily the monetarist school, and as such it makes a decent starting point in getting a real education about the Depression (which naturally has lots of parallels to our current economic situation.) But just a starting point.

    The monetarist-derived analysis has some flaws -- it fails to explain everything about the economics of the era adequately, and to get a complete picture I'd recommmend also some more radically free market and revisionist books such as Murray Rothbard's AMERICA'S GREAT DEPRESSION, Jim Powell's FDR'S FOLLY, and Burton Folsom's new release, NEW DEAL OR RAW DEAL?

    By the way, President Obama's recent statement at his first press conference that he thought our understanding of the Depression and the New Deal had been "settled a long time ago" in favor of FDR's policies reveals that our new president is dangerously ignorant and arrogant on the topics of economics and history, considering how many top historians and economists (including at least 1 Nobel winner that I'm aware of) have busted the court historians' myths about the era. When Obama and his handlers intimate that they want to create a "New New Deal," those of us with genuine historical and economic knowledge cringe and brace ourselves for things to get worse rather than better. Santayana famously said "Those who forget the past are destined to repeat," but I personally prefer an old Russian proverb, which is even more cynical and accurate: "The only thing we learn from history is that we don't learn from history."...more info
  • Learn from history or be doomed to make the same mistakes
    I felt it was important to revisit the Great Depression era of American history, as the mainstream media was comparing the current administration's situation to that of FDR's as he took office in 1932.

    The author, Amity Shlaes, presents a socio/economic/historical view of the period, covering roughly the time frame from 1927 through 1939.

    Not being an economic wizard, I have found it a slow read, going back to certain passages to try to comprehend the feeling of the times. As a result, I am only halfway through the book as of this writing. I find it very enlightening.

    Ms. Shlaes is a talented writer. She presents a difficult subject (for me) in such a way as to allow me to "time travel" to that period for a glimpse of what was really going on in America.

    If you have ever had an independent thought, and are concerned about what is happening in our country today, I strongly suggest you read this book. Remember, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it....more info
  • fdr
    If you change tha names from fdr to bho it looks like a pregview of the same socialism that we are experiencing today....more info
  • A Great History Resource
    Amity Shlaes give an excellent history of the Depression from many different angles. I found the information at the beginning extremely helpful in understanding just how robust the economy of the United States was prior to 1929. She also gives excellent political biographies of FDR, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover that shows how each one handled the economy and why. I also found her chapter dealing with the influence of the fledgling Soviet Union on American academics and how these academics influenced the 1930's. Mrs. Shlaes also makes a great case in how protectionism and deflation made things much worse. In reading this, I came to understand how FDR allowed academics with little business experience to influence policy. School textbooks give much of the credit to John Maynard Keynes' theories for sustaining America during the 30's, but in fact The Forgotten Man gives evidence to the contrary. You will definitely learn a lot from this resource on the Depression. It will also help you see how we may be making the same mistakes now during this economic downturn....more info
  • The Anti-Keynesian Great Depression Book
    Now that the economy has basically taken a nosedive, reading about the Great Depression was both enlightening, and, well, depressing. Amity Shale's new work on the era, which lasted from 1929 to 1940, tackles the subject from a different historical perspective: it's an economic history, rather than just a history of times, dates, and people.

    Before you become instantly comatose at the thought of history paired up with economics--rightfully called "the dismal science"--it's not boring. The narrative follows the paths of several main characters. Some are well known and obligatory, like Franklin Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover. Others are less well known: young New Dealers like Rex Tugwell and Harold Ickes, eventual FDR opponent and power company executive Wendell Willkie, and even odd flamboyants like the black New York evangelist Father Divine.

    Shales' supposed Forgotten Man harkens back to the original provenance of the term--the forgotten taxpayer. Shales states in the introduction that this is to be the focus of her work. However, I felt that her Forgotten Man actually gets forgotten farily soon in the work. The story is not particularly told from that perspective, although the reader is treated to the viewpoint from figures like Willkie and former Secretary of the Treasurer and millionaire Andrew Mellon.

    The book is mostly a critique of the New Deal and Roosevelt's programs. Specifically, Shales asks why the Depression lasted so long, and why, after 7 years of the New Deal, did it ultimately take World War II to pull us out of it. It's an interesting diversion from "the New Deal saved America" viewpoint.

