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The Forgotten Man [Kindle Edition]

Amity Shlaes
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (567 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.99
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Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

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Book Description

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.



Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This breezy narrative comes from the pen of a veteran journalist and economics reporter. Rather than telling a new story, she tells an old one (scarcely lacking for historians) in a fresh way. Shlaes brings to the tale an emphasis on economic realities and consequences, especially when seen from the perspective of monetarist theory, and a focus on particular individuals and events, both celebrated and forgotten (at least relatively so). Thus the spotlight plays not only on Andrew Mellon, Wendell Wilkie and Rexford Tugwell but also on Father Divine and the Schechter brothers—kosher butcher wholesalers prosecuted by the federal National Recovery Administration for selling "sick chickens." As befits a former writer for the Wall Street Journal, Shlaes is sensitive to the dangers of government intervention in the economy—but also to the danger of the government's not intervening. In her telling, policymakers of the 1920s weren't so incompetent as they're often made out to be—everyone in the 1930s was floundering and all made errors—and WWII, not the New Deal, ended the Depression. This is plausible history, if not authoritative, novel or deeply analytical. It's also a thoughtful, even-tempered corrective to too often unbalanced celebrations of FDR and his administration's pathbreaking policies. 16 pages of b&w photos. (June 12)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Its duration and depth made the Depression "Great," and Shlaes, a prominent conservative economics journalist, considers why a decade of government intervention ameliorated but never tamed it. With vitality uncommon for an economics history, Shlaes chronicles the projects of Herbert Hoover and Franklin Roosevelt as well as these projects' effect on those who paid for them. Reminding readers that the reputedly do-nothing Hoover pulled hard on the fiscal levers (raising tariffs, increasing government spending), Shlaes nevertheless emphasizes that his enthusiasm for intervention paled against the ebullient FDR's glee in experimentation. She focuses closely on the influence of his fabled Brain Trust, her narrative shifting among Raymond Moley, Rexford Tugwell, and other prominent New Dealers. Businesses that litigated their resistance to New Deal regulations attract Shlaes' attention, as do individuals who coped with the despair of the 1930s through self-help, such as Alcoholics Anonymous cofounder Bill Wilson. The book culminates in the rise of Wendell Willkie, and Shlaes' accent on personalities is an appealing avenue into her skeptical critique of the New Deal. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 1134 KB
  • Print Length: 498 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0060936428
  • Publisher: HarperCollins e-books; Reprint edition (October 13, 2009)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000ROKXXI
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #60,175 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
974 of 1,099 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brings You Back to the 1930's June 15, 2007
Format:Hardcover
The Forgotten Man (TFM for short) is not a polemic. It is not an argument for a particular theory or economic interpretation of the Depression. Instead, the author steps back and lets the story tell itself. She has sifted through memoirs and contemporaneous accounts in order to carry the reader back into the mindset of the 1930's. She focuses on a diverse selection of protagonists from that period, including opponents of Roosevelt like Andrew Mellon and Wendell Wilkie as well as members of Roosevelt's "brain trust" like Paul Douglas and Rexford Tugwell. Note that in the context of that time, "trust" meant the same thing as cartel (as in anti-trust laws). Roosevelt was claiming that with his advisers he had cornered the market on brains. If so, then after reading TFM, my sense is that there was not much value in this particular monopoly.

I came away with three major conclusions.

1. For better or worse, much of the country saw the Depression as something akin to a natural disaster, and people accordingly lowered their expectations for their standard of living.

2. Economic ignorance among policymakers was much worse than I had realized. I was steeped in the myth that the reason the Depression was so bad was that only Keynes had the answer, and he had to overcome the resistance of "the classical economists," such as Irving Fisher. But the differences between Fisher and Keynes seem small when compared to the differences between the policymakers and both economists. In physics, it would be like watching an academic debate over the meaning of quantum mechanics while policymakers are unable to grasp the simple concept of gravity.

