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The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction 1st Edition

19 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195326345
ISBN-10: 0195326342
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Editorial Reviews


"Rauchway boils it down to 150 pages. He calls it: The Great Depression and the New Deal: A Very Short Introduction. I call it required reading."--Laura Conaway, NPR's Planet Money

"Everybody's talking new New Deal these days... Eric Rauchway is all over this."-Paul Krugman, The New York Times

"This well written, informative and illustrated book sets the scene, introduces the analysis and paves the way for an informed debate from which we can--and should--learn much."--Andrew Dodgshon, Tribune (UK)

About the Author

Eric Rauchway is Professor of History at the University of California, Davis. He is the author most recently of Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America and Murdering McKinley: The Making of Theodore Roosevelt's America. He has written for The American Prospect, The Financial Times (a regular columnist while teaching at Oxford), The New Republic Online, and MSNBC's "Altercation."

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (March 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195326342
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195326345
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 0.6 x 4.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,975 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
The Oxford University Press publishes a series called "Very Short Introductions" written by authorities in their fields. The series helps to introduce busy and curious readers to a wide variety of subjects. The series numbers nearly 200 volumes and includes subjects from history, philosophy, religion, science, and the humanities. This series constitutes an admirable way for any person to learn something about new matters and to expand his or her intellectual horizons.

Eric Rauchway's recent contribution to the series, "The Great Depression & the New Deal" (2008) offers, in 130 pages, a succinct, thoughtful overview of a pivotal and controversial period of American history. Rauchway is Professor of History at the University of California Davis. His books include ""Murdering McKinley: the Making of Theodore Roosevelt's America" and "Blessed Among Nations: How the World Made America." In his "Very Short Introduction" to the Depression and New Deal, Rauchway makes no pretense of offering a complete or a definitive account. Instead, he offers "some basic ideas for a first understanding of this profound crisis and America's still-influential legislative response." (p.2) Rauchway includes a good bibliography "on the principle that you will go on from here if you wish to fully appreciate the period." For the briefness of its approach, Rauchway's book offers good insight into the Depression and New Deal.

In his opening chapter, Rauchway traces the origins of the Great Depression to the world-wide collapse of the economic order following WW I, with the tensions between the creditor nation, the United States, and the debt-laden rest of the world. He discusses the uncontrolled expansion of credit in the United States and the speculation-driven rise of the stock market.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 29, 2008
Format: Paperback
As a concise overview, this book is excellent. Rauchway covers the background of the Great Depression, its onset, and the major features of the New Deal in less than 130 pages of this small book. Rauchway presents the Great Depression as essentially a vicious downward economic cycle made possible by the destruction of the pre-WWI economic system, the nature of the postwar political/economic settlement, and American refusal to play the needed leadership role in postwar international affairs. This is followed by a concise description of the consequences of the depression and the inadequate response of the Hoover administration. Following the work of quite a few other historians, the New Deal is presented as a series of sometimes contradictory experiments to resuscitate the American economy, and in particular, maintain the major features of a capitalist economy. Rauchway in particularly good on the interaction, and sometimes synergy, between the economic and political goals of the successive Roosevelt administrations. Eventually, the New Deal would develop a 'countervailing power' strategy with significant regulation of the economy and use of Federal authority to empower individuals and interest groups who could oppose the power of business. With later success of the Roosevelt administrations in WWII, this approach became the basis of post-war liberal policy.
Rauchway is appropriately critical of the failings of the New Deal, some of which were unavoidable and hence inherent in the nature of the American political and social system. A important point that Rauchway omits is the background of many New Deal reforms, which were rooted in an earlier generation of Progressive era thought and reformism.
This book is written clearly and has an excellent bibliography.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By John Dynan on June 13, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Great Depression and The New Deal is a new title from Oxford University Press in its terrific series of Very Small Introductions. This topic will draw considerable debate from those interested in the factional aspects of economic theory but the author (and I) leave that for the reader to judge for themselves.

Eric Rauchway is a Professor of History at the University of California, Davis and has done a remarkable job of putting together an interesting little book which, without pretending to present everything, covers this remarkable period with both old an new perspectives.

Starting with the end of The Great War, Rauchway goes into the boom time of the Roaring 20's and into the Wall St Crash of 1929. He points to excessive levels of cheap credit and high levels of debt as a major factor in the impact the Crash had on America, which parallels the present Global financial Crisis.

Efforts by the Hoover administration to contain the effects failed and by the time Roosevelt took office in 1933, unemployment stood at around 25%. With a clear mandate and a major crisis on his hands, Roosevelt and his crew acted swiftly and instituted a series of reforms to stabilise the problem in order that it could be acted upon. To do this he took on the banks and brokers in defiance of those who considered him a traitor to his class. Many would have seen it the other way around but it was a brave move anyway you look at it and it had to be done.

The book goes on to describe many of the programs such as the CCC and CWA which took on so many of America's unemployed. Purists will argue that this didn't solve any problems but that point of view fails to take into account the fact that these programs had three positive effects.
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