    Shales' point, made explicitly in the afterward, is that the New Deal simply didn't work. As a former writer for publications such as The Wall Street Journal and the National Review, it's hardly surprising that she wouldn't be a fan of FDR's Keynesian economics. She makes her strongest arguments--probably a winner--that the Depression worsened under both Hoover and to a lesser degree FDR because neither they, nor the relatively new Federal Reserve, had a good understanding of money policy and basically took every wrong step possible with regard to it. Some of FDR's biggest programs, the National Recovery Administration (NRA) and Agricultural Adjustment Administration (AAA), on top of being unconstitutional, really didn't work well.

    The entire New Deal doesn't come under attack, but most of it does, including programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA). Shales claim that they didn't do much for the country may hold in Manhattan, but through most of rural America, the CCC and WPA worked wonders, building schools, libraries, parks, courthouses and other municipal buildings, telephone and electric lines, roads, bridges, and other infrastructure that brought those areas fully into the 20th century. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) comes in for close scrutiny, but history has borne witness to its success. Plus, in FDR's defense, the Depression had been going for nearly 4 years before he had a chance to do anything; maybe things were simply too far gone by that point.

    FDR isn't bashed here, but critiqued, and not he alone: Hoover, and at long last, Calvin Coolidge, come in for criticism as well. Coolidge, especially, should be considered the father of the Republican viewpoint on how government should (or more accurately, should not) manage the economy. Hoover may have failed on his own, but Coolidge--who never liked Hoover--left him in position to hold the bag.

    Shales' anti-Keynesian viewpoint, in my opinion, doesn't hold as well as her critiques of FDR's constant experimentation, although her points about monetary policy were great. Keynes believed that you could manage an economy through taxes and government spending--a viewpoint shared by the Obama administration. A counterpoint to Shales' thesis is that spending only got high enough to stimulate the economy out of the Depression after the government began major military investments, a point perhaps illustrated in remilitarization in Germany as well as the United States. So perhaps Keynes is right after all.

    At any rate, Shales is a good read, and the topic couldn't be more relevant. For a great look at the historical basis for the economic debates we're having now, give this one a look.

    ...more info
  • History Repeats Itself
    This book is so fitting considering the events that have occured in our economy lately. The book gives you a different perspective on a Depression that the average American really understands so little about....more info
  • Tinely Reading
    An easy, enjoyable, eye opening read. Very pertinant for the current economic environment. I highly recommend the book. ...more info
  • The Forgotten Man
    An excellent book of an interesting time, and the whys and hows of of why today is the way it is. ...more info
  • Leave your ideology at the door, please.
    Amity Shlaes's author bio notes that she's been published, among other places, in the New Yorker and the National Review. Probably she's one of the few who can claim that; and when you delve into her deftly done "The Forgotten Man," you'll quickly see how she could have brought that feat off. Assertive but not didactic, fair but critical when she has to be, she spins out what can probably best be described as a Libertarian version of the story of the Great Depression, featuring vignette and anecdote, and avoiding dry narrative history. The result is a compelling look back at a time most of us have trouble imagining, a time when several of "the several states" actually created their own scrip to replace the deflated, virtually useless dollar.

    As the author riffs through the era (she begins in 1927 and ends in 1940), she devotes each chapter to a specific topic, although without skipping around in time. Among the highlights for me were her description of the time some left-wingers, many of whom would end up in FDR's cabinet or his "Brain Trust," sailed the Atlantic to visit Stalin's USSR, and were thrilled to have met the dictator; how the Supreme Court unanimously overturned the NRA (National Recovery Act) in a suit brought by four kosher chicken merchants from Brooklyn; and the apprehension of indicted entrepreneur Samuel Insull, who had fled to Turkey after an escape from . . . oh, but that would be telling. The efforts of Hoover's treasury secretary, Andrew Mellon, to present the nation with a national art gallery fascinate, too. Ms. Shlaes, naturally enough, also spends time describing FDR's financial experiments and his technique of playing his advisers off each other.