3.
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269 of 323 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What were the actual effects of New Deal policies? June 27, 2007
Format:Hardcover
For offering a critical view of FDR's policies in her terrific new book THE FORGOTTEN MAN, Amity Shlaes has been taken to task by those who say that his charisma helped lift American spirits and get us through the Great Depression. FDR certainly had charisma, but what were the effects of his New Deal policies?

Dozens of economists, including two Nobel Prize winners, have evaluated the consequences of New Deal policies. Empirical research at many universities raises suggests that the New Deal actually prolonged the Great Depression. Consider some key questions like these:

1. Why did FDR triple federal taxes during the Great Depression? Federal tax revenues more than tripled, from $1.6 billion in 1933 to $5.3 billion in 1940. Excise taxes, personal income taxes, inheritance taxes, corporate income taxes, holding company taxes and "excess profits" taxes all went up. FDR introduced an undistributed profits tax. Consumers had less money to spend, and employers had less money for growth and jobs.

2. How much net benefit did the New Deal provide ordinary people who paid most of the costs of the New Deal? For instance, the biggest New Deal welfare programs were funded before 1936, when federal excise taxes on beer, wine, cigarettes, soft drinks, chewing gum, radios and other things purchased by millions of ordinary people, generated more revenue than the federal personal income tax and the federal corporate income tax combined. According to the standard reference work HISTORICAL STATISTICS OF THE UNITED STATES FROM COLONIAL TIMES TO THE PRESENT, in 1936 the federal government collected $674.4 million from the personal income tax, $753 million from the corporate income tax and $1.5 billion from excise taxes.
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101 of 120 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Recipe for An Economic Depression August 16, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Tariffs, tax rate increases, wage and price controls and tight money. Government vacillation and unpredictibility. That these policies undermined business confidence and blocked economic recovery was lost on Hoover, FDR and their elite advisors. Ms. Shlaes makes a compelling case that but for those policies the 1929 downturn would have self-corrected by the early 30s, rather than drag on through the remander of the decade and into the next.

Another major theme of the book is the vast growth of government under FDR, including goverment subsidized and controlled projects (mostly utilities) that unfairly competed with the private sector. She also discusses FDR's successful (and cynical) strategy for the 1936 campaign, including persecution and condemnation of big business and catering to various targeted voting blocks (farmers, big labor, pensioners, women and blacks). Sound familiar?

The book is generally well written, although the focus drifts from time to time and more analysis would have been welcome. She also includes too many names and mini-resumes of peripheral players.

The Forgotten Man (a term that morphed under FDR from the taxpayer to the unemployed) is recommended for those who want a better understanding of the economics and politics of the 30s to correct some long standing myths (e.g. depression a failure of capitalism, FDR "brought us out" of the depression) and better understand today's economic and political issues.
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395 of 483 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beware of the Elites June 15, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Amity Shlaes has written an enormously important book. She offers abundant evidence that both the Republican Hoover and the Democrat Roosevelt unwittingly worsened the Great Depression. They opted for policies preventing the economic system from self-correcting. These two American leaders foolishly relied on the advice of elites infatuated with the Soviet Union. They essentially thought that the graduates of our best schools should manage the country. To be blunt, the elites were supposed to be our benevolent dictators.

