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The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal (The Politically Incorrect Guides) Paperback – March 31, 2009

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Product Details

  • Series: The Politically Incorrect Guides
  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Regnery Publishing (March 31, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596980966
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596980969
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 7.1 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #430,159 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Read this book and understand why massively increasing government is not change we can believe in. --Congressman Ron Paul --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

From the Inside Flap

Everything you know about the Great Depression and the New Deal is wrong

We all learned in school that the 1920s were a time of unregulated capitalism that led to the stock market Crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s. Herbert Hoover was a laissez-faire ideologue who did nothing to alleviate the crisis--even as citizens starved and were forced to live in "Hoovervilles." And the interventionist policies and massive spending programs of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal gradually lifted us out of the Depression, until World War II brought it to a definitive end.

The only trouble with this official narrative--taught in most history textbooks, and proclaimed as gospel by the media--is that every element of it is false. Worse, this unsubstantiated myth is now being used to justify a "new New Deal" in response to today's economic crisis that could lead to a Greater Depression even deeper and longer than the first. But in The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal, economist Robert Murphy fact-checks the myths, shows why they're wrong, and delves deep into history to set the record straight. His "politically incorrect" conclusion? It was government, not free markets, that caused the Great Depression--and the New Deal only made it worse. The real "lessons of the Great Depression" are not what you've been taught.

* The Crash of `29 was caused not by capitalism, but by the boom brought on by the newly created Federal Reserve's easy money policy (sound familiar?)
* Hoover made the Depression "Great" precisely by abandoning the laissez-faire approach that previous presidents had followed and that kept depressions short
* The bank runs of the 1930s were caused by government intervention in the banking system
* Government efforts to prop up wages and prices led to a full decade of double-digit unemployment
* FDR's arbitrary policies toward businessmen resulted in net investment of less than zero for much of the Depression

Might Barack Obama be the new FDR? You'll know, after reading The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Great Depression and the New Deal that if he is, that's nothing to celebrate.

Customer Reviews

Easy to read, but well researched.
Albert Holder
The argument that government spending was what saved us from the Great Depression, and that a lack of spending by Hoover caused the problem is fairly easy to disprove.
Fritz R. Ward
I would recommend this book as priority reading for anyone wanting to understand the Great Depression or the current financial crisis more thoroughly.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

248 of 271 people found the following review helpful By Fritz R. Ward VINE VOICE on April 16, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One of the problems with economic history is that it is difficult to "test" it properly. With regard to the Great Depression and the New Deal, there is still a very loud contingent of Keynesian economists who insist that had Hoover and Roosevelt just spent even more money than they did, we would not have experienced a prolonged depression. Other economists, notably the Monetarist school founded by Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz, insist that responsibility must lie with the Federal Reserve for not acting quickly enough to stem deflationary pressures, while still other economists, especially the Austrian school, claim the problem was caused by government intervention into the market place. All these writers can point to some evidence in support their position, though in the case of the Keynesians, that evidence is very narrow and often somewhat contrived, especially when it appears from the pen of popular columnist Paul Krugman. But the problem is that we cannot simply directly test what would have happened had their been no New Deal, or an even greater amount of spending on the New Deal. Similarly, we cannot directly test the effects of monetary policy. What we can do is carefully examine what actually happened before, during, and after the Great Depression using these three models and see which interpretation best accords with the known facts. Such a project requires a great deal more familiarity with economics than most historians possess. Not surprisingly, studies which have done this sort of analysis in the past, most notably Murray N. Rothbard's America's Great Depression have not been very accessible to the public at large.Read more ›
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91 of 104 people found the following review helpful By PJM on April 14, 2009
Format: Paperback
Robert P. Murphy's new book makes the reader question one's own education about the U.S. Surely Social Security, abandoning the gold standard, the FDIC, are all good things! And didn't the New Deal get us out of our worst economic mess in history? Weren't we all taught that in school, indeed, perhaps by our own parents? Much like his previous work (PIG - Capitalism), Murphy's new book takes dead aim at many of the myths and outright falsehoods of that time. And he instructs us in an easy, straight-forward style. He reminds us (perhaps we never knew) of the outrages of the New Deal: the thug-like tactics of the National Recovery Administration, bank "holidays", government destruction of food, and so on. And Murphy's likening of Hoover/Roosevelt to Bush/Obama is superb.
But alas, nothing is perfect. Murphy's book is troubling in two respects: 1. the reader wants/needs more - I literally could not put the book down... I wanted to keep going - his style makes for such easy and interesting reading! 2. his analysis of the current US state of affairs vis a vis 70-80 years ago is downright scary! He certainly does not exude confidence in our current "leaders."
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58 of 68 people found the following review helpful By S. Coughlin on April 13, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Economic history is a difficult subject to enjoy. Rarely is an entry easily readable to a lay audience and even rarer does it show its applicability to current events. This book succeeds at both.
Released in an exceptionally timely manner and well styled, the reader will have trouble telling the book from a newspaper. Similar to his earlier The Politically Incorrect Guide(tm) to Capitalism (Politically Incorrect Guides) (Paperback), the author covers a large amount of history and theory together, never losing the reader's attention or confusing us with tedious theoretical minutia. Instead you'll find the simplest of graphs that make the most profound of conclusions by themselves. Quick reviews of familiar topics are followed by shocking details few have heard before. Always radical, but never dry or confusing, the subjects fall into each other smoothly. The history itself is right-on, with some of the latest research seamless with the more conventional subject matters.
The book starts with the Hoover administration, covers the crash, Hoover's response, and then details the whole Roosevelt administration, providing important points on earlier and later history throughout. Coverage is quick but exhaustive--every major political and economic development is mentioned.
Some of the PIG series tend to be trite with their arguments, but not this entry. Discussion of the classical gold metal standards' value and the working mechanisms of floating currency exchange under it were new, even to a well-read history hobbyist. The analysis of the sudden end of the New Deal is fresh and leads one to want to look further into this profound yet neglected development of our history.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By parisltm on July 2, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Great book. Perfectly summarizes the reasons for the Great Depression. Debunks the idea that recessions or depressions are inherent in free market economic systems, instead laying the blame squarely on Central Banking. Shows why the Great Depression started as a bad recession and how it became Great, thanks to the interventionist policies of Hoover and Roosevelt.

Robert Murphy makes use of sound economic analysis from an Austrian perspective (meaning the Austrian School of economics) to show and demonstrate how the depression was not caused by laissez faire policies but by the money supply manipulations of the Federal reserve, which was legislated into existence to purportedly reduce the number of recessions or runs of the banks that created the previous recessions. In fact the Federal Reserve merely helped to hasten the big recession that started in 1929.

What happened in 1929 is not that different to what happened in 1919-1921 (when the US suffered the OTHER Great Depression nobody hears about today). But instead of having the government reduce spending and lower taxes, to help people recover faster, the Hoover administration tried to bail out farmers, laborers and manufacturers by propping up food prices, wages and imposing a tariff that started a trade war between the US and everybody else.

Dr. Murphy debunks many other myths highly touted by historians, leftists and even many so-called conservatives:

+ That Herbert Hoover let the problem grow by a "do-nothing" approach, regardless of the clamors made by many.
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More About the Author

Robert P. Murphy has a PhD in economics from New York University. He is the author of many books for the layperson on economic topics. He has testified before Congress on several occasions, and is interviewed often on popular media outlets including John Stossel and Judge Napolitano. Murphy is the president of Consulting By RPM, and blogs at