    The forgotten man of the the title, as explained in the quotation in the book's headnote, is "C," the taxpayer, who is dragged into the fray however reluctantly when "A" and "B" attempt to come to the aid of "X." As you will see, though, FDR (as had Hoover) was thinking of "X" when he referred to the forgotten man. Ms. Shlaes, of course, begs to differ.

    And maybe she has a more specific forgotten man in mind too. That would be entrepreneur Wendell Willkie, to whom the author gives major props. Once renowned, he's now pretty much remembered, if at all, as the unsuccessful GOP presidential nominee in 1940. You'll probably think after you finish the book he deserved a better fate than to have wound up as an answer to a trivia question. He gets one here.

    Warning for ideologues: FDR takes some lumps, although no doubt his reputation will survive the author's skeptical (but far from bashing) analysis, and she's no kinder to Hoover....more info
  • History Repeats
    Very well researched and written without the excessive uses of statistics that often accompany reviews of the great depression. A balanced review of the few success and the many failures of the New Deal. The parallels with the current Obama administration with it's anti-business and redistribution policies is striking....more info
  • The Obama Model
    Read this and you'll see most of what's being done over again from the Great Depression. Read Atlas Shrugged and you will see the rest....more info
  • Warning: The New Deal is Back!
    Everyone should read this to understand how Obama and his mentors are following FDR's plan to take us farther down the road to socialism than FDR could ever have dreamed. Americans have not yet realized that the New Deal was a failure and are blindly following this new mesiah to destroy the basic frabric of the United States. This book is a blueprint for what is yet to come....more info
  • Couldn't Do It
    I tryed to read this book but its not my cup of tea, not even close. I'm really into how Obama is screwing up this country so i figured this book would be great. Bought this book after seeing Glenn Beck talk about it. Maybe i'll try again in a few years, theres alot to process and if it doesnt all soak in you may be like me and not pick it up again. It is a great book its just a bit over my head still. I tryed reading this at work which might have been my biggest problem, this is the kind of book you need to try to read in a few days without any distractions. A+ book... just too much for me....more info
  • Loved it
    I read this book off of a recommendation from a national radio personality. I would say it was worth the time and effort to read it. The author's wording made it hard for me to follow - but I motored through it.

    I would recommend it to others. It is not a weekend leisure read - but worth the effort to read and follow....more info
  • The pendulum swings
    A very well written book about the times during the 1930. Puts things in perspective, especially during our own depression.

    It is interesting to contrast the power that FDR welded during this time. As compared to the days of George Washington and Andrew Jackson, the amount of power in the federal government can be considered frightful. And, yet again, with changes in the economy, the pendulum swings again to a protectionist government.

    I especially appreciate the "Cast of Characters," "timeline," "Coda," and the extensive Index, which is helpful to keep all the characters straight. The book is also a reason for investment in a Kindle, to quickly take a deeper look into all the historical characters mentioned.


    __________________________________________________________________________

    The Forgotten Man - A new History of the Great Depression
    Amity Shlaes

    Fed is created in 1913
    Herbert Clark Hoover - President 1929-1933
    Market Crash 1929
    Franklin Delano Roosevelt - President 1933-1944
    Securities Act 1933 Roosevelt Stocks & bonds require to file with Federal trade Commission
    1934 Securities and Exchange Act, establishing the Securities and Exchange Commission
    1935, July 5: Wagner Act - National Labor Relations Board, which ensure the right to collective bargaining and unions
    1935, August 14 Social Security act
    Aug 30 - Revenue act- Estate and gift taxes, dividend taxes
    1934, July 7 - Marco Polo Bridge, near Beijing - Start of Sino-Japanese war
    1934, December - Rape of Nanking
    1938, June 25 - Fair Labor Standards Act: minimum wage and maximum work hours
    1940, Sept 27: Germany, Japan and Italy enters Axis Pact
    Nov 5: FDR wins 3rd term

    Crash did not cause the depression. Necessary correction of a too-high stock market.
    * Loss of international trade due to tariffs and collapse of Europe
    * Challenge of change to industrialization from agriculture
    * Dust bowl

    1. The Beneficent Hand: Jan 1927: Unemployment: 3.3% DOW: 155
    Hoover, born 1874 - orphan Coolidge
    Fly fisherman Worms
    Microphone, love publicity Shy: landslide in 1924, clerk read this state of the union address
    Mining engineer, paleontology, chemistry Country lawyer
    Worldly American Pure new Englander
    Government help business do better Adam smith invisible hand. Like Mellonn
    Intervener, distrust of wall street Do no harm
    Hoover Dam: Colorado 1924 Coolidge dam: Arizona
    Started politics late 35 Started at 28

    Harding died suddenly Aug 1923 - Coolidge VP

    Mid-1920's the business was focus:
    Henry Ford: 6,000 cars in 1923
    Thomas Edison: Not only changed the conditions under which men live, but also helped to bring about a new social order
    British-born Sam Insull, originally Edison bookkeeper:
    Finance leaders: Henry Morgenthau Sr; Felix Warburg, Bernard Baruch; JP Morgan

    Wendell Willkie, Corporate lawyer for Firestone
    Andrew Mellon, treasury secretary, friends with Henry Clay Frick, president of Carnegie Steel
    Built a business empire: Bank, steel, aluminum, Bethlehem steel, spindletop, Texas oil, railway, construction and insurance, invest in new innovation - Find a man who can run a business and needs capital to start or expand, Furnish the capital and take shares in the business, leaving the other man to run it except when he is in trouble. When the business has growth sufficiently to pay back the money, take the money and find another man running a business and need of money and give it to him, on the same basis.
    Invest in the private sector, do not intervene too much, wait silently, and the returns would be all the greater.
    Benjamin Franklin: the way to wealth, if you desire it, is as plain as the way to market, it depends chiefly on 2 words, industry and frugality. That is, waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both.
    Father Divine-Salvation of Blacks was through the gospel of plenty
    1924 Coolidge Dam in Arizona
    Hoover Dam on Colorado River

    2 The Junket: July 1927 Unemployment 3.3% DOW 168

    July 1927 the President Roosevelt (after Theodore) headed to Soviet Union: Non-Communist, unofficial American trade union delegation. Joseph Stalin welcomes guests to win over American labor & help him to get loans for the government.
    Prof. Rexford Guy Tugwell
    John Bartlet Brebner
    Stuart Chase, CPA and economic commentator & F.J. Schlink created the Consumer Reports
    Paul Douglas
    George Counts
    1922-Sinclair Lewis Babbitt: Is NOT urban, bohemian, anti-money, idealist
    1929 Systemization exportation to Gulag

    3 the accident: October 1929 Unemployment 5% DOW 343

    Dow doubles from 1907 after 20 years. But, doubles in 2 years from 1927 to 1929
    Concern over inflation. Fed sells bonds to soak up money to offset monetary expansion.
    Hoover moves to affect the economy.
    11/19/29: RR asked to continue construction
    11/21/29: treasury secretary Mellon: Henry Ford; Julius Rosenwald (Sears); Pierre Du Pont; Alfred Sloan Jr (GM); Julius Barnes (Chairmen of the board of the US Chamber of Commerce): reduce hours, but keep wages high and employment up.
    All public works to continue.
    4/15/29: Agricultural tariff: All economists against: June 30, 1930 Smoot-Hawley provoked retaliatory protectionist actions by nations all over the globe.
    Young Bank of United States: 12/11/30: 500 thousand depositors-small laborers. Leads to concern of other banks

    4 the hour of the vallar: Sept 1931 Unemployment 17.4% DOW 140


    1931 William Trufant Foster: "When business begins to look rotten, more public spending."
    Inflation taxes savers. Deflation taxes risk takers and punishes leveragers. It makes paying mortgages, as well as property taxes, especially difficult. It goes against the American sense of promise, punishing those who dare to hope they might move ahead.

    Real bills doctrine: Fed favored banks that carried substant8ial commercial paper. Mortgages, which tended to have maturities of longer periods, won less approval from the banking system.

    January 1932: legislation barring government loans to companies whose presidents were paid more than $15,000/year.

