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Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929-1945 (Oxford History of the United States) Paperback – April 19, 2001
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Whereas Brokaw made use of extensive interviews, Kennedy relies on published accounts and primary sources, all meticulously footnoted. This academic rigor, however, does not render the book dull--far from it. Certainly the subject matter is interesting enough in its own right, but Kennedy offers attention-grabbing turns of phrase on nearly every page. He also unleashes some convention-shattering theses, such as his revelation that "the most responsible students of the events of 1929 have been unable to demonstrate an appreciable cause-and-effect linkage between the Crash and the Depression" and his subsequent argument that, although it made order out of chaos, the New Deal did not reverse the Depression--that, he says, was the war's doing. All in all, Freedom from Fear compares favorably to its companions in the multivolume Oxford History of the United States in both its comprehensive heft and its vivid readability. --Ron Hogan --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Covering the years from just before outbreak The Great Depression to the end of World War II and the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the author focuses on the impact which Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) had on America during this seminal period of our history, and how his influence still impacts on our country today.
"Freedom From Fear" is an extremely long book--over 900 pages in length--and the early chapters, detailing various aspects of The "New Deal" and the many agencies under the "New Deal" which F.D.R. helped establish, are a bit too detailed and not quite as interesting as the rest of the book. But none of the wealth of information which Kennedy gives is dull or uninteresting--and when Kennedy starts to write about the events that occurred in Europe and the Pacific during World WarII, his book becomes as enthralling as any novel.
A previous Amazon Reviewer faults Kennedy for being anti-Rosevelt and says that Kennedy feels "nothing Roosevelt did seems right." I wonder if we have read the same book! Kennedy is an obvious admirer of F.D.R. and does not hesitate to point out his many accomplishments and praise his ability as a politician and "visionary" in helping to draw so many conflicting elements in Congress and the country as a whole, together.
Kennedy DOES point out that Roosevelt kept many of his thoughts and motives to himself--and that even his closest friends didn't know always exactly what he was THINKING. But the fact remains that F.D.R.Read more ›
First, because he is trying to cover so much, the book ends up being just a broad survey and, of necessity, omits too much, and places too much reliance on secondary sources. This is probably inevitable considering the scope of the project and the vast literature available. Each chapter covers a particular theme, which makes the book look like a series of lectures or articles, rather than a unified whole.
Second, the book badly needed a good editing before publication. There are two problems here. The first is that stories are repeated, almost verbatim, in different chapters, and occasionally even within a single chapter. The second is that, in the areas with which I am familiar, I found numerous factual errors. To cite just three, at the battle of the Philippine Sea it was not Raymond Spruance, commander of the Fifth Fleet, who ordered the lights turned on for the returning aircraft, but Marc Mitscher, commander of the carrier groups. Again, it was not Thomas Kinkaid, commander of the Seventh Fleet, who "crossed the T" at Surigao Strait, but rather Jesse Oldendorf, who commanded the battleships and other fire support ships.Read more ›
Yet unlike Brokow's effort and that of other historians like Stephen Ambrose, Kennedy avoids wide use of primary interviewing, and the difference this leads to in the tone and perspective of the book is telling. Like Goodwin's effort, this is a superb book, wonderfully written, eminently accessible (an important quality given its length of nearly 900 pages), with a sometimes soaring prose style that is so distinctive and so refreshing that reading it is a joy. This is history come to life, full of the color and hues of the original events, presented in a manner that is at once both academically sophisticated and yet available and readable by the general audience. Kennedy makes the reader feel as though he is present in the moment, experiencing the events as they transpire rather than eavesdropping some seventy or so years after the fact. Hearing about the ways in which feckless Herbert Hoover, for example, was in many ways the helpless victim of circumstances is quite interesting.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Freedom from Fear: The American People in Depression and War, 1929- 1945, by David M. Kennedy. It is one in the series of The Oxford History of the United States, of which I have... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Brandon Whisenhunt
This is an interesting book, written from a liberal (in the current sense 2015) perspective. There are some factual errors, but it does give a valuable insight into a very... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Charles W. Arnold
I have just finished this book, reading until 2:30 am to cover the last few pages, and am grateful for, and educated, and entertained by this wonderful book. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Jim Johnson
One of the best-written histories I've read. In other hands this could have been just another tedious history of the '30s and '40s. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Sally S. Hermsdorfer
If you have the option of downloading Mr. Kennedy's tome onto an electronic tablet, you may want to go that route. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Franklin the Mouse