Pay particular attention to Shlaes analysis of the Schechter brothers' confrontation with intellectual thugs associated with Harvard University. The author never mentions the vastly overrated works of Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. Nonetheless, The Forgotten Man is something of a direct attack on the late historian's less than admirable scholarship. Did Franklin D. Roosevelt save our nation? He admittedly may have done so in our fight against the fascists during WW II. Roosevelt's attempts to manage the American economy, however, almost destroyed our democratic institutions. The road to hell is sadly often paved with good intentions. We should learn form history---and never let this happen again. Regular citizens must be willing to check and balance the behavior of those most inclined toward arrogant ego-tripping and power seeking. The Forgotten Man deserves three cheers. You should obtain a copy immediately.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars DON'T MISS THIS GREAT HISTORY OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION
I purchased the volume, half expecting it to be a conservative diatribe against FDR. Instead I discovered a superbly written, magnificent history, giving much background left... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Locksley - lover of truth
4.0 out of 5 stars Good information, but the story really did not flow
Good information, but the story really did not flow. Some references were pretty obscure. The story of the TVA and Wendell Willkie's role was really well told.
Published 4 days ago by Lloyd Matson
2.0 out of 5 stars Thesis unfinished.
The book seems to have been aborted when 2/3 through the subject matter. It is a listing of facts without a thesis. Read more
Published 9 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read about a time in America history which we ...
Great read about a time in America history which we do not teach our children.Look at today and the world we now live in and the 1930s history repeating it self in many ways.
Published 19 days ago by James Bolduc
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but dry at times
Very interesting and full of information, but a little dry at times. I would recommend it to anyone interested in the Great Depression
Published 20 days ago by Sarah Brooks
5.0 out of 5 stars FINALLY-The truth about the Great Depression and how FDR and Hoover...
Obviously, a great deal of hard work and research went into this book. It is obvious that almost everything FDR & HH did made life miserable for the average American thanks to... Read more
Published 29 days ago by S. Everitt
4.0 out of 5 stars very interesting
I was taken by how little has changes in the last hundred years. There seems to be few leaders who know and learn from history. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Robbie D. Porter
5.0 out of 5 stars A great book to inform us about the FDR administration that ...
A great book to inform us about the FDR administration that we were never taught in school. It mirrows our current administration. Paul
Published 1 month ago by paul daniels
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Came in good condition
Published 1 month ago by ramona tutone
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book. Illustrates what happens when successive...
Excellent book. Illustrates what happens when successive administration act to cause a mild recession to become the great depression.
Published 1 month ago by Richard
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More About the Author

Amity Shlaes is proud to announce the publication of FORGOTTEN MAN GRAPHIC, a graphic version of her national bestseller about the 1930s, THE FORGOTTEN MAN. The artist for this 300-page treatment is the renowned cartoonist Paul Rivoche. Some samples of this cartoon book are on Miss Shlaes's facebook page. This is a book for thinkers and teachers, containing timelines and profiles of historic characters from the 1920s and 1930s.
Miss Shlaes is the author of three national bestsellers, COOLIDGE, THE FORGOTTEN MAN, and THE GREEDY HAND.
Miss Shlaes chairs the board of the Calvin Coolidge Memorial Foundation. She is chairman of the Hayek Prize, a prize for free market books given by the Manhattan Institute.
She teaches economic history at New York University's Stern School of Business.
Miss Shlaes has been the recipient of the Frederic Bastiat Prize of the International Policy Network, the Warren Brookes Prize (2008) of the American Legislative Exchange Council, as well as a two-time finalist for the Loeb Prize (Anderson School/UCLA).
In 2009, "The Forgotten Man" won the Manhattan Institute's Hayek Prize. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Yale College and did graduate work at the Freie Universitaet Berlin on a DAAD fellowship. She and her husband, the editor and author Seth Lipsky, have four children.

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JLP I fully agree with you and due to this very fact just advised a few people in my book club not to buy a Kindle yet. Paper back of a certain book can be bought for $7.28/$10.00 hard copy $14.91 but the cost of the Kindle Edition goes up to a whopping $20.52. Like you my reason for buying a... Read More
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Yep - I second this sentiment... prepping for my birthday next month and family and friends are used to finding my list on Amazon. I'm trying to do more reading on my Kindle these days and I think it stinks that I can't put kindle content on my wishlist!
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I don't see the point in adding device after device after device
Hey, James,
You sell Android devices I gather? Why don't you try Kindle? It's for serious people who like reading books. And if you are too tired to read, Kindle will read the book to you, very convenient and highly functional. Your ridiculous Android can't even come close, it's a toy for 15 year... Read More
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books in my local asda are much cheaper than the kindle version of the...
oujibabe, that appears to be the case.
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New Kindle Owner with Questions!
Go to your wish list from your kindle, find the book you want, click on it, and then hit "buy."
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What's the reason for not launching several books in kindle format...? Be the first to reply
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