    Roosevelt brain trust: Moley, Tugwell, Berle and Rosenman: The New Deal a play off of the Square Deal from Teddy Roosevelt.
    1932 Hoover signs into law a large tax increase: the Revenue Act of 1932
    This was a time when income tax was more of a class tax than a mass tax.
    Top rate from mid-20 to 63%

    Roosevelt: Our last frontier had long since been reached. It was time for the princes of property, the wealthy to share their resources. Growth would not provide for the poor only redistribution could.

    Cash was not available: Salt Lake City creates the Natural Development Association that made its own money, the "vallar"

    March 4, 1933: FDR president: The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.

    5 the experimenter: October 1933 Unemployment: 22.9% DOW 93

    1932 Glass-Steagall Banking Act in 1932 under Hoover to expand credit.

    FDR needs to act: "Very well then, I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes.

    National Industrial Recovery Act: Drive up prices and put people back to work. Act establishes Public works Administration. Creates labor rights so worker with more pay would spend more and strengthen the economy. Creates the National Recovery Administration, symbolized by a blue eagle - a clear invocation of war.
    Leads to codes of business minimum wage, child labor rules, and maximum hour rules. Overkill of codes: precise components of macaroni, tailors boundaries of work, barred consumers from picking their own chickens for food. All to increase efficiency. If smaller business died out, that might be fore the best.
    FDR June 16: "go on in many groping, disorganized, separate units to defeat or shall we move as one great team to victory.

    Agricultural Adjustment Administration, created to sort our farming. Relieve the national emergency by increasing purchasing power, especially the power of farmers. Begins to pay farmers to produce less. Also encourages farmers to sell less by offering them favorable loans in exchange for restraint.

    Loosens the gold standard: Asks the treasury secretary to call in all the gold in the country forcing citizens to sell their gold to Treasury for dollars. Weakens the gold standard.
    Government buys gold to keep the gold price up. Value of dollar decreases. As gold increases, the price of everything including farm goods increases.

    Civilian Conservation Corps Camp: Serve youths and men who would be unemployed.

    6 a river utopia: November 1933: Unemployment 23.2% DOW 90

    Tennessee Valley Authority: November 1933-product of the New Deal. Power resources generally were too important to stay in the private sector. A public authority, it would manage power, rivers, and economic development thought the Tennessee Valley. It would become the yardstick to compare private companies
    Arthur Morgan: Dams
    Harcourt Morgan: Agriculture
    Lilienthal: Power and rates

    4 goals: electricity to homes and farms
    Increase use of electricity, providing a better standard of living
    Reduce cost of electricity
    Through electricity, create a new and more prosperous form of society.
    Claim to the Hoover dam-> change to Boulder dam
    Theodore Roosevelt dam in Arizona
    Wilson dam at Muscle Shoals
    Coolidge Dam in Arizona

    7 a year of prosecutions: January 1934- Unemployment 21.2% DOW 100

    1933 year of experiment, 1934 year of prosecutions
    Sam Insull and Andrew Mellon

    8 the chicken versus the eagle: November 1, 1934 Unemployment 23.2% DOW 93

    Marin Schechter of the Brooklyn Schechters, chicken butchers. 11/1/34 first loss in court for violating the NRA.
    Law prohibited "straight killing" customer did not have the right to make any selection of particular birds
    1935 Monopoly created
    Bill Wilson (stock analyst) and Dr. Robert Smith create Alcoholics anonymous.

    5/27/33: Schechter wins

    9 Roosevelt's wager: July 1935 - Unemployment 21.3% DOW 119

    Works Progress Administration: run hospitals; dig ditches projects under $25,000
    Federal Writers' Project to employ unemployed writers_ write travel guides to towns and regions

    National youth Administration work and education for thousands of college and high schoolers

    FDR rallies against great accumulation of wealth create a tax bill to change society.
    Rich families to pay an estate tax when they die, and also a new inheritance tax when they inherited money. Graduated corporate income tax vs. flat tax
    1935 Bob Wagner Act: Union, once in place at a company, might keep out workers who did not join. Union need not ever again subject to election for ratification-represent workers in perpetuity.

    Social Security Act - provide pensions for senior citizens. First social security payment would not be issued until 1940. Entice older workers to retire to leave more work for young.

    Utilities Act: 8/26/35

    The new deal was causing the country to forgo prosperity, if not recovery. The wealthy, after all, were in a position to take risks with new ventures precisely because they were wealthy-they could invest in several projects at once.
    1935 75% of projects taxed.
    John Marsh, subordinate of Willkie - marries a smith college dropout who writes gone with the wind. Leads Willkie to promote Marsh to match success of wife...

    1936 first time in peacetime America, federal spending would outpace that of states and localities.
    1936 7th year of depression. Draught hits affecting 33% of the nation
    John Steinbeck: Grapes of Wrath

    10 Mellon's gift December 1936: unemployment 15.3% DOW 182

    Andrew Mellon Business, the private sector could give to the people more than government.
    1930 creates A.W Mellon educational and charitable trust

    11 Roosevelt's revolution January 1937 Unemployment 15% DOW 179

    1/20/37 FDR inauguration see one third of a nation ill-housed, ill-clad, ill-nourished. We are beginning to wipe out the line that divides the practical from the ideal; and in so doing we are fashioning an instrument of unimagined power for the establishment of a morally better world.

    12 the man in the brooks brothers shirt January 1937 unemployment 15.1% DOW 179

    Stalin's Russia
    [...]

    Wagner Act, in the short run, continued to hurt profitable companies.

    13 black Tuesday, again August 27, 1937 Unemployment 13.5% DOW 187

    Andrew Mellon dies (82) August 19737

    Taxes designed to punish risk but permitted little reward.

    14 brace up, America January 1938 Unemployment 17.4% DOW 121

    1935 Congress passed a Neutrality Act. Republicans were still leading the isolationist charge

    15 Willkie's wager January 1940 unemployment 14.6% DOW 151

    WWII, as in any war, bigger business tended to do well, for they were the ones who became government partners.
    ...more info
  • History repeats itself...
    This book is one of many in what is now a growing list of publications that have taken a more detailed look at the Great Depression and the fiscal policies instituted to combat the crisis. The thorough analysis told through the author's narrative writing style provides a very captivating and in-depth analysis of the federal government's fiscal policy mistakes during the Depression.

    The analysis of the political environment during this time also provides some striking parallels to what's happening in 2009. The Obama administration playbook is not so much Lincoln (a la "Team Of Rivals"), but more FDR and 1930's "Brain Trust".

    Whichever side of the economic fence one may sit on debating the fiscal success or failure of New Deal policies, it is irrefutable that this era of US history produced an enormous expansion of government powers that we have not seen since.

    With just enough statistics to not overwhelm the average reader, I would highly recommend "The Forgotten Man" for the same reason I recommended "The Ascent Of Money" (N. Ferguson)-- it offers an illuminating insight into things that are/will directly affect everyone's lives without the overload of spin-masters and buzz-words that continually bombard us through the daily dose of cable and print media....more info
  • Obama Playbook
    This book is amazing. Almost everything FDR did translates into what's happening today. I just hope Obama doesn't drag out the "recovery" as long as FDR did. FDR was a great war leader but was an amateur when it came to economics and capitalism. Sound familiar?

    If you want to know what's going to happen next to our country, read this book....more info
  • The Forgotten Man
    The Author gives a logical very well organized and extremely well written concise history of the Depression Years....more info
  • Flaws keep it from making a strong case, but current events make this a timely read.
    I was excited to read this book after hearing interviews with Amity Shlaes. But as I read, I found flaws that really bothered me. My overall criticism is that she tried to write the book as a narrative, rather than an academic piece (e.g. no footnotes), but that didn't work.

    She includes a long bibliography, but I wished that there were footnotes so you could see more clearly where certain facts and events came from. The notes on the chapters in the back were too sparse. If the reader had questions or disagreed with her facts, anecdotes, or analysis, there was no way to find out more about what was supporting her text.

    Other reviewers have commented on the unemployment numbers she cites and how they can be misleading. When I looked into that, I agree that she doesn't give you the whole picture with regard to unemployment during the 1930's. This also weakens her case.

    Her portrayal of Roosevelt is consistently negative--even positive traits are spun to be negative. For example, his personal charm is cast as a tool for political manipulation. I think that Ms. Shlaes took a personal dislike to Roosevelt and let that color her analysis. However, she does flesh out the reasons why the anti-Roosevelt folks felt the way they did in the 1930s.

    Despite its flaws in terms of assessing the New Deal and Great Depression, I found this book to be timely considering the election of Obama and the current economic crisis. I have also read Team of Rivals and so far I would say Obama is less like Lincoln in Team of Rivals than he is like Roosevelt in Forgotten Man.

    Ms. Shlaes arguments against government attacks on business and the wealthy, as well as her portrayal of the negative effects of governmental indecision serve as important warnings to our current leaders.

    Unfortunately, this book will end up "preaching to the choir," rather than convincing anyone to change their opinion of the New Deal or Rooseveltian Liberalism. ...more info
  • The Forgotten Man...a story for today!
    This book describes the policies and projects of the great depression of the 1930's. I, and my son in law who also read this book, find this story to be a description of our current financial mess and the downward spiriling economic conditions in our country and the world today. Amazing that so many of the good ideas and mistakes of the FDR administration are being repeated today. If a person is interested in knowing more about, not only the depression, but the current financial/economic mess and how the same speculative mistakes of the late '20's have been repeated with the same results, grab a copy of this very well written book and catch up on todays events through eyes of the 1930's; amazing similarities between these two periods. Great book!...more info
  • "Why government was the problem?" asks Amity Shlaes in The Forgotten Man
    The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression , Review for Amazon.

    Amity Shlaes offers a well researched and an interestingly written history of the Great Depression and she is correct in characterizing it as a new history because she looks at the players and the policies critically from the standpoint of their impact in fixing the economic problem they were in without a lot of precedence and knowledge of how the economy worked relative to what we know about the economy today.

    Shlaes, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, does an excellent job analyzing the economics but she could have done more justice to the story's principal characters, particularly FDR, had she placed him better in the context of the history that transpired after the war.

    FDR and Truman created important domestic and international institutions of great import and consequence that placed the United States at the top of the newly emerging democratic global political and economic order which we think of as the norm today.

    FDR's leadership has many lessons for President Obama as he attempts to extricate the United States from Iraq, Afghanistan and from this recession, which has been wrongly and prematurely labeled as another Great Depression, just as it did much later for the New Deal Democrat turned Goldwater Republican Ronald Reagan when he ended the Cold War.

    The sad story of this administration so far is that, on balance, FDR had gotten many things right on economics also, given the largely laissez-faire view of U.S economic policy then, but this administration is having great difficulty, despite a far better understanding of how the economy works more than six decades later, reforming the very institutions FDR and Truman had created to suit the 21st century under far less pressures in comparison to the Great Depression, WWII and the emerging Soviet Empire.

    The Obama administration is getting the policies wrong, whereas FDR and Truman had many of the policies right, which explains their endurance....more info
  • Wonderful History, Informative and Entertaining
    Amity Shlaes created a fantastic work of history with her book, The Forgotten Man. It's well written and clearly well researched. She works through the history, largely from the actions of the government, but includes plenty of personal stories as well. If, like me, you only had a general idea of the history of the Great Depression and relied largely on movies like Golddiggers of 33 or Grapes of Wrath, you're in for a few surprises. More than a few. The book sets about busting quite a few myths about the Great Depression, especially regarding the amount of good that Roosevelt did and the amount of evil that was committed by Hoover. That's not to say that this is a right wing polemic. It isn't. Instead, Amity Shlaes clearly did what not all historians should, followed the facts where they lead her....more info
  • The Forgotten Man
    Wonderfully researched history. Everyone should read this book. The paralells to today's economy are ironic. I am glad to have purchased the audio version - the book would have been to tedious for me....more info
  • Interesting yet scattershot view of the Great Depression
    I have to admit that first and foremost I admire Ms. Shlaes because in the current economic downturn she has been one of the few voices of reason that we are not in fact even close to the Great Depression. This book provides a good overview of the people who fought the depression and what tools they used to try and fight it. Shlaes admits that ignorance was one of the biggest allies of the depression and was the main reason that it was so long lasting and so deep.

    Still the book lacks a common person's view of the depression. There are sidelights into what was going on at this time and we do see some people who inadvertently became historical footnotes, but for the most part, there are no vignettes of everyday life during the depression. This is an interesting history but is lacking in everyday reality and drama that made the depression such a transitional event in American History. ...more info
  • Dogmas without analysis
    Although The Forgotten Man is thorough researched and has many interesting observations, the book is faulted by the author's rather dogmatic views on particular persons, most notably FDR, supreme judge Louis Brandeis and president candidate Wendell Wilkie.

    The book covers politics and to some extent the economy in the US from 1927 to 1940, with an emphasis on the FDRs first presidential period, from 1933 to 1937, the Golden period of the New Deal.

    Most economists acknowledges that the New Deal had some serious faults, which made the Great Depression longer and deeper. Disappointingly, Shlaes does hardly provide any economic analysis of the different Acts and Administrations of the New Deal. Instead, she is morally obsessed by FDR and his gang, who are trying to curb the business sector. E.g., there is a vivid description of two New York chicken farmers who are tried for selling sick chickens and offering too low prices. But Shlaes is rather imprecise, and it is difficult to know what is really the case.

    The best part of the book is of the TVA, and the dilemmas facing the private businesses trying to compete with the powerful government company. There are also interesting portraits of some of the key characters of the time, such as former treasury secretary Andrew Mellon, Chicago utility czar Samuel Insull and New Deal mastermind Rex Tugwell. By and large, however, I would not recommend this book....more info
  • The Forgotten Man
    This was a very timely and informative overview of the history of the depression. I was struck with how it revealed how we are bound to repeat our mistakes if we don't learn from them. I heard the news in the media today as an echo of what I was reading in this book that happened 70 years ago.

    The only negative I found in this book, was that it scared me. It hits very close to the core of the problems we are having right now. The same greed and lust for power are operating . FDR made many mistakes, let's hope the Obama administration learns from the past and guides our country in the right direction.

    Since I had lived in Tennessee for many years, I found the section about the development of the TVA dams and hydroelectric system very interesting. I was also fascinated with Andrew Mellon's art collection and donation that created the National Gallery of Art.

    Amity Shlaes is an excellent researcher and writer. I highly recommend this book....more info
  • Counter balance
    I actually found the book to be a decent counterpoint to the very liberal, Reagan-bashing Depression book by Mcelvaine. But then, I tend to be fairly conservative, and therefore am a little more comfortable in hearing about FDR's fallibilty and attacks on concentrated wealth than some readers. I thought the writing flowed very well, was easy to grasp (but with appropriate detail), and didn't mind the concentration on a small set of less prominent (or at least overexposed) characters like Tugwell, Willkie, Insull, and Mellon. I can accept the argument that this is probably not the only book you should ever read on the Depression, but I think it provides a non-strident, competent retelling of the event through a more conservative lens. Definitely easier to swallow than some of the New Deal triumphalism that comprises a lot of Depression history. Never forget that the New Deal didn't break the back of the Depression; WW2 spending did. ...more info
  • A must read!
    With the economy today and the great concern we all have for what it means for the future this book is a must read to begin to understand how today's situation differs from the great depression, and more importantly how it is similar. "The Forgotten Man" represents a part of history that is no longer being taught in schools, and by ignoring the past, as we so often hear, we are in danger of repeating the same mistakes,

    The first signs that the depression was ending and that the New Deal was actually working was not the beginning of World War II and America's involvement. It didn't begin to end with Pearl Harbor as those who oppose President Obama's plans continue to proclaim. In 1930 the unemployment rate was more than 20%, but by 1934, with the New Deal beginning to gain a foothold, unemployment came down to just over 10%. It rose again briefly but then declined steadily right up to the beginning of the war.

    Reading about and understanding depressions and recessions can only help to give us a clearer view of how some things work, and others don't, and with a greater understanding of what the Gold standard was, and what fiat currency is the basics of economics becomes clearer and less worrisome....more info
  • A moving lesson on the Great Depression
    Wow, after reading this book I was able to draw many parrallels between then and now....more info
  • Great
    I purchased this book because I wanted a different view on the causes and resolution of the Great Depression. This a very well researched and well written account of what happened, roots of the problem and why it lasted so long in the US versus the rest of the world.
    It debunks the myth that the "NEW DEAL" put an end to the depression and that Herbert Hoover started it.
    